European Space Agency Teases Tesla of the Sky: A Flying Electric Vehicle by 2018

There'll be no attendants on this flight.


The European Space Agency has shared details about what it’s calling the “world’s first vertical takeoff and landing aircraft for personal use.”

Part of the ESA’s business incubation program, the startup — Lilium — hopes to have these electric two-seater planes in the air by 2018. Tesla will finally have some competition.

Though the renderings do not inspire much confidence in this vehicle’s ability to remain airborne, the creators say that they’ve completed functional, 55-pound prototypes. The final product will be “ultralight,” but presumably not that ultralight.

The big deal about this aircraft, aside from the fact that it’s electric, is that it can go up. It will reportedly be able to take off from anywhere, provided that anywhere has a 50-foot by 50-foot liftoff area.

Lilium airplane takes off from a city

It does look a little flimsy, though, and — perhaps for that reason — it is only meant to fly on mellow, sunny, low-wind days. But it’s not just for joyriding: it’ll apparently be able to travel at speeds of up to 250 m.p.h., for distances of up to 310 miles, and at altitudes of almost two miles.

We’re talking the Tesla of the sky, here, just — as of now — way more speculative. The Lilium does boast the Model X’s falcon wing doors.

It’s probably going to be a few decades before a consumer-level version comes out, though — but when it does, I’d place my money on it coming from the mind of Mr. Elon Musk. Heck, he’s already got the two innovative realms on lock: with Tesla, electric vehicles; with SpaceX, flight.