China-based urban air mobility company EHang has received commercial pilot operation approval from the Civil Aviation Administration of China (CAAC) for its EHang 216 autonomous aerial vehicle (AAV). The approval, which covers air logistics operations, was granted based on the CAAC’s Pilot Operation Rules (Interim) for Specific Unmanned Aircraft. According to EHang, it is the first company to be approved by a national aviation authority to conduct AAV commercial pilot operations in the 150-kilogram (330-pound)-plus heavy-lift air logistics category.
“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,” said EHang founder and CEO Hu Huazhi “For EHang, it enables us to enhance our first-mover advantage and accelerate the commercialization of AAV technology and air mobility solutions for logistics. It also lays a foundation for regulators around the world to jointly explore and establish a coordinated, supportive and sustainable regulatory environment.”
The company intends to begin a trial air logistics service using the EHang 216 for an unnamed customer in Taizhou, China, with plans to expand to other locations in the country “as it accumulates operational data and experience.” The autonomous EHang 216 is an all-electric vertical take-off and landing (eVTOL) vehicle capable of carrying payloads of up to 220 kg (485 lbs). It has a range of 35 km (22 miles), cruise speed of 100 km/h (62 mph) and is powered by 16 electric motors. As previously reported by AVweb, EHang is also in the process of establishing a low-altitude passenger transportation network in Guangzhou, China, using the 216.