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Flying Taxi Company Expands for Pilotless Aerial Sightseeing

Construction of multiple urban air mobility operation centers for hubs for sightseeing and transportation are planned

Chuck Martin

January 29, 2024

4 Min Read
EHang Holdings

A Chinese eVTOL (electric vertical takeoff and landing) vehicle maker is expanding with plans for passenger-carrying aerial sightseeing in pilotless flying vehicles.

EHang Holdings formed a strategic partnership with the Bureau of Culture, Radio, Television, Tourism and Sports of Luohu District, Shenzhen municipality, to grow its electric aerial vehicle (EAV) business in the cultural, commercial and tourism sectors.

As part of the agreement, the construction of multiple urban air mobility (UAM) operation centers to serve as hubs for both aerial sightseeing and public transportation are expected to be created.

The EH216-S EAV from EHang previously received a standard airworthiness certificate (AC) from the Civil Aviation Administration of China (CAAC), the first of its kind globally for an EAV.

“As the EH216-S obtained the world's first type certificate and standard airworthiness certificate of its kind of pilotless passenger-carrying eVTOL, EHang has strategically laid out operation centers across Shenzhen,” said Xin Fang, chief operating officer of EHang. “Moving forward, the EH216-S will expand its presence to more landmarks within Shenzhen to gradually explore an increasing number of new models.”

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. 

Related:Flying Taxi Company Starts Vehicle Deliveries; Pilotless Travel

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.

EHang has been active in marketing its self-flying vehicles globally.

For example, the company recently delivered an EAV to ETON, an aviation technology subsidiary of Guangzhou Development District Communications Investment Group, which is managed by the government of Huangpu District in Guangzhou.

The plan is to use the EAV for aerial tourism in Guangzhou.

EHang also extended its operations to the United Arab Emirates (UAE) including the sale of up to 100 of its flying vehicles.

EHang 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.

The two companies plan to develop urban air transportation and smart city management in the UAE, Middle East and North Africa regions.

The cluster, led by the Abu Dhabi Department of Economic Development and the Abu Dhabi Investment Office, aims to establish Abu Dhabi as a hub for smart and autonomous vehicles. 

Related:Flying Taxi Company Expands Into UAE; 100-Vehicle Sale

As part of this new agreement, Ehang plans to work with Wings Logistics to obtain local certification of its EAV in the UAE.

Wings Logistics Hub intends to buy up to 100 of the EH216 flying vehicles from EHang with the first deliveries starting in early 2024.

Ehang recently opened a UAM center at the Lleida–Alguaire International Airport (LEDA) in Catalonia, Spain, to manage its EAVs there.

The UAM center includes a vertiport, which incorporates the airport terminal, platform, control tower and airport regulations, aims to enable the vertical takeoff and landings of EAVs.

During the EAV validation process, which included more than 40,000 test flights, the vehicle underwent laboratory, ground and flight tests at test sites across multiple locations in China, according to the company.

The tests included “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,” according to the company. 

The EAV company has raised $23 million in a private placement, mostly from a well-known South Korean music producer.

Related:South Korean Music Producer Funds China Flying Vehicle Venture

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About the Author(s)

Chuck Martin

Editorial Director AI & IoT

Chuck Martin, a New York Times Business Bestselling author, futurist and columnist, 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 is titled "Flying Vehicles" (The Emergence of Personal Air Travel, Flying Cars, and Air Taxis). He also is the author of "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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