EHang completes passenger drone tests in China

Happy new year, everyone.

Fancy a trip around a tourist area in an unmanned aerial vehicle?

Well; 2024 could be your lucky year: Chinese drone maker EHang – fresh from celebrating its air worthiness certification from the local aviation regulator – has announced the successfully completion of debut commercial flight demonstrations for its passenger UAV; the E216-S.

The flights were contacted in Guangzhou and Hefei respectively, and marked a significant step towards the company normalising flights with EH216-S in aerial sightseeing at local scenic spots.

“Today, two grand launch events were held at the Jiulong Lake Park in Guangzhou and the Luogang Central Park in Hefei,” EHang said in a statement.

“Both events marked the debut commercial flight demonstrations with the certified EH216-S aircraft, which have obtained the Standard Airworthiness Certificates issued by the Civil Aviation Administration of China (CAAC).

“Several government officials and citizens from Guangzhou and Hefei joined the first group of invited passengers to take a ride on the EH216-S, and experienced the magnificent scenery from a completely new perspective above the city landmarks.”

Perhaps crucially, EHang’s passenger drones will be used as a test case for the low-altitude economy in China, which has been recognised as a promising industry chain with strong potential to become a substantial driver of the national economic growth.

And Guangzhou and Hefei have been earmarked for this pilot as pivotal gateways for propelling China’s emerging low-altitude economy industry, with favourable policies and subsidies introduced to promote the low-altitude economy related enterprises, industrial clusters, infrastructure, research and development, production, applications, operations, services, and certifications.

In this vein, EHang has delivered the first EH216-S to ETON, an intelligent aviation technology subsidiary of Guangzhou Development District Communications Investment Group, with the drone being deployed at the Jiulong Lake operational site.

“As a local brand in Guangzhou and the world’s leading intelligent autonomous aerial vehicle technology company, EHang always adheres to innovation leadership and constantly explores the boundaries of the sky,” said Jie Chen, Executive Vice Mayor of Guangzhou.

“In October last year, EHang successfully obtained the type certificate for its unmanned aerial vehicle, marking a global milestone in the development of the low-altitude economy. I believe that today’s debut commercial flight demonstration will greatly boost confidence of the entire industry and lead its development onto the fast track.”

More operation sites and flight routes for aerial sightseeing and logistics are under development in Huangpu district as well.

The Luogang Central Park is designated by the Hefei government as an electric vertical take-off and landing (eVTOL) aircraft operation site for its Full-Space Unmanned System Integrated Application Demonstration Project.

Hefei was also represented at the demonstration by its deputy mayor, Quan Zhang, who was as equally impressed by the latest development as his counterpart from Guangzhou.

“EHang is definitely an industry-leading company with many ‘first’ and ‘unique’ achievements in fields of pilotless passenger-carrying flights and eVTOL,” Zhang said.

“Today EHang’s debut commercial flight demonstrations mark a new chapter in the development history of the pilotless passenger-carrying aerial vehicle and the low-altitude economy. In the next step, we will join hands with key enterprises like EHang to focus on application scenarios, industrial cooperation, and business model innovation, and strive to build Hefei as a low-altitude city of international influence.”

Following the first eVTOL flight route at Luogang Center Park, the Hefei government plans to collaborate with EHang to expand aerial sightseeing flight routes and services to more scenic spots in Hefei, such as Swan Lake.

Based on the strategic partnership agreement with EHang in October this year, Hefei also intends to facilitate the purchase of at least 100 units of the EH216 series, and/or provide financing support, amounting up to a total of US$100 million.

“We are excited that EHang continues trailblazing in the global emerging UAM industry,” Huazhi Hu, Founder, Chairman and CEO of EHang.

“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.

“This rapid advancement has been bolstered by the unwavering support of our partners, regulators and national policies focused on developing China’s low-altitude economy, especially in UAM.

“We are confident that our concerted efforts will ensure a smooth launch of commercial operations for EH216-S in these pioneering cities in the near future.”

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