Two of EHang's 216 AAVs perform flight demonstrations in Shenzhen. The CAAC has formally published Special Conditions for Type Certification of the EH216-S vehicles. (Photo: EHang)
The Civil Aviation Administration of China (CAAC) recently announced that the Special Conditions for Type Certification of EHang’s EH216-S aircraft have been formally adopted. EHang, developer of autonomous aerial vehicle (AAV) products and solutions, unveiled its first model, the 184, in 2016. The EH216 air taxi, an unmanned vehicle designed for low-altitude passenger transportation in the urban air mobility (UAM) sector, made its debut in 2019. The CAAC established a type certification team for the EH216 in April 2021. By formally adopting the Special Conditions for the aircraft, EHang now has a basis for compliance and safety of these vehicles, “including flight performance, structures, design and constructions, propulsion systems, systems and equipment, data link and ground control station,” according to the news release from EHang.
A representative from EHang told Avionics in an emailed statement that “the Special Conditions defined the requirements for EH216-S, [that it] is expected to fly in low-altitude airspace and target commercial operations with passengers onboard in the environment of UAM.”
The Special Conditions dictate how EHang will carry out compliance verification, which is the next goal for the company to achieve before obtaining Type Certification of the EH216-S. Once airworthiness certification is achieved, the team plans to carry out commercial UAM operations with the aircraft.
Pictured is the EH216 performing a flight demonstration in Okayama Prefecture in Japan. (Photo: EHang)
When riding in EHang’s air taxi, the company envisions passengers will be able to travel by selecting their destination, and the vehicle will autonomously fly the pre-determined path with no other input necessary. One advantage for future UAM operations is that EHang’s “proprietary in-flight operating systems and on-the-ground infrastructure enable reliable and simultaneous control of a large number of AAVs.”
The aircraft’s flight components are designed with backup systems in order to be fully redundant to increase flight safety. For example, the EH216 possesses 16 propellers, so that if one propeller were to fail while in flight, the vehicle would be able to continue flying without any safety concerns. Other redundancies include flight control systems, batteries, battery management systems, sensors, and propulsion systems. According to the company’s representative, “The built-in fail-safe system automatically assesses the operation status of EH216 and every one of its components in real time. In case of malfunction of any components, their backup systems can immediately and seamlessly come online to ensure safety. The fail-safe assesses the safety condition and determines whether to continue the flight or to land at a nearby safe location.”
The Special Conditions dictate how EHang will carry out compliance verification, which is the next goal for the company to achieve before obtaining Type Certification of the EH216-S. (Photo: EHang)
At the end of 2021, EHang announced a partnership with Guangzhou Development District Communications Investment Group to launch the 5G Intelligent Air Mobility Experience Center at the Innovation Park in Guangzhou, China. This city is a UAM pilot site for EHang, and the Experience Center will have a take-off and landing vertiport in addition to an automatic parking garage. One of the Center’s main functions will be to enable trial operations of electric aircraft such as the EH216 model and the Falcon B drone.
EHang shared in January 2022 that they received a pre-order for 50 aircraft from AirX Inc., an air mobility digital platform company based in Japan. AirX ordered the EH216 model in preparation for multiple UAM operations in Japan, including potential air taxi services at the 2025 World Expo in Osaka.
EHang claims to have successfully carried passengers in their aircraft as far back as 2015, and has completed test flights and demonstrations and 10 different countries.