Passenger drone manufacturer EHang obtained the world’s first commercial license from the Chinese government to test a passenger-grade drone. Company officials say this makes the Chinese startup “the world’s first [autonomous aerial vehicle] company approved by a national aviation authority to carry out commercial pilot operation for the category of 330-pound-plus air logistics uses.”
China’s Civil Aviation Administration granted the approval based on protocols passed in February 2019. “With this approval, trial air logistics service using the EHang 216 would be carried out to transport cargo between ground and hilltop and between shore and islands at a customer site in Taizhou,” an EHang official said. “It is also intended to be gradually expanded to other sites in China as it accumulates operational data and experience.”
“I am pleased to see the fast development that EHang has achieved in China and globally, and that the flight test program of its passenger-grade AAVs were successfully verified by the CAAC to be granted with this approval,” CAAC Deputy Administrator Li Jian said. “It can be a safe and efficient solution to transport cargo.”
Earlier this month, EHang partnered with LN Holdings, a tourism platform and hotel development group, to create the world’s first passenger drone hotel. The partnership will provide future guests an opportunity to travel by EHang’s passenger drone for both transport and aerial tourism at the new hotel.
“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,” EHang CEO Hu Huazhi said:
“This approval is of great significance. 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. This will benefit the long-term development of the promising Urban Air Mobility applications.”
In April, the company successfully demonstrated the use of passenger drones for emergency response. Last year, EHang announced China’s first urban air mobility pilot city program this past week. UAM is a low-altitude aviation transportation network that shuttles passengers and goods in what EHang officials describe as a “safe, fast, environmentally friendly, cost-efficient and intelligent way.”
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