EHang Holdings Limited “Ehang” has announced its progress towards obtaining the Production Certificate (PC) and Airworthiness Certificate (AC) for the EH216-S, its self-developed passenger-carrying Unmanned Aerial Vehicle system. This milestone has been achieved in conjunction with the Civil Aviation Administration of China (CAAC).

Under the guidance of the CAAC Central and Southern Regional Administration, EHang is diligently working to obtain their Production Certificate for the EH216-S and commence production of the EH216-S according to its Type Certificate (TC). Documentation review and practical assessments are now complete, and inspection and testing at the facility are well underway. The inaugural batch of EH216-S passenger-carrying UAVs is slated to roll off the production line in the fourth quarter of 2023, with customer deliveries set to follow.

Earlier this month on October 13th, the CAAC officially granted the Type Certificate for the EH216-S passenger-carrying aircraft. This achievement features one of the first civil aviation agencies to approve the certification of an eVTOL aircraft. The certification process for the EH216-S TC adhered to airworthiness standards originally established for manned aircraft, further affirming the ability of eVTOL aircraft to meet the same safety and performance standards.

The EH216-S TC is a world-first for passenger-carrying unmanned Electric Vertical Takeoff and Landing (eVTOL) aircraft, showcasing the CAAC’s recognition of the importance of aerial mobility aircraft within the future landscape. EHang is dedicated to continuously optimizing the product’s performance to enhance public safety.

The Type Certificate Data Sheet (TCDS), released alongside the TC, outlines the aircraft’s operational restrictions and progressive risk approach. This approach prioritizes safe operations and public accountability, ensuring the EH216-S’s introduction into urban airspace proceeds cautiously and methodically.

For the initial phase, EHang has agreed to operational limitations in consultation with the CAAC, gradually lifting restrictions to enable comprehensive unmanned commercial operations in urban areas. Stringent safety measures will include extra observers and a prohibition on flights over water, although exceptions may apply for aerial tourism, sightseeing experiences, and other low-altitude flights over certain water bodies as needed.

Why it’s important: The EH216-S has also successfully completed high-altitude test flights, confirming its capabilities for operations in challenging environments. EHang’s commitment to safety and gradual expansion of operational scenarios and altitudes is leading the way in China’s aerial mobility scene. Note that it is not determined at this time what bilateral regulatory agreements are in place that would allow EHang’s certification of the EH216-S in China to apply to other countries/agencies. To complicate matters further, the current regulatory framework for eVTOL certification is fragmented and requires additional burden on the Applicant to show compliance in a variety of methods for different system safety design criteria to meet standards for JCAB, EASA, and FAA to name a few.

Posted by Naish Gaubatz