Home » This Bonkers Self-Flying Air Taxi Was Just Cleared for Commercial Flights in China

This Bonkers Self-Flying Air Taxi Was Just Cleared for Commercial Flights in China

by multimill
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EHang just became a clear frontrunner in the flying taxi race.  

The Chinese firm’s electric vertical takeoff and landing aircraft (eVTOL) has been cleared for commercial operations by the Civil Aviation Administration of China. The type certificate for the EH216, which was issued on Friday, will see EHang’s commercial flights begin well ahead of American and European competitors. (The FAA and EASA aviation authorities aren’t widely expected to start issuing comparable certificates for eVTOLs until 2024 at the earliest.) 

The 216 is an outlier in terms of design, too. The aircraft is fully autonomous, whereas most other air taxis on the market will be piloted. The two passengers aboard needn’t worry about safety, though. The EH216 will be monitored by a control center on the ground, which can take over in order to land it in an emergency.

Regarding grunt, the bubble-shaped craft is equipped with a 17 kW battery and 16 propellers that are turned by 16 electric motors. It can cruise at roughly 60 mph or hit 81 mph at full tilt. It can also cover around 20 miles between charges, but the range depends on the payload.

The 216 has actually been in the skies for quite a while. It recently embarked on a two-year world tour and carried out 2,000 flights in 21 cities and six countries. To cap it off, the craft made the world’s first commercial trip with passengers in July 2020. It has now flown some 10,000 passengers on “demonstration flights.” The recent certification means that EHang can start charging passengers for flights and begin to scale up operations.

Seven new EVTOLs that could flying in the next two years.

The fully autonomous aircraft can carry two passengers.

Courtesy eHang

“Our self-developed EH216 passenger-carrying UAV system has finally met high expectations to secure the first TC in the global eVTOL industry, marking a significant chapter in civil aviation history,” EHang founder, chairman, and CEO Huazhi Hu said in a statement. “Embracing the TC as our springboard, we will launch commercial operations of the EH216 unmanned eVTOLs, prioritizing safety above all.”

Frontrunner, indeed.

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