Give Lilium points for pushing to get a personal airplane in a driveway near you by 2018. Backed by the ESA business incubator, Lilium has unwrapped what it is billing as the first two-passenger vertical takeoff and landing aircraft for personal use.
Before we get too excited about dreams of avoiding traffic snarls, it still needs room to get off the ground and back down (15×15 m). Haven’t seen many parking lots offering that much space. Except for the driver that somehow triple parks at the grocery store during the winter.
When it hits production, the aircraft will be designated as a Light Sport Aircraft, requiring only 20 hours of instructional time to be licensed. In total hours, it’s comparable to a driver’s ed course to get your license.
Lilium, I’m not sure if that’s supposed to comfort me on how easy the aircraft is to fly or horrify me at the thought of the average driver taking to the skies.
The company was founded in 2015 by four engineers and doctoral students out of The Technical University in Munich, Germany. Its small team has already moved through the prototype stage and is working on the first production model.
“Our goal is to develop an aircraft for use in everyday life,” explained Daniel Wiegand, CEO and one of the company’s four founders.
“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.
“To reduce noise and pollution, we are using electric engines so it can also be used close to urban areas.”
Handling the craft during takeoff and landing will be an onboard computer. Its classification limits it to flying in good weather and uncongested airspace. Well, so much for avoiding the traffic snarls in Atlanta. Hartsfield International is the definition of congested airspace.
When the company does field an aircraft, it hopes to eventually gain certification for your backyard over being restricted to airfield use.
It’s not the flying car we’ve been promised for decades, but having a VTOL aircraft to make a Starbucks run? That’s something we can get behind the stick of as long as a Top Gun playlist comes standard.