First US Vertiport Planned for Orlando’s Lake Nona

by | Nov 12, 2020


Residents near Orlando may soon be able to walk out of their homes, drive down their street and climb aboard a five-seater, electric plane (which, by the way takes off and lands vertically), fly to meetings in Tampa or elsewhere and return to their neighborhood that evening.

This is not some futuristic fantasy.

The City of Orlando entered into an agreement on Monday to bring the country’s first “Vertiport” to Lake Nona by 2025. Lilium Aviation, Inc., a Munich-based aviation company developing an all-electric, vertical take-off and landing jet aircraft, Lake Luna’s developer Tavistock Development Company, and the City of Orlando are joining together to build the country’s first urban and regional air mobility network as well as Lilium’s first U.S. network location.

Lake Luna is represented by District 1 City Commissioner Jim Gray who says this type of innovation and forward thinking is not a big change for Lake Luna. “This community has a technology and innovation culture. Our residents embrace it.”

Tavistock Managing Director Ben Weaver said, “We are delighted to partner with Lilium to create the first U.S. network of vertiports and to launch within Lake Nona’s living lab allowing unrivaled connectivity unlike anything developed in the country to date. This partnership and network launch highlight our community’s passion and commitment to groundbreaking partnerships and new technologies that sets us apart as a city of the future. Lilium’s core mission of transport, which not only supports bringing the region together, but also provides a solution to environmental issues, is incredibly impressive.”

According to minutes from Orlando’s November 9 City Commission meeting, the total capital investment for the project is estimated at $25 million. Per the agreement, Lilium will construct and operate a 56,000 square foot transportation hub in the City of Orlando and will bring 143 new jobs to the city by December 31, 2025. With an average salary of $66,451, excluding benefits, salaries will be 125% of the Orange County average annual wage.

The City of Orlando will provide Lilium with a tax rebates from 2026 to 2036 with a maximum rebate amount not exceeding $831,250 and the maximum annual rebate not exceeding $83,125. It is estimated Lilium will generate around $166,250 annually to the City of Orlando General Fund and $1,662,500 over a period of ten years, according to the meeting minutes.

City of Orlando Mayor Buddy Dyer said. “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.”

Gray said his support of the project was based on the opportunity to bring attention to the Lake Luna area and to bring new, high-paying jobs.

According to a Lilium press release, “Lake Nona’s central location provides the opportunity to connect more than 20 million Floridians within a 186-mile radius, serving several major cities including Orlando and Tampa. The Lilium Jet aircraft can travel further and faster with distances of up to 186 miles (300km) within one hour on a single charge, enabling the connection of entire regions, creating significant economic impact for cities and their residents as well as increased access to industry, culture and nature.”

Lilium Chief Operating Officer Dr. Remo Gerber 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.”

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