Taking Flight

The future of transportation has arrived in Lake Nona

November 11, 2020

It’s easy to feel like we’re already living in the future here in Lake Nona. From groundbreaking autonomous shuttles on the streets and a growing 5G network powered by Verizon to our dozens of entrepreneurs and startup companies working on the next big breakthroughs.

Today, Lake Nona takes its biggest leap yet – announcing the creation of the country’s first regional hub for high-speed, electric vertical takeoff and landing (eVTOL) aircraft. Known as the Lake Nona Vertiport, the first-of-its-kind aviation facility will serve as the central location for a regional mobility network in Florida designed to usher in a new era of city-to-city transportation.

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Scheduled to be operational by 2025, the Lake Nona Vertiport will be built in partnership with Lilium, a Munich, Germany-based aviation company that manufacturers the industry’s only five-passenger eVTOL aircraft, and the City of Orlando. Currently, the Lilium Jets can travel up to 186 miles on a one-hour charge connecting Lake Nona to most of Florida’s other major metros. A trip on the Lilium jet from Lake Nona to Tampa will take less than 30 minutes!

The on-demand air travel will be facilitated through an app on your phone, very similar to services like Uber and Lyft. The piloted jets can accommodate up to four passengers. Initially, costs are expected to be similar to a business-class plane ticket, and like all emerging technologies will ultimately decrease as regional air mobility becomes more mainstream.

Lilium Jets deliver the same safety standards as today’s commercial aircraft with substantially less noise, faster speeds, and zero pollution. Once the aircraft arrive in Lake Nona, they will be regulated by the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA). The Lake Nona Vertiport, like any new airport, is currently seeking the required approval from the FAA and Department of Transportation.

Noise, after safety, is one of the Lilium’s top priorities. The Jets feature customized electric motors and innovative technology that make them inaudible from the ground and only as loud as a passing truck during takeoff and landing.

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Commenting on the groundbreaking partnership, Dr. Remo Gerber, Lilium’s Chief Operating Officer said, “We are thrilled to partner with Tavistock and build the first stretch of Florida’s high-speed electric transportation network with Central Florida at its core. It shows that regional high-speed air mobility can be built by private initiative and give communities such as Lake Nona, which can also serve Orlando and arrivals from its international airport, the ability to determine themselves whether they want a link into a high-speed transportation network.”

The City of Orlando identified advanced air mobility as the next frontier of transportation for cities. The City’s vision is not just to be one of the first with electric vertical take-off and landing flights, but to be the first city to properly engage the community and set up operations and permitting in a way that optimizes a network for residents and visitors.

The City’s long history of public private partnerships laid the groundwork for the work with Lilium and Lake Nona’s developer, Tavistock, to bring regional air mobility to Florida.

City of Orlando Mayor Buddy Dyer commented: “For this new technology to truly reshape the transportation ecosystem and benefit Orlando residents long-term, it is going to take a true partnership between cities, developers, and transportation operators. We have been focused on finding the right partners to be a global leader in the advanced air mobility space. I’m thrilled that our progressive and collaborative environment has created an opportunity for this unique partnership between the City of Orlando, Lilium and Lake Nona to invest in the expansion of safe, efficient and environmentally friendly transportation options throughout one of the fastest growing regions in the country.”

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Orange County Mayor Jerry L. Demings added: “Our region strives for collaboration and innovation and to become the Experimental Prototype Community of Tomorrow. Thank you to Lilium and Tavistock for helping us embrace the future of rethinking transportation and helping transform travel with Florida’s first flying taxi. This is truly The Jetsons coming to reality in Central Florida’s backyard.”

The Lake Nona Vertiport design is both functional and unique to resemble our community’s iconic art and distinct architectural style. Located in Lake Nona’s commercial airport district just south of Medical City and east of Boggy Creek Road, the seven-acre vertiport will include two takeoff and landing areas, eight gates for jets, and a passenger terminal.

This groundbreaking regional mobility hub is the latest addition to Orlando’s aerotropolis in Lake Nona’s growing aviation, aerospace and defense cluster that is already home to the BBA Aviation/Signature Flight Support headquarters and the recently announced global training facility for SIMCOM Aviation Training. Like its new neighbors, the Lake Nona Vertiport will create new job opportunities in the Orlando area, with hundreds more to follow throughout Florida.

From the ground to the sky, the future of transportation is launching here in Lake Nona.

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