New UAM Agreements Strengthen EHang’s AAV Position in Japan


Leading autonomous aerial vehicle (AAV) maker EHang has stepped up its business development in Japan with two notable deals, including securing the first order for its VT-30 long-range craft and deepening its work to prepare for the countries with imminent urban air mobility (UAM).

EHang said he made the deals just before Christmas, which helped expand the Chinese company’s role as a central player in Japan’s burgeoning UAM industry. EHang has successfully carried out demonstration flights of its AAV EH216 vehicle in Japan as a preview of the type of air taxi services that the Japanese authorities wish to launch in 2023. Indeed, one of the consequences of the latest agreements has been that ‘EHang has expanded its role in reviewing and preparing for both of these and other types of AAV uses.

The latter activity is linked to EHang obtaining its very first order for the VT-30, whose range of 300 km opens up a completely different type of UAM activity than the short-jump EH216, which has a maximum distance of 35 km.

Unlike the EH216 wingless electric take-off and landing vehicle, the VT-30 features an emission-free hybrid engine system to enable longer flights and an aerodynamically improved fixed-wing configuration with which it can take off vertically or do it in charging mode.

The VT-30 AAV is designed to serve longer trips between cities or urban clusters carrying a pair of passengers. The two-seater EH216 will be used for air taxi operations in the city center, but will undoubtedly be the primary production target – at least until other forms of UAM travel develop.

EHang and its Austrian partner FACC in the manufacture of the EH216 plan to produce 3,000 devices for the air taxi service by 2025. The vehicle is already in use in preparations for extensive AAV tests in special flight lanes in China.

The new agreements with Japan call on EHang to work with local partners such as the Okayama Kurashiki Mizushima Aerospace Industry Study Group (MASC) study group to study operational scenarios using of AAVs EH216 and VT-30. As part of this, EHang will help flesh out UAM operations in Japan, ranging from air taxis to longer-distance passenger and freight transport, but also other types of miscellaneous public services to more distant destinations that do not benefit as much. air transport. as central and densely populated areas.

“It has always been expected that AAVs would be used in scenarios of travel to outer islands and sparsely populated areas, rescue and material support in disasters,” said Narisawa Koichi, advisor to the office of civil aviation of the Japanese Ministry of Land, Infrastructure, Transport and Tourism (MLIT). “Recently, with the cooperation and support of MASC, EHang’s two-seater AAV EH216 performed demonstration flights successively in Fukushima and Okayama, Japan, after its in-flight debut in June of this year. This further explored the application and practice of AAV solutions in use cases such as cross-island travel, emergency relief, and air logistics.

As part of the deal, MLIT will prepare and re-issue new test guidelines to support UAM demonstration flights by AAV companies like EHang, as it did earlier this year to facilitate exits from successful EH216 test.

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