EHang obtains approval from Chinese authorities to test passenger drone

EHang announced that the company has received approval from the Civil Aviation Administration of China (CAAC) to test its passenger drone, the EHang 216. The company says that it “became the world’s first AAV company approved by a national aviation authority to carry out commercial pilot operation for the category of 330-pound-plus heavy-lift air logistics uses,” in China.

EHang obtains approval from Chinese authorities to test passenger drone

This approval was granted based on the Pilot Operation Rules (Interim) for Specific Unmanned Aircraft promulgated by the CAAC in February 2019 for different categories of specific unmanned aircraft including passenger-grade AAVs. It is a pioneering regulation for which the CAAC applied the Specific Operation Risk Assessment (“SORA”) framework of the Joint Authorities for Rulemaking of Unmanned Systems (“JARUS”), a group of experts from the national aviation authorities of 61 countries, including China and the U.S., and the European Aviation Safety Agency (“EASA”) and EUROCONTROL.

“I am pleased to see the fast development that EHang has achieved in China and globally, and that the flight test program of its passenger-grade AAVs were successfully verified by the CAAC to be granted with this approval,” said CAAC Deputy Administrator Li Jian. “It can be a safe and efficient solution to transport cargo.”

With this approval, trial air logistics service using the EHang 216 would be carried out to transport cargo between ground and hilltop and between shore and islands at a customer site in Taizhou. It is also intended to be gradually expanded to other sites in China as it accumulates operational data and experience.

“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. 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,” said EHang Founder, Chairman and CEO Hu Huazhi. “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 (“UAM”) applications.”

As the first company approved for the passenger-grade AAV airworthiness certification pilot program by the CAAC and as a member of the CAAC Special Expert Taskforce, the accumulated flight trials and tests conducted by EHang contributed significant practical experience to the CAAC to further develop and evolve regulations and standards related to passenger-grade AAVs.

Air logistics is an essential UAM application with huge market potential. According to Morgan Stanley, the global UAM market size could reach US$1.5 trillion by 2040. Air logistics is expected to one of the initial applications for commercialization.

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