Lilium, the ambitious German air taxi company, picks London for its new software engineering base

Lilium, the ambitious Munich-based startup developing an all-electric vertical take-off and landing (VTOL) device, has announced that London is to be its new software engineering base, flying in the face of Brexit, you may well say. This, says the company, will create “hundreds of high-end software engineering roles” in the U.K. capital city over the next five years.

Alongside designing and manufacturing a new type of jet, Lilium plans to launch a fully vertical “air taxi” service by 2025, which will require consumer-facing “hailing” apps and sophisticated software for fleet management, including maintenance, and scheduling flights on-demand. That system also will need to integrate with existing air traffic control regulations and systems, all of which isn’t trivial, to say the least.

The announcement comes in the slipstream of Lilium unveiling a new five-seater prototype and a maiden flight last month. This saw the full-scale, full-weight prototype successfully take off and land, following extensive ground testing.

Meanwhile, the German startup is disclosing a trio of new senior hires, including the appointment of Carlos Morgado, former chief technology officer (CTO) at Just Eat, to lead the development of the new London software engineering team as VP, Digital Technology.

In addition, Lilium has appointed Anja Maassen van den Brink as chief people officer (CPO), and Luca Benassi as chief development engineer. Maassen van den Brink joins Lilium from VodafoneZiggo. Benassi is said to bring more than 20 years of experience in the aerospace sector, having worked at NASA, Boeing and, most recently, Airbus, where he was a senior expert and head of Acoustics and Vibration.

Commenting on the choice of London as a base for the engineering team, Remo Gerber, chief commercial officer (CCO), comments: “Achieving our aims will require us to build one of the world’s most innovative and high-performing software engineering teams. While we recognize that talent is global, London offers us access to a rich talent pool and an environment that’s well-suited to delivering the extraordinary.”

Of course, how rich that talent pool will remain after Brexit is yet to be seen. But for now it’s clear that Lilium believes that long-term London has more upsides than downsides, regardless of the current Brexit impasse.