Imagine an aircraft that can be powered from a wall socket, take off from the garden, and with electric engines so quiet the noise won’t bother the neighbors.
That’s the vision behind Lilum, an ultralight electric plane concept that its German design team hope to have on sale by 2018.
The egg-shaped two-seater would take ascend and descend vertically, like a helicopter, so it could use helipads.
It requires only a flat area of 15 meters by 15 meters to take off and land.
It’s only at the prototype stage, but its engineers say it could reach a top speed of 400 km/h, with a range of 500 kilometers.
Lilium is a start-up founded by four Munich University graduates: Daniel Wiegand, Patrick Nathen, Sebastian Born and Matthias Meiner
The company’s hosted in a European Space Agency (ESA) business incubator.
In an ESA release, Wiegand emphasized the concept’s practical and environmental benefits.
“Our goal is to develop an aircraft for use in everyday life.
“We are going for a plane that does not need the complex and expensive infrastructure of an airport.
“To reduce noise and pollution, we are using electric engines so it can also be used close to urban areas.”
It uses ducted fan engines, which the team says make it a lot quieter than helicopters or traditional private jets.
Its compact size means it wouldn’t have to fit into airport scheduling to land and take off.
Then there’s the battery, which could be charged by an ordinary domestic supply.
The plane — as well as being only at the concept stage — is not without its downsides.
It’s designed to only be flown in good weather conditions in uncongested airspace in the daylight.
So forget about landing with at the front of the nightclub queue.
In fact, the aircraft will primarily be using airfields for landing and take-off, although ESA says “the goal is for it to take off vertically from almost anywhere — even from back gardens.”
The two-seater fits into the Light Sports Aircraft category, so a pilot’s licence with at least 20 hours of training are needed to fly it.
What’s the price tag?
There’s no price tag yet, but ESA says it’ll be cheaper to buy and run than similar sized aircraft currently on the market.
So far it says it’s proved the concept with 25 kilogram scaled-down prototypes.
A full-size unmanned prototype is planned for later in 2016.
“In the longer term, our target is to build an aircraft that not only the super-rich can afford, and that can make private air transportation possible for a much wider number of people,” says Weigand.