EHang prepares autonomous eVTOL flight trials in China

EHang AAV air taxi

Leading autonomous aerial vehicle (AAV) company EHang will start autonomous electric vertical takeoff and landing (eVTOL) vehicle test flights in China’s Guangdong-Hong Kong-Macao Greater Bay Area as part of a new exploratory partnership.

EHang said the autonomous eVTOL trial flights will be conducted with Heli-Eastern, a low-altitude charter helicopter company that operates in the Shenzhen, part of Greater Bay Area. Heli-Eastern has been tapped by the Civil Aviation Administration of China and Shenzhen’s municipal government to explore possible operational changes that could be pursued amid planned low-altitude aviation rule changes in the nation. Together, the two companies will look into and test urban air mobility operations integrated to Shenzhen airspace designated for helicopters and AAVs.

The link-up seeks to establish and put into operation a holistic strategy for introducing wide-ranging AAV craft and services in test area air space. Objectives in that include developing low-altitude urban air mobility flight management systems, and testing scenario cases like aerial emergency rescue for ground transport, and aerial cargo transportation over the highway network.

The two companies have already released video of their dual flights at Heli-Eastern’s base involving a Bell 206 helicopter and an EHang 216 craft. Other demonstrations of autonomous eVTOL flights in Shenzhen featured two EHang 216 copters flying together at relatively close range. 

EHang believes the partnership will considerably advance the company’s efforts to get its craft into service within a safe and effective airspace for all aerial vehicles.

“We are very pleased to cooperate with Heli-Eastern to set the benchmark in integrated airspace applications,” says Mr. Huazhi Hu, founder, chairman and CEO of EHang. “Heli-Eastern is the first general aviation carrier to join EHang’s own AAV operation program, which is a key milestone in the urban air mobility industry. This is not only an important step in EHang’s 100 Air Mobility Routes Initiative, but also signifies EHang’s entry into Shenzhen with our passenger-grade EHang 216 AAVs and a new chapter in our AAV trial operations.”

Hu said that as part of their autonomous eVTOL vehicle test flight partnership, the two companies will be leveraging their strengths in both software and hardware technologies, and also seek new opportunities to strengthen nurture the eco-system for urban air mobility operations.

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