Up, Up and Away… Someday
Three highflying, two-seat wonders that may be coming soon to a sky near you
THE ECO-FRIENDLY CHOPPER:Volocopter VC200
With 18 propellers, the drone-like VC200 will be able to take off and land vertically like a helicopter, yet is designed to be easier to fly, according to e-volo, the German company behind the battery-powered aircraft. The VC200 is steered by joystick and doesn’t require foot pedals, as a helicopter does; it will also stay aloft should some of its propellers fail. The current prototype can fly for 20 minutes—a stat that is expected to get more impressive as battery technology improves. A manned test-flight is scheduled for later this year. Production is slated for 2017.
THE ELECTRIC PLANE: E-Fan 2.0
The France-based Airbus Group is spearheading a family of electric-powered aircraft, dubbed the E-Fan program, that will consume no fuel, emit no CO2 or NOx emissions and will be substantially quieter than gas-powered airplanes. The E-Fan 2.0 will be a two-seater version, and although it won’t be available until late 2017, the underlying technology is real. This summer, the E-Fan 1.0, powered by lithium-ion batteries, became the first twin-engine electric plane to cross the English Channel.
AND ANOTHER FLYING CAR: AeroMobil 3.0
The Slovakian company AeroMobil is developing a flying car that is functionally similar to Terrafugia’s Transition—but visually, it’s a svelte dragonfly to Terrafugia’s bumblebee. AeroMobil’s makers say the car will be able to take off and land on short, moderately rough fields. However, it is not as far along as the Transition in gaining government certification in Europe. The company said it plans to start deliveries in two to three years.