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Mon, Oct 16, 2023

Chinese Aviation Authority Type Certifies EHang EH216-S eVTOL

Something Borrowed, Something Flew

The Civil Aviation Administration of China (CAAC) has granted type certification to the EH216-S, an unmanned, eVTOL multi-copter designed and manufactured by EHang Holdings Limited (EHang), a Guangzhou-based Chinese developer of Autonomous Aerial Vehicles (AAV). The certification authorizes, more or less, the EH216-S’s utilization in commercial passenger-carrying operations—a world first.

CAAC issued the EH216-S type certificate to EHang during a 13 October 2023 ceremony in Beijing.

The EHang EH216-S is a two-seat, unmanned, eVTOL multi-copter compelled aloft by an electric propulsion scheme turning 16 rotors in a coaxial double-blade design. The contraption is capable, ostensibly of maintaining flight for an interval of 25-minutes, during which it can allegedly cover distances of up to 22-nautical-miles. While the preponderance of EH216-S test-flight, to date, have been manned, the aircraft is intended to operate autonomously, monitored by ground personnel stationed at an EHang command-and-control facility. Austrian aerostructures supplier FACC AG partnered with EHang to certify and produce the aircraft in Europe, within simpler certification requirements for takeoff weights below 1,320-pounds.

On 29 September 2023, EHang delivered five units of its EH216-S Shenzhen Boling Holding Group Co., Ltd. (Boling), which intends to acquire a total of one-hundred specimens of the aircraft with which the company—in partnership with Shenzhen’s Bao’an District government—intends to found an aerial tourism and sightseeing enterprise.

The five-score EH2016-S AAVs will support regular flight operations at EHang’s inaugural Urban Air Mobility (UAM) Operation Demonstration Center in the Bao’an District’s OH Bay enclave. Boling and local authorities contend lessons learned at OH Bay will inform the near-future founding of commercial EH216-S operations in Shenzhen, and contribute significantly to the development of China’s so-called low-altitude economy—of which UAM is a key component.

According to the Chinese Communist government’s Plan for Innovative Development of Low-Altitude Economy Industries in Bao'an District, Shenzhen (2023-2025), UAM—in addition to sightseeing and tourism—will sustain sectors the likes of aerial logistics, emergency rescue, city management, urban planning, industrial monitoring and security, and entertainment.

Currently, over fifty low-altitude unmanned flight routes across a network comprising upwards of one-hundred landing-platforms are planned throughout the Shenzhen region.

Since the CAAC’s formal, 2021 acceptance of EHang’s application for EH216-S type certification, EHang’s engineers have worked closely with the CAAC toward validating the aircraft’s constituent technologies. All told, the certification process spanned in excess of one-thousand days (2.74-years) and more than forty-thousand test-flights.

During the validation process, the EH216-S underwent extensive laboratory, ground, and flight testing at numerous sites across China. Subject tests included but were not limited to main material performance, structural strength, flame resistance, crashworthiness, gas toxicity, environmental conditions of equipment and systems, software simulation, data links, ground control stations, overall system functionality, electromagnetic compatibility, flight performance and flight stability characteristics. The validation process scrutinized components, equipment, and the aggregate aircraft for manufacturing defects, faults, and interferences.

EHang founder and CEO Huazhi Hu stated: “I extend my heartfelt gratitude to CAAC, the expert team, and all EHang employees for their unwavering dedication. Our self-developed EH216-S passenger-carrying UAV system has finally met high expectations to secure the first TC in the global eVTOL industry, marking a significant chapter in civil aviation history. Embracing the TC as our springboard, we will launch commercial operations of the EH216-S unmanned eVTOLs, prioritizing safety above all. This will enable us to steadily progress towards our strategic goal to be a UAM platform operator, and commit to our mission to enable safe, autonomous, and eco-friendly air mobility accessible to everyone.”

FMI: www.ehang.com

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