Licensing is the biggest obstacle to flying taxis

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Bringing electric, vertical take-off and landing vehicles up to aviation standards could cost up to $1 billion. Germany’s Lilium would solve the problem by using suppliers with expertise in the aviation industry. Electric flying taxis will have to meet similar safety standards as Boeing or Airbus aircraft, according to an interview with Lilium’s programme director Yves Yemsy, New Atlas reports.

The most important regulators in the industry are the US Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) and the European Aviation Safety Agency (EASA), which, if met, tend to accept new aircraft designs in the rest of the world. Because of strict safety regulations, every single component has to meet the authorities’ requirements. Yemsi, who previously headed the quality assurance team for the A350 at Airbus, said that they are trying to make a simpler model – the A350 has 3 million parts, the Lilium aircraft has only 100,000 – and to work with aerospace suppliers who have experience of the standards in force.

The company also tries to work in parallel with the two major regulators to avoid problems due to differences in standards. The standards apply not only to the design but also to the production, as fault-free operation in the air is far more important. In the case of aeroplanes, a fault can fit in at one billion flight hours, which is 1500 times more stringent than for cars.

Like most of its competitors, Lilium tries to avoid this by using redundancy, applying multiple insurance for all failure modes. This means that there are two or even three different hardware and software solutions for the same function, but 36 separate modules for the propeller and 10 for the battery, avoiding the possibility of single point failures.

Yemsi says that the $1 billion needed to comply with regulators may be a bit exorbitant, although it depends on what you factor in. In any case, if the numbers are right, it could be bad news for those waiting for a flying taxi, as even Joby Aviation, the company that raised the most capital, was only able to raise $820 million out of the hundreds of companies vying to create

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