Air Taxi Flies in Saudi Arabia; Pilotless Travel

EHang's pilotless air taxi takes maiden autonomous flight in Saudi Arabia

Chuck Martin, Editorial Director AI & IoT

June 14, 2024

3 Min Read
The debut flight of EHang's EH216-S pilotless eVTOL in Saudi Arabia
EHang

A pilotless air taxi from Chinese eVTOL (electric vertical takeoff and landing) vehicle maker EHang Holdings took its maiden autonomous flight in Saudi Arabia.

The EHang vehicle flew in Mecca in conjunction with Front End Limited Company, a Saudi company that serves various industries

In Saudi Arabia, EHang is supported by Saudi Arabia’s General Authority of Civil Aviation, the Ministry of Transport and Logistics Services, the Ministry of Hajj and the Ministry of Interior.

"This debut flight of the EH216-S pilotless eVTOL in Saudi Arabia marks a significant milestone in EHang's ongoing internationalization and an important step forward in propelling global advanced UAM reform, showcasing the potential of our pilotless eVTOL products and solutions for widespread adoption in the Middle Eastern market,” said Huazhi Hu, founder and CEO of EHang. 

Saleh_AL-Jassar.jpg

EHang recently signed a deal to sell 50 of its electric aerial vehicles (EAV) flying vehicles to Xishan Tourism in a deal valued at $15 million.

Xishan Tourism signed a purchase agreement for an additional 450 EAVs over the next two years as it plans to use the self-flying vehicles for aerial tourism and passenger transportation.

Before the Saudi Arabia flight, EHang recently took its first passenger for a demonstration ride in Abu Dhabi.

Related:Flying Taxi Carries First Passenger; Pilotless Travel

The EAV took off from the Emirates Falcons Aviation Club with Mohamed Al Dhaheri, board member of Multi Level Group and EHang strategic partner, as the sole passenger.

The passenger flight followed demonstrations of the EAV conducted without passengers at the DriftX mobility expo in Abu Dhabi.

The EAV maker joined the Smart and Autonomous Vehicle Industries Cluster in Abu Dhabi and formed a partnership with Wings Logistics Hub, a passenger eVTOL subsidiary of Technology Holding Company.

EHang also is collaborating with the Abu Dhabi Investment Office (ADIO) for EAV development in the UAE.

EAV battery charging times are expected to take fewer than 10 minutes to charge from 30% to 80%, according to EHang.

At the DriftX mobility event in Abu Dhabi, EHang signed a deal with ADIO to further drive eVTOL development in the UAE region.

EHang received the Production Certificate (PC) for its EH216-S from the Civil Aviation Administration of China (CAAC). 

The $410,000  EAV previously received a standard airworthiness certificate (AC) from the CACC, the first of its kind globally for an EAV. The company is now authorized for mass production.

EHang recently conducted a demonstration flight of its pilotless flying vehicle in Latin America, flying the EAV at the Reserva Conchal Resort in Costa Rica.

Related:Flying Taxi Company Expands in China; Sets Vehicle Price at $410K

The flight was held in front of national authorities and media to help promote advanced air mobility (AAM) in the region.

EHang also has flown a group of 12 EAVs together in China. In a video, the 12 flying vehicles took off together from an airfield in Hefei, China, on what appeared to be a snowy day.

The long-range goal of the flying vehicles industry is to have EAVs evolve from piloted vehicles, such as the coming air taxis, to aerial vehicles that fly automatically, with no crew onboard. 

While some EAV makers such as Wisk in the U.S. are planning to start this way in the future, it is not in the most recent Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) electric aerial vehicle planning documents.

Read more about:

Flying Cars

About the Author(s)

Chuck Martin

Editorial Director AI & IoT

Chuck Martin, author of "Flying Vehicles," New York Times Business Bestselling author and futurist, is Editorial Director at Informa Tech, home of AI Business, IoT World Today and Enter Quantum. Martin has been a leader in emerging digital technologies for more than two decades. He is considered one of the foremost emerging technology experts in the world and his latest book title "Flying Vehicles" (The Emergence of Personal Air Travel, Flying Cars, and Air Taxis) followed "Digital Transformation 3.0" (The New Business-to-Consumer Connections of The Internet of Things).  He hosts a worldwide podcast titled “The Voices of the Internet of Things with Chuck Martin,” where he converses with top executives from the companies driving the adoption of emerging technology.

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