EHang announced today its flagship passenger-grade AAV EHang 216 successfully performed its maiden Japan unmanned and autonomous trial flight to showcase safe, autonomous, eco-friendly aerial mobility aircraft operations. Ahead of the trial flight, the EHang 216 obtained a trial flight permit from the Ministry of Land, Infrastructure, Transport and Tourism of Japan (“MLIT”) with a local partner. EHang 216 was the first passenger-grade AAV granted permission for outdoor open airspace trial flights in Japan.
One of the trial flights was completed at the “Leading the Revolution of Urban Air Mobility” event, organized by the Okayama Kurashiki Mizushima Aero & Space Industry Cluster Study Group (“MASC”) and EHang at Kasaoka Air Station in Okayama Prefecture, Japan. Looking ahead, EHang and MASC will collaborate to further develop new air transportation use cases in Japan.
At the event, the Chief Cabinet Secretary Mr. Kato Katsunobu appointed his secretary, Mr. Sugihara Yohei, to attend the event and delivered a speech on his behalf, saying, “At present, many companies around the world have launched such flying car projects, and are conducting research and development and demonstration projects. As the government, we will actively improve aviation regulations while supporting private enterprises in a timely and appropriate manner. “
Other guests included Ms. Ito Kaori, the Mayor of Kurashiki City, Okayama Prefecture, Mr. Yoshifumi Kobayashi, the Mayor of Kasaoka City, Okayama Prefecture, Mr. Inoue Mineichi, the Head of the Kurashiki Chamber of Commerce and Industry, and Mr. Sugimoto Tetsuya, the Head of Kasaoka Chamber of Commerce and Industry.
In 2018, the Japanese government established the “Public-Private Council for Air Transportation Revolution” and formulated a Roadmap towards Air Transportation Revolution. The Council aims to start the business services of air transportation of goods and people utilizing flying vehicles by 2023 with gradual expansion from rural areas to urban areas. According to the blueprint, the Civil Aviation Bureau of the MLIT is studying and improving related systems such as the type and airworthiness safety standards for flying cars and the certification of pilots.
Watch a video of the trial flight on YouTube here: https://youtu.be/2WaYLNG5zX0
Why it’s important: While the first flight of the 216 AAV in Japan is a momentous occasion, more important than the flight itself is the means by which EHang applied for and was granted approval through the Ministry of Land, Infrastructure, Transport and Tourism of Japan (“MLIT”) in conjunction with a local partner. These approvals are key to authorization for initial flight testing, and in the future, more widespread authorizations for operations of aerial mobility aircraft for fare paying passengers.