Aircraft

EHang air taxi approved for heavy-lift air logistics in China

EHang air taxi approved for he...
EHang's 216 autonomous aerial vehicle is now approved to carry over 150 kg of cargo
EHang's 216 autonomous aerial vehicle is now approved to carry over 150 kg of cargo
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EHang's 216 autonomous aerial vehicle is now approved to carry over 150 kg of cargo
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EHang's 216 autonomous aerial vehicle is now approved to carry over 150 kg of cargo
Air logistics trials have begun at a customer site in Taizhou in the Zhejiang province of China
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Air logistics trials have begun at a customer site in Taizhou in the Zhejiang province of China
The Director General of the Civil Aviation Administration of China's Air Traffic Regulation Office Xu Hao granting the pilot operation approval to EHang recently
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The Director General of the Civil Aviation Administration of China's Air Traffic Regulation Office Xu Hao granting the pilot operation approval to EHang recently
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Air mobility company EHang has achieved another important milestone in its effort to make its passenger-grade autonomous aerial vehicles a common sight in the skies. The Civil Aviation Administration of China (CCAC) has granted permission for the air taxis to be used for heavy-lift logistics.

Under regulations introduced in February 2019 by the CAAC, EHang becomes the first company to be granted airworthiness certification for a passenger-grade autonomous air vehicle (AAV). Air logistics trials are now being carried out at a customer site in Taizhou in the Zhejiang province of China, transporting cargo between ground level and hilltop locations, as well as between shore and islands.

This development follows an air tourism collaboration with LN Holdings to take hotel guests on aerial sightseeing jaunts, and is intended to be the first of a number of air logistics operations undertaken by the company, rolled out to other sites as EHang gains more experience and gathers vital operational data.

The AAV that's now authorized to carry over 150 kg (330 lb) of cargo per flight is the EHang 216, a two-person electric air taxi that's reported capable of a top speed of 130 km/h (80 mph) and a maximum flight time of 21 minutes per charge.

Air logistics trials have begun at a customer site in Taizhou in the Zhejiang province of China
Air logistics trials have begun at a customer site in Taizhou in the Zhejiang province of China

"We are thrilled that the CAAC and EHang took the lead on the world’s first commercial pilot operation approval of passenger-grade AAVs for air logistics uses," said the company's founder, chairman and CEO Hu Huazhi. "This approval is of great significance. For EHang, it enables us to enhance our first-mover advantage and accelerate the commercialization of AAV technology and air mobility solutions for logistics.

"It also lays a foundation for regulators around the world to jointly explore and establish a coordinated, supportive and sustainable regulatory environment. This will benefit the long-term development of the promising Urban Air Mobility applications."

You can see the EHang 216 undergoing test flights at Taizhou in the video below.

EHang Obtained World’s First Commercial Pilot Operation Approval of AAVs for Air Logistics Uses

Source: EHang

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10 comments
guzmanchinky
I think this is so cool. I know the Chinese have a habit of "approve first, test later" but they will blow everyone away unless we allow some risk in our regulation of this new and unstoppable industry...
Towerman
This is beyond exciting ! ! Ehang is starting to creating Waves in the industry ! ! Accomplishing more than their crawl paced western competition. SOON i will move to China ! ! Well Done to the whole EHANG TEAM !
paul314
How does this differ from a similar-sized helicopter carrying cargo? Smaller landing footprint? Cheaper pilot certification?
Graeme S
21 minutes flight time .... your dreaming
guzmanchinky
paul314 it differs only in the way it does it. These are electric and mostly autonomous. A regular helicopter can still do many more things for much longer duration, but this is the first steps of what will probably replace them someday, or at least the smaller helicopters. Towerman, the west is developing many similar systems, but our regulations are more strict. Even in the video the Chinese say the rules will become more strict as they progress as well. No need to move yet...
Towerman
@Paul
What a question ! It differs by too many revolutionary factors to mention ! First and foremost, they are all electric with no complicated gearboxes and maintenance prone service intervals, absolutely amazing ! This fact alone blows everything out of the competition hands down ! Second, autonomy and Multirotors and because its electric have systems integrated into it that was designed from the very start to be extremely integratable with systems self complimenting each other in ways ICE systems cannot. The technology is much more customizable and easily upgradable.

That makes reaction times via split seconds, rather than to have to wait for changes with internal combustion engines.
3rd, we have a propulsion system that instantly starts and stops, no hazardous rotorblades spooling up for several minutes before take off and landing and a smaller footprint.

4th Clean, it's clean, yes it it is as our energy dependancy in futire will come from green technology, so in complimentary fasion so will charginf these machines come from a clean source ! These are simply 4 reasons, i can write 56 more ! !

@ Graehem S
Not at all whatsoever dreaming, it's happening ;) 21 minutes is barely the warmup, it the start of the integration and systematic implementation of these craft into commercial society that is revolutionary. 21 minutes is plenty enough to get people from A to B. Studies suggest that people only travel in a radius of 50km from home, so no need for long hauls. But as the batteries improve long hauls will come anyway.

Towerman
@ guzmanchinky
Indeed the West is developing many systems, tested in Germany Asia and Dubai to name a few major areas, i have been following all this very closely ;) I extensively comment on this site on almost every manned multirotor article. The regulations has always been this behind the times but as you yourself said, the only way this will really move forward in the west is if some risk are being taken, the industry is too behind the times and stagnating with change, not good at all, China will surpass the West because of this backward thinking mentality, and i coming from the west will support that 100% as we are not getting anywhere near to their progress in terms of practical integration, (there is loads of talks and deals being struck in the west, but nothing much happening)
Karnik
Very exciting no doubt but, the naysayers of the helicopter keep in mind that in case of power loss the helicopter can autorotate and make a safe landing. How do you do that with small fixed pitch propellers. I think the future of personal air mobility lies with electric autonomous helicopters. The cost and complexity might be more than a quad but, safety and performance would be higher. Also, once they are mass produced economies of scale will bring down the cost of the helicopter.
martinwinlow
Clearly it's just me that thinks having several propellers whizzing around at knee-height is just fundamentally a *bad* idea... not to mention that the centre of gravity would be much better served were it a lot lower than the propeller plane. As it is, it is no-where near as stable as a similar craft with rotor/propeller plane much higher. Just how many helicopters have their been with the blades mounted *underneath* the cabin?! Lastly, jumping ut of one would be... interesting. Again, not an issue for the usual high-prop-type of machine.
Towerman
@martinwinlow
CLEARLY you do not understand the robustness and super stable flight of EVTOL's at all, and YES it is just you, the propellers on aircraft are a 100 times more dangerous yet they are certified and operational for over a century now ! Electric propellers start and stop instantly, the propellers will never turn while you walk about the aircraft, this is really multicopter 101 basics. They are super stable, helicopters are prone to ground effect, dynamic rollover, and being caught in a vortex. Multirotors are multitudes safer !