Ehang makes first passenger drone flight in Estonia

A passenger drone has flown for the first time in an Estonian city.

Although it did not have any passengers in it, the Ehang 216 passenger autonomous aerial vehicle made a successful Beyond the Visual Line of Sight (BVLOS) flight from Tarto Airport in Estonia’s second largest city to the Estonian Aviation Museum about fourteen or so kilometres away.

Ehang did not say how long it took for the Ehang 216 drone to arrive at its destination, but the journey usually takes between fifteen and eighteen minutes on the busy roads. Ehang’s passenger drone has a top speed of 130 km/h at an altitude of 3,000 metres. Its maximum flight range is 35km, and it can stay in the air for 21 minutes before needing to recharge its batteries.

The flight was done as part of the second Gulf of Finland (GOF) Integrated Urban Space Validation, a European Union project aimed at safely, securely, and sustainably demonstrating the operational validity of serving combined UAS, eVTOL and manned operations in a unified, dense urban airspace using current ATM and U-space services and systems.

Tartu has an estimated population of 91,000 residents.

“Our flagship passenger-grade AAV EHang 216 and Falcon logistics model have completed Beyond Visual Line of Sight (“BVLOS”) trial flights for airport transport and parcel delivery in Estonia under the European Union’s GOF 2.0 Integrated Urban Airspace Validation (“GOF 2.0”) project to demonstrate safe, autonomous and eco-friendly urban air mobility (“UAM”) and the integration of unmanned aerial vehicles and air taxis into manned operations with air traffic management (“ATM”) and U-space services,” Ehang said in a statement.

The Falcon drone also flew from the airport to the museum in a cargo delivery demonstration to prove the uses cases and scenarios of automated parcel delivery drones operating at low level.

Launched in February this year, the GOF 2.0 is one of several projects managed by the SESAR Joint Undertaking, which are dedicated to U-space, the European Commission’s initiative for safe and secure integration of drones into the airspace. The demonstrations focus on validation of the GOF 2.0 architecture for highly automated real-time separation assurance in dense air space, including precision weather and telecom networks for air-ground communication and will significantly contribute to understanding how the safe integration of UAM and other commercial drone operations into ATM Airspace without degrading safety, security or disrupting current airspace operations can be implemented.

“The Estonian Transport Administration issued a Special Permit to EHang for trial flights in designated Estonian airspace until the end of 2021,” Ehang added.

“The EHang 216 is the first passenger-grade AAV to have conducted BVLOS trial flights in Estonian airspace. During the live trials, the EHang 216 performed a flight mission of passenger VIP transport scenario from the Tartu Airport to the Estonian Aviation Museum, no passenger onboard, to demonstrate the uses cases and scenarios of eVTOL (electric vertical take-off and landing) intra-urban and peri-urban flights.”

According to Ehang, more flights are scheduled for the duration of the two-year project, with focus on entry into and out of defined airspaces. The trials will demonstrate how manned and unmanned aviation can enter and leave various types of airspace, such as controlled/uncontrolled airspace and U-space airspace.

“To date, EHang has conducted multiple trial and demo flights of its passenger-grade AAVs in 10 countries across Asia, Europe, and North America. EHang will continue further involvements in GOF 2.0 and plan to conduct more trial flights in Europe to demonstrate the validity, safety, security and sustainability of unmanned aerial systems and manned operations in a unified, dense urban airspace using existing ATM and U-space services and systems.”


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