EHang, the world’s leading autonomous aerial vehicle (AAV) technology platform company, conducted its first-ever U.S. trial flight of its two-seater passenger-grade AAV, the EHang 216, as part of the North Carolina Transportation Summit hosted by the North Carolina Department of Transportation (NCDOT) on January 8 and 9, 2020.
This represents the first time that the EHang 216 has received flight approval from the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA). While this was a non-passenger flight, EHang is working with the FAA to secure approval for a passenger trial flight of the EHang 216 in the near future.
“Our mission is to make safe, autonomous, and eco-friendly air mobility accessible to everyone and this trial flight represents a significant step towards bringing our urban air mobility solutions to the U.S. market,” said EHang founder, chairman, and CEO Huazhi Hu. “Pilotless air taxis have the power to transform everyday life in urban areas since they can lessen pollution, expedite emergency services, and save individuals and businesses time and money through shorter travel times.”
Roy Cooper, the North Carolina Governor, said, “We are proud to have the first autonomous aerial vehicle flying in North America, in North Carolina. Obviously, they are beginning this all of the world and this technology and what it means for transportation, both cargo and passengers, is pretty astronomical. This gonna be very positive for the economy. We want North Carolina to be on the cutting edge of this technology and we’re proud to have EHang here to show and demonstrate to us what can be done with this technology. It’s taking off. We North Carolina has become the pilot that can help move this kind of business forward. We are excited about that.”
To date, EHang has safely conducted over two thousand trial flights in the United States, China, Austria, the Netherlands, Qatar, and the UAE to ensure that its AAVs operate safely and reliably in different areas globally.
EHang is the first UAM company to realize commercialization for its passenger-grade AAVs, having already delivered 38 units to customers as of December 5, 2019.
Prior to this debut flight in the U.S., two EHang 216 AAVs completed simultaneous trial flights of their commercial sightseeing applications in Guangzhou, China on November 30, 2019. These trial flights are part of EHang’s joint initiative with the government of Guangzhou to develop Guangzhou to be EHang’s first urban air mobility pilot city. These trial flights will enable EHang to test flight routes and vertiports to implement the initiative.
In January 2019, EHang was selected by the Civil Aviation Administration of China as the country’s first and only pilot company for passenger-grade AAV operation programs. In May 2019, EHang launched trial operations of urban air cargo transportation in collaboration with the express delivery company DHL-Sinotrans along a customized flight route of approximately 5 miles (8km) in Donguan, China.
EHang has three main business pillars: urban air mobility (including passenger transportation and logistics), smart city management, and aerial media. These pillars are underpinned by a comprehensive suite of operational service support for AAV customers including training, maintenance, command-and-control system set-up, and flight monitoring.