German air taxi developer Lilium has reportedly won a major contract with Saudi Arabia’s state-owned airline, finalizing a deal to provide 100 electric vertical takeoff and landing (eVTOL) vehicles.

First reported by Reuters on Wednesday, sources close to the matter say that the airline, Saudia, signed a framework deal with Lilium nearly 18 months ago, with later agreements finalizing the purchase order. Reporters have been invited to a Saudia event hosted at Lilium’s headquarters near Munich on July 18, which will give new insights into the arrangement.

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This deal will be one of the biggest in Lilium’s nine years of operation. Founded in 2015 by a group of engineers and PhD students at the University of Munich, the company specializes in designing electrically powered personal air vehicles capable of VTOL flight.

After debuting unmanned two-seat proof-of-concept models in 2017, Lilium announced a move into the air taxi market, which promises to implement flying cars as a form of public transit. The company’s aircraft, which power flight through ducted fans and two pairs of wings, are targeted to begin flying by 2026.

Lilium and rival air taxi maker Volocopter GmbH are currently racing for certification and seeking additional funding to pull ahead in the market.

According to Reuters, Lilium currently has about 780 orders for air taxis, including the 100 contracted by Saudi Arabia. The company currently has a market value of $550 million, and shares jumped by 2.7% after the Saudia deal was reported.

The first manned flight for Lilium air taxis is scheduled for the end of this year.

Connor Walcott is a staff writer for Follow Connor on X and look for him on VT’s “The Unusual Suspects.”

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