16 May 2016 07:44:54 IST

Personal plane that can take off from your garden

PIc credit: www.esa.int

German start-up is developing an electric plane, that can be powered from a wall socket, takeoff and land vertically

A German start-up company is developing the world’s first ultralight personal electric plane, that can be powered from a wall socket, takeoff and land vertically even from back gardens and is eco-friendly.

The two-seater electric plane uses ducted fan which makes it simpler, quieter and safer than conventional helicopters. “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,” said Daniel Wiegand, CEO of Lilium, the company hosted in a European Space Agency (ESA) business incubator.

“To reduce noise and pollution, we are using electric engines so it can also be used close to urban areas,” said Daniel, one of the four Munich University graduates who founded the company.

Highly efficient in its cruising mode, the plane will have a range of 500 kilometres and will be on sale by 2018. It features a touchscreen and fly-by-wire joystick controls, retractable landing gear, wing doors, large storage, panoramic windows and a battery that can be recharged from any wall plug.

“The half-size prototype is already flying and now under test. The full-size unmanned prototype is planned for this summer,” said Thorsten Rudolph, CEO of AZO, which runs the incubator, one of many in ESA’s Technology Transfer Programme throughout Europe.

“We are helping Lilium turn their idea into a viable business. They are the aircraft experts, and we provide the expertise on how to make a business out of their dream,” Rudolph said.

The retail cost will be far less than what similar-sized aircraft of today would be worth, and with much lower running costs, the ESA said in a statement. “In the longer term, our target is to build an affordable aircraft that can make private air transportation possible for a wider number of people,” Daniel said.

“With the concept of taking off and landing almost everywhere, we can see that one day, our plane will be used for quick and daily transportation — almost like a car,” Daniel added.