Leading global autonomous aerial vehicle (AAV) company EHang has inched closer to eventual certification in China, after the country’s civil aviation authority specified the criteria the firm’s EH216-S air taxis will have to fulfill to obtain compliancy.
The step is an admittedly obtuse sounding yet critical milestone in EHang’s continuing efforts to earn certification for its air taxis in what’s expected to eventually become a booming Chinese AAV sector. Indeed, that forward movement by the Guangzhou-based company was enough for market-watchers to send its share prices surging by over 12% on the NASDAQ in response to the news. It also provided renewed lift to a stock that has suffered bouts of downward pressure amid investor concerns about business viability.
All that needed for that to happen was a three-sentence statement for EHang, its mighty heavy administrativese notwithstanding.
“EHang Holdings… the world’s leading autonomous aerial vehicle technology platform company, today announced that the Civil Aviation Administration of China has formally adopted the Special Conditions for EH216-S AAV Type Certification, which was effective on February 9th, 2022 and published on the CAAC website on February 22th, 2022,” it read.
What does that actually mean? That authorities have stipulated the kinds of criteria EHang’s air taxis will have to meet in certain categories to gain operational certification in China’s AAV sector.
“The Special Conditions provides EHang with the basis for compliance and safety of EH216-S AAVs, including flight performance, structures, design and constructions, propulsion systems, systems and equipment, data link and ground control station,” the statement continued. “The Company expects to deploy the EH216-S unmanned aircraft system in low-altitude passenger-carrying commercial operations in the Urban Air Mobility sector.”
The import of that is that EHang can begin working toward certification of its EH216-S air taxis with full knowledge of the specific standards the AAV craft must match or better in order to attain clearance.
That, in some ways, is like a marathoner who’d been having to train for the 26.2 miles of a generic race being given the information to start preparations to run a specified route with a geographically designated finish line. Objectives and challenges in contesting the race become clearer, and far more concrete to deal with.
Of course, EHang hadn’t exactly been running in place while it waited for China’s civil aviation administration to stipulate conditions towards certification. Last month it rung up a pre-order for 50 EH216 AAV air taxis from leading Japanese air mobility company AirX. In December, meanwhile, it announced the opening of its new, fully integrated 5G flight center in its Guangzhou home city, from which it will trial air taxi and other AAV services awaiting their commercial launch once it gains certification.