It was previously reported on this site that EHang might be closing down. Their cofounder and CMO, Derrick Xiong, later wrote us to say that their financial position was solid and invited us to address any further questions to their Director of Public Relations, Anne Ji. Following is a transcript of the QA with Ms. Ji, lightly edited for clarity.
DL: Have there been a rounds of layoffs at EHang in the last year? If so, how would you size them — for example as a percentage of the overall number of employees or in terms of the number of employees
EH: Last year, EHang conducted an adjustment of strategy [that shifted] focus from consumer business to air mobility and commercial use segments, with downsizing about 50 employees in China.
DL: Have you closed any offices?
EH: With the corporate strategy adjustment, we closed our overseas offices, which were primarily for the consumer business. Currently, the integrated management and operations from our headquarter is more suitable for our B2B business development with global partners.
DL: Was the EHang 184 tested in Dubai and was the test successful?
EH: Dubai RTA* has already experimented the EHang 184 in a trial flight in Dubai sky at the test site of the Dubai Civil Aviation Authority (DCAA) at the beginning of this year. Test flights have been carried out especially at deserts and coastal environments to complete a number of adaptive aviation flight test subjects. During the trials, DCAA has made a supportive contribution in defining the safety criteria required, issuing the permits for trial and inspecting the vehicle. You can watch the onsite video of the EHang 184 flight tests at http://www.ehang.com/news/248.html .
*RTA stand for Dubai’s Road and Transport Authority
DL: Has the EHang been flown successfully elsewhere?
EH: EHang has been conduced more than a thousand of flight tests of EHang 184 at our internal test site in Guangzhou. Please watch the video at http://www.ehang.com/video/show/144.html .
DL: It appears that Dubai has chosen to work with Volocopter for unmanned passenger flights. Do you have any comment on that?
EH: As the world’s leading Autonomous Aerial Vehicle (“AAV”) manufacturer and Dubai RTA’s first partner, EHang has always advocated more and more peer companies to join hands with us to drive forward this grand career of 3D air transport together.
As early as February 2017, EHang 184 had already taken the lead to perform multiple adaptive flight tests respectively in the desert and sea shore environments in the flight sites designated by Dubai Civil Aviation Authority (“DCAA”).
During this process, as the forerunner spearheading Dubai’s grand vision of “Autonomous Air Taxi”, EHang laid a solid foundation, both theoretically and practically, for the plan and design of this project’s innovative concepts and operation modes, therefore gaining supports and appreciation from Dubai RTA and DCAA.
On this basis, we are very glad to see that our peer company Volocopter has become a second aerial vehicle manufacturer following EHang to conduct flight tests in Dubai.
Currently, EHang is closely working with the Civil Aviation Administration of China (CAAC) on the air worthiness certificate. We expect a Temporary Flying Test Certificate to be granted within 6 months.
So far, EHang 184 has been invited by many countries to do the test fly, including US FAA, Australia, France, Saudi Arabia, etc. Once received the temporary flying test certificate from CAAC, we will start to conduct public test fly in those countries.
In addition to the EHang 184, EHang will launch EHang 284, which can carry two passengers, within 6 months.
In addition, EHang has obtained the AS9100 certification, an authoritative quality management system standard adopted worldwide by the aerospace industry, which paves the way for EHang passenger drone to approach the airworthiness certification and flight approval in different places across the world in the future.