EHang is stepping up compliance and verification test flights with its EH216-S as part of the type certification process for the two-seat autonomous eVTOL aircraft agreed with the Civil Aviation Administration of China (CAAC). On September 30, the Guangzhou-based company reported that the regulator has approved what it called the Project Specific Certification Plan, based on the confirmation of multiple aspects of the program, including performance and flight, structural strength, design and configuration, airborne human-computer interaction, the functioning of the ground control station, and continuing airworthiness.
In February 2022, the CAAC formally adopted the special condition rules under which it intends to certify the passenger-carrying -S model of the all-electric EH216 vehicle. In its latest update, EHang said it has now logged more than 30,000 trial flights with prototype aircraft to date, with recent tests having generated positive results covering factors such as aerodynamic algorithms and safety margins. It added that some test flights have been conducted in extreme environments such as high altitudes, deserts, heavy fog, and even typhoon weather conditions.
Without specifying its anticipated timeline for completing the approval process, EHang indicated it believes it is on track to achieve the world’s first type certification of an autonomous eVTOL vehicle. In a March 2022 briefing, COO Xin Fang indicated that certification could be completed as soon as mid-2022.
“We are fully confident to obtain the EH216-S type certificate as we have basically done the most arduous work by now,” said EHang founder, chairman, and CEO Huazhi Hu. “We will make continued efforts to accelerate all the remaining processes in the upcoming months in order to obtain the EH216-S type certificate as soon as possible.”
The EH216-S is intended mainly for short-range air taxi service of up to around 22 miles in urban areas, and also for applications such as tourist sightseeing flights. EHang is also developing versions of the aircraft that could be used for roles such as cargo transportation, emergency medical support, and firefighting.