EHang announced on September 3rd that their EHang 216 and Falcon logistics models 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.
The Estonian Transport Administration issued a Special Permit to EHang for trial flights in designated Estonian airspace until the end of 2021.
The EHang 216 is the first passenger-grade AAV to have conducted BVLOS trial flights in Estonian airspace. During its live trials, the EHang 216 performed a flight mission of a VIP passenger transport scenario from the Tartu Airport to the Estonian Aviation Museum, with no passengers onboard, to demonstrate the uses cases and scenarios of eVTOL (electric vertical take-off and landing) intra-urban and peri-urban flights. The EHang Falcon logistics model completed a flight mission of parcel delivery from the Tartu Airport to a cargo terminal at the Estonian Aviation Museum, to demonstrate the uses cases and scenarios of automated parcel delivery drones operating at low level.
These trial flights are among the first wave of trials in the two-year GOF 2.0 project, with the focus of entry to and exit from defined airspaces. The trials demonstrate how manned and unmanned aviation can enter and leave various types of airspace, such as controlled/uncontrolled airspace and U-space airspace.
EHang has conducted multiple trial and demo flights of its passenger-grade AAVs in 10 countries across Asia, Europe, and North America. The company will continue further involvements in GOF 2.0 and plans 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. These trial flights are an important enabler for the further development of the unmanned aerial vehicle market and will deliver the technical components (services, software, competencies, practices) required to cost-efficiently operate autonomous and semi-autonomous aerial vehicles BVLOS in urban low-level shared airspace.
Watch the video of the trial flights in Estonia:
Why it’s important: Operation of AAVs in new countries will further bolster the integrity of agreements for logistical and eventually passenger mobility operations. With a larger number of discussions taking place between local and national aviation authorities, definition of regulatory requirements will become more clear for AAV operators, which in turn will inform the design process to customize their aircraft for plug and play operability in various countries. Currently, logistics applications are the testbed for such trial flights since they reduce the risks associated with carrying human passengers, but still define the same requirements for AAVs operating within controlled airspace and near densely populated areas.
Source // EHang Press Release