January 15, 2021

Orlando

ORLANDO — The nation’s first regional hub for “flying cars” is being built in central Florida and once completed in five years, the vehicles will be able to take passengers from Orlando to Tampa in a half hour, officials said Wednesday.

The Tavistock Development Corp. said it was constructing a Jetsons-like aviation facility in Orlando’s Lake Nona area, the mixed-use planned community it built. Lake Nona already is home to several medical and research facilities.

The aircraft will be supplied by Lilium, a Germany-based aviation company that manufacturers the industry’s only five-passenger “electric vertical takeoff and landing” aircraft. At the moment, the Lilium Jets can travel up to 185 miles on a one-hour charge.

Passengers wanting a ride on the aircraft will be able to book reservations via their phones in a way similar to ride-share companies Uber and Lyft, officials said.

The vehicles flying and landing out of the Lake Nona Vertiport will accommodate four passengers and a pilot. The cost will be similar to a first-class fare, though the price will likely go down as the service becomes more popular, officials said.

Unlike airplanes and helicopters, the vehicles offer quick point-to-point personal travel, at least in principle. They could do away with the hassle of airports and traffic jams.

Battery sizes, air traffic control and other infrastructure issues are among the many potential challenges to commercializing them, according to experts. Experts compare the buzz over flying cars to the days when the aviation industry got started with the Wright brothers and the auto industry with the Ford Model T.

The Lake Nona Vertiport has applied for approval from the Federal Aviation Administration and Department of Transportation.

window.Fusion=window.Fusion||{};Fusion.deployment='275';Fusion.arcSite='tbt';Fusion.lastModified=1605227783384;Fusion.globalContent={"_id":"DEDWBYNADNEWBAFSB6KZZRPPKI","type":"story","version":"0.10.6","content_elements":[{"_id":"UFGL33RWXRB73BQVSZVFCIIAPY","type":"text","additional_properties":{"comments":[],"inline_comments":[]},"content":"ORLANDO — The nation’s first regional hub for “flying cars” is being built in central Florida and once completed in five years, the vehicles will be able to take passengers from Orlando to Tampa in a half hour, officials said Wednesday."},{"_id":"XV4I3GYBO5CZHORT3QU6QMKNO4","type":"text","additional_properties":{"comments":[],"inline_comments":[]},"content":"The Tavistock Development Corp. said it was constructing a Jetsons-like aviation facility in Orlando’s Lake Nona area, the mixed-use planned community it built. Lake Nona already is home to several medical and research facilities."},{"_id":"HCJ247FWVNCJJPCNP6J3GARIU4","type":"text","additional_properties":{"comments":[],"inline_comments":[]},"content":"The aircraft will be supplied by Lilium, a Germany-based aviation company that manufacturers the industry’s only five-passenger “electric vertical takeoff and landing” aircraft. At the moment, the Lilium Jets can travel up to 185 miles on a one-hour charge."},{"_id":"JGU7AIMHCNHD5AE4MQ76LCLMXA","type":"text","additional_properties":{"comments":[],"inline_comments":[]},"content":"Passengers wanting a ride on the aircraft will be able to book reservations via their phones in a way similar to ride-share companies Uber and Lyft, officials said."},{"_id":"R3BTZJUNCFDEXPITPOFAGQDAWQ","type":"text","additional_properties":{"comments":[],"inline_comments":[]},"content":"The vehicles flying and landing out of the Lake Nona Vertiport will accommodate four passengers and a pilot. The cost will be similar to a first-class fare, though the price will likely go down as the service becomes more popular, officials said."},{"_id":"AJQNHR2SCJEOVJ4JYTBLHZCG6U","type":"text","additional_properties":{"comments":[],"inline_comments":[]},"content":"Unlike airplanes and helicopters, the vehicles offer quick point-to-point personal travel, at least in principle. They could do away with the hassle of airports and traffic jams."},{"_id":"2EXCPRNQSRBV5PFNN5PND4RVBE","type":"text","additional_properties":{"comments":[],"inline_comments":[]},"content":"Battery sizes, air traffic control and other infrastructure issues are among the many potential challenges to commercializing …

...

In an announcement that drew immediate comparisons to “The Jetsons,” the city of Orlando, Fla., and a German aviation company formally unveiled plans on Wednesday to build the first hub for flying cars in the United States.

The 56,000-square-foot transportation hub, shown for the first time in renderings and in a video simulation, resembles an airport terminal. Think Eero Saarinen.

The so-called vertiport is scheduled to be completed in 2025 and will enable passengers to bypass Florida’s notoriously congested highways, the city and the hub’s developers contend.

The electric-powered aircraft will be capable of taking off vertically from the ground-based hub and reaching a top speed of 186 miles per hour, according to the Munich-based aviation company Lilium, which is working with the Orlando firm Tavistock Development Company on the project.

But is the ambitious project, intended to introduce Lilium’s flying taxis as a more time-efficient if costlier alternative to ride-hailing services like Uber and Lyft, viable? There is a caveat: The aircraft are still in the developmental phase.

Orlando officials don’t seem to be dissuaded by that uncertainty. On Monday, the City Council approved more than $800,000 in potential tax rebates to Lilium.

Buddy Dyer, the city’s longtime mayor, framed the project as a transformational one in a statement on Wednesday.

“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,” Mr. Dyer said. “We have been focused on finding the right partners to be a global leader in the advanced air mobility space.”

The site selected for the transportation hub is in Lake Nona, a 17-square-mile planned community within the city limits that is next to Orlando International Airport. It will require approval from the Federal Aviation Administration. The aircraft themselves will also fall under the agency’s oversight.

“The F.A.A. is the regulatory authority over all flight activities in the United States, including urban air mobility aircraft,” the F.A.A. said in a statement on Wednesday night. “The agency is in the preliminary stages of working with these applicants and will continue to engage with them as they work to meet certification standards.”

Jim Gray, a City Council commissioner whose district includes the site of the planned hub, said on Monday that tax incentives were justified and that the project would create about 140 jobs that paid about $65,000 a year on average.

“That’s what we need,” Mr. Gray said during the Council meeting. “We need better-paying jobs. So I think our investment, us priming the pump to help this work with some tax rebates, is absolutely the right thing to do.”

Orlando officials noted that the projected salaries would be more than 25 percent higher than the average salary in Orange County, which includes the city. They also said that the tax rebates were not taking away from existing funds.

“It also should be emphasized on rebates that’s on value that they’re generating,” Mr. Dyer said on Monday. “We’re

…...