China’s eHang claims that “in the next few months” it may achieve full type certification for its autonomous EH216 eVTOL aircraft. This would enable the company to begin commercial operations, potentially years ahead of what many of its air taxi competitors currently forecast.
EHang’s rapid progress can largely be attributed to a consensus with the CAAC (Civil Aviation Administration of China) which, according to Founder, Chairman and CEO Huazhi Hu, is based “on the guiding principle that operational trial flights can gradually be carried out, while advancing the certification progress.”
The company says it’s already completed around 2,800 “operational trial flights” across seven “air mobility trial operations” providing aerial sightseeing and short-distance mobility services in Guangzhou, Hezhou, Shenzen, Zhaoqing and Sanya. Most recently, the EHang 216 autonomous aerial vehicle (“AAV”) completed its debut flight demonstration for aerial sightseeing in the world-famous tourism hotspot of Bali, Indonesia. This demonstration flight was conducted under EHang’s cooperation with an Indonesian local partner Prestige Aviation, a subsidiary of Prestige Corp.
The EHang 216 demonstrated a five-minute autonomous flight at the scenic Villa Blackstone Beach, Bali. VIP guests who witnessed the flight demo include Bambang Soesatyo, Chairman of the Indonesian People’s Consultative Assembly, Putu Astawa, Head of the Bali Tourism Office and Rudy Salim, CEO and Founder of Prestige Corp.
Prior to the flight demo, the Directorate General of Civil Aviation of the Republic of Indonesia issued the Special Certificate of Airworthiness for the EHang 216 AAV, enabling it to be the Indonesia’s first passenger-grade AAV approved for a public unmanned flight demo.
Bambang Soesatyo, Chairman of the Indonesian People’s Consultative Assembly, said, “We are entering a new chapter of transportation. As a modern transportation solution, EHang 216 will change our lifestyle in the future.”
Rudy Salim, CEO and Founder of Prestige Corp, said, “Prestige Aviation aspires to be the pioneer to provide smart city innovations with digital-based transport implementation. As an AAV, EHang 216 can become an effective, affordable mobility and efficient solution for Indonesian air mobility.”
Hu Huazhi, Founder, Chairman and CEO of EHang, said, “The successful flight demo fully showcased EHang 216’s potential for efficient island hopping and air transportation. We are pleased to join hands with Indonesian local partners to bring our leading AAVs and UAM solutions to Indonesia, one of the most promising UAM markets in Southeast Asia. Our global network of renowned and reliable partners continues to expand, and we believe this is a significant step for our sustainable, consistent success. We look forward to long-term business development prospects in Indonesia.”
Why it’s important: EHang’s impressive number of completed trial flights is in addition to the 20,000 autonomous trial flights the EH216 has taken in 11 different countries – far more, the company claims, than any other manufacturer. “With abundant operational experience accumulated and safety records built,” reads the earnings report, “the Company expects to turn these operational trial flights into commercial ones after the approval of the EHang 216 Type Certificate is obtained.”
Sources // eHang press release; New Atlas