EHang Expects Chinese Certification of Autonomous Air Taxi by Mid-2022

Electric, vertical takeoff and landing (eVTOL) developer EHang said it’s planning to win type certification in China of its 216-S two-seat, autonomous air taxi by the middle of 2022.

EHang 216 eVTOL

EHang says its two-seat autonomous air taxi has a top speed of 130 km/h (70 knots), a payload capacity of 220 kg, and a range of 35 km (19 nm). [Courtesy EHang]

Electric, vertical takeoff and landing (eVTOL) developer EHang (NASDAQ: EH) said it’s planning to win type certification in China of its 216-S two-seat, autonomous air taxi by the middle of 2022. 

The China-based company wants to begin commercial passenger service shortly after certification. “We aim to be the first firm to launch commercial operational service in the world, probably in the second half of the year,” said Edward Xu, EHang’s chief strategy officer. 

The eVTOL aircraft boasts a top speed of 130 km/h (70 knots), a payload capacity of 220 kg, and a range of 35 km (19 nm), according to EHang’s website. 

Xu spoke Tuesday during an EHang earnings teleconference for investors. 

EHang’s 216-S autonomous air vehicle (AAV) has been undergoing test flights aimed at proving its product design and establishing a “real flight record,” Xu said. “We have built the world's first centralized AAV platform to manage multiple AAV operations with cluster management technologies. And so far, we have conducted over 20,000 autonomous trial flights in 11 countries.”

EHang executives also discussed the importance of the company’s new air taxi facility in Guangzhou, China, dubbed the 5G Intelligent Air Mobility Experience Center. 

The hub provides the country’s nascent eVTOL industry with a vertiport that includes a hangar for charging batteries and other required maintenance. 

Last year was an eventful one for EHang. In December, the country’s civil aviation regulatory agency, the General Administration of Civil Aviation of China (CAAC), published a special conditions document supporting type certification of the 216-S. The document provides a foundation for airworthiness certification for all AAVs in China.

Outside of China, EHang has been establishing industry partnerships with outfits such as Prestige Aviation in Indonesia, Aerotree Group in Malaysia and in Japan, with AirX and Okayama Kurashiki Mizushima Aero & Space Industry Cluster Study Group.

The Numbers

During the earnings call, EHang executives reported fourth-quarter revenues for 2021 of 8.7 million Chinese yuan renminbi (RMB) ($1.4 million) compared with 13 million RMB ($2 million) in the previous quarter. For the entire fiscal year of 2021, total revenues were 56.8 million RMB ($8.9 million), compared with 180.1 million RMB ($28.4 million) in 2020. 

The adjusted operating expenses were 246.6 million RMB ($38.8 million) in 2021, up 62.6 percent from 151.6 million RMB ($23.8 million) in 2020. 

“We continue to maintain significant R&D expenditures for the development of AAV models, including the EH216 series, VT-30, and the other new models along with their related operating systems with enhanced functionalities, as well as for the growing R&D team,” said  Richard Liu, EHang’s chief financial officer.

The VT-30 is EHang’s long-range, two-passenger AAV, designed for a range of 300 kilometers (162 nm). 

Looking ahead, EHang expects total revenues for fiscal year 2022 between 190 million RMB ($29.9 million) and 210 million RMB ($33.08 million), said chief operating officer Xin Fang. 

The lion’s share of revenue is expected in the second half of the year. “We expect our revenues in 2022 will mainly come from air mobility uses, including aerial sightseeing, aerial firefighting, and aerial logistics, as well as smart city management aerial,” Fang said.

Thom is a former senior editor for FLYING. Previously, his freelance reporting appeared in aviation industry magazines. Thom also spent three decades as a TV and digital journalist at CNN’s bureaus in Washington and Atlanta, eventually specializing in aviation. He has reported from air shows in Oshkosh, Farnborough and Paris. Follow Thom on Twitter @thompatterson.

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