The European Space Agency is dreaming up an aircraft of the future: egg-shaped, electric-powered and able to take off from helipads or runways due to its pivoting engines. In a press release earlier this month, the ESA said the new plane, which would have a range of 300 miles and is called Lillium, “will open the door to a new class of simpler, quieter and environmentally friendly planes available from 2018.” Daniel Wiegand, CEO of Lillium, was also quoted in the release explaining, “We are going for a plane that can take off and land vertically and does not need the complex and expensive infrastructure of an airport.”
The electric engines are designed to not only be environmentally friendly, but to combat noise pollution as well, so the crafts can be used efficiently in urban areas. Lillium is intended to travel at around 250 mph, which is faster than most helicopters but significantly slower than the speeds of private jets. It is also touted as being safer than most helicopters, due to the redundancy of its batteries, engines and controllers. According to the ESA, Lillium is, “classed as a Light Sport Aircraft…it is intended for recreational flying during daylight, in good weather conditions and in uncongested airspace up to 3km altitude.” Pilots would be expected to obtain a license requiring 20 hours training, which is akin to passing a driver’s license test, and would be able to park the aircraft anywhere where they have a 50 by 50 foot parking space.