China’s EHang on Monday said it has signed a memorandum of understanding (MoU) with Hong Kong-based aerospace engineering and maintenance company Haeco that calls for the companies to cooperate in several areas of joint interest such as manufacturing and assembly, continued airworthiness, digital platforms, aircraft maintenance, and talent training. The companies plan to co-develop systems and products that cater to the needs of continued airworthiness and after-sales maintenance services in preparation for the commercial operation of the EH216-S, EHang’s passenger-grade autonomous aerial vehicle (AAV).
“Advanced air mobility is a blooming new segment in the aviation industry,” commented Haeco group director for airframe services Jacqueline Jiang. “We are excited to take part and look forward to developing this together with EHang. With over 70 years of experience in the industry and offering a wide range of aviation products and services, Haeco is well positioned to support EHang and jointly develop the systems, standards, and services required in advanced air mobility.”
EHang has begun accelerating compliance and verification test flights with its EH216-S as part of the type certification process for the two-seat autonomous eVTOL aircraft approved by the Civil Aviation Administration of China (CAAC). On September 30, the Guangzhou-based company reported that the regulator validated 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 logged more than 30,000 trial flights with prototype aircraft and that recent tests having generated positive results covering factors such as aerodynamic algorithms and safety margins. It added that it conducted some test flights in extreme environments such as high altitudes, deserts, heavy fog, and even typhoon weather conditions.
In a statement, EHang COO Xin Fang praised Haeco for its expertise in maintenance, repair, and overhaul and its capacity to facilitate continued airworthiness of the EH216-S after it gains airworthiness certification. Although Xin indicated during a March briefing that the company could complete certification work as soon as mid-2022, the company has yet to specify an anticipated timeline for completing the approval process.
“EHang is honored to cooperate with Haeco Group, a partner with solid maintenance, repair and overhaul strength in the global aviation industry, to co-develop EHang’s AAV after-sales maintenance service system to provide our customers with higher quality and more efficient services across the globe, which will also facilitate the continued airworthiness of EH216-S AAV after the completion of its airworthiness certification,” said Xin in a statement released Monday. “Moreover, this partnership is a critical step EHang has taken for its strategic goal of becoming an urban air mobility platform operator, and it will also drive the emerging global UAM industry to explore more comprehensive, efficient, and sustainable operating service mechanism and ecosystem.”