EHang passenger demo flights ‘a basis for commercial operations’
EHang reports completing the first series of commercial demonstration flights with passengers aboard its autonomous EH216-S aircraft.
The flights, conducted during events in Guangzhou and Hefei, were attended by a number of Chinese government officials and the Chinese aviation regulator (CAAC), as well as the public and media. EHang is marking the demos as a “major milestone” towards its goal of operating the EH216-S on aerial sightseeing flights at various locations around China.
Huazhi Hu founder and CEO of EHang said: “We are excited that EHang continues trailblazing in the global emerging UAM industry. From the world’s first-of-its-kind pilotless passenger-carrying aerial vehicle system type certificate, our first delivery with standard airworthiness certificate, to today’s debut commercial flight demonstrations with certified EH216-S aircraft in Guangzhou and Hefei, we are making steady progress towards commercial operations, as planned.”
The first EH216-S, which obtained its standard airworthiness certificate in the fourth quarter of last year, has been delivered to ETON, an aviation technology-focused subsidiary of Guangzhou Development District Communications Investment Group, and is now on site at Jiulong Lake. More sites and flight routes for both sightseeing and logistics are being developed in Huangpu district as well.
The group alongside Guangzhou Industrial Investment Capital has also set up a Guangzhou Development District Low-Altitude Industry Venture Capital Fund with the target fund size of RMB 10bn ($1.4bn).
About 750 miles north is Hefei, the other demonstration district selected by EHang. The city’s Luogang Central Park has been made an eVTOL aircraft operation site by the local government as part of its Full-Space Unmanned System Integrated Application Demonstration Project. The park is on the site of the former Hefei Luogang International Airport and covers and area of 12.7sqkm. Attracting around 300,000 daily visitors during holidays, according to EHang, the park offers a number of uses cases including aerial sightseeing and shuttle services.
Hefei’s government and EHang agreed a strategic partnership in October this year, including the purchase of at least 100 units of the EH216 or financing support up to a total of $100m.
EHang has also set up a demonstration site for UAM services at OH Bay in Shenzhen’s Bao’an district. Covering a space of 4,600sqm the site has been built in around four months and includes a an eVTOL vertiport for the EH216-S, hangars, a command-and-control centre and passenger waiting area.
Bao’an Transportation Group has also signed a letter of intent with EHang to work together to set up an operation demonstration model for passenger-carrying unmanned aerial vehicles.
Xin Fang, chief operating officer of EHang, said: “The UAM operations and services make up an elaborate system that requires comprehensive preparatory groundwork. Following the major milestones of obtaining the first-of-its-kind Type Certificate and Standard Airworthiness Certificate for EH216-S, establishing the UAM operation site and infrastructure is another key achievement.” This article was first published on Revolution.Aero.