NetJets is jumping into the market of first-generation electric vertical vehicles. The unit of Berkshire Hathaway has signed a memorandum of understanding with Lilium to buy up to 150 of the zero emissions aircraft.
The news was first reported in Aviation Week and came from the manufacturer. NetJets has yet to comment.
In a February 28 letter to investors from CEO Daniel Wiegand, the OEM said the deal gives NetJets “the right to order up to 150 Lilium Jets for its fractional ownership program in the U.S. and Europe.”
In the note, Wiegand wrote, “Following last year’s announcement of our anticipated strategic collaboration with (Brazilian airline) Azul, this proposed NetJets alliance would represent another step towards building up a diversified order backlog in different markets and segments which will support revenue predictability, industrial planning, and supply chain visibility.”
According to the letter, it appears NetJets would also manage the Lilium jets for whole aircraft owners.
“As part of this sales campaign, aircraft will be sold by Lilium directly to private individuals. Those aircraft may subsequently be managed on behalf of the owner by NetJets or its affiliates.”
It said the deal “allows us to offer the Lilium Jet to these individuals through an operator known for quality and safety.”
NetJets will also be involved in a Florida footprint being planned.
Wiegand said, “Further boost to Lilium’s Florida network – NetJets as flight operator NetJets and Lilium will work together with a view to an affiliate of NetJets Inc. running Lilium’s flight operations (with an Air Operator’s Certificate) in Florida. As announced last year, Lilium’s landing infrastructure in Florida is to be handled by airport operator (and Lilium investor) Ferrovial, in conjunction with the Tavistock Development Company. Plans for the Lilium regional air mobility network in Florida, therefore, continue to progress.”
The Lilium Jets target last-mile urban mobility and are essentially a helicopter replacement. Lilium’s proposed entry seats four to six passengers.
The arrangement with NetJets remains subject to the parties finalizing commercial terms and definitive documentation. No timetable was provided.
In July 2021, rival Directional Aviation ordered 200 Eve eVTOLs to support its Flexjet, Sentient Jet, FXAir, and PrivateFly units.
Both NetJets and Flexjet had orders for the Aerion supersonic jet before the company closed.
According to Aviation Internationa News, Lilium wants to start commercial services in 2024. It has not said when it will start flight testing a preproduction prototype.
NetJets is the world’s largest private jet operator.