EHang Holdings, an urban air mobility (UAM) technology platform company, announced that the company is progressing towards obtaining the production certificate (PC) and airworthiness certificate (AC) for the EH216-S, its self-developed passenger-carrying unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) system, with the full support from the Civil Aviation Administration of China (CAAC).
Under the guidance of the CAAC Central and Southern Regional Administration, EHang is steadily moving towards obtaining the PC and producing EH216-S according to its type certificate (TC).
Notably, documentation review and most of the definition and practical assessments are completed, with inspection and test at facility before production delivery underway. The initial batch of the EH216-S passenger-carrying UAVs following the TC is scheduled to roll off the production line with customer deliveries in the fourth quarter of 2023.
On Oct. 13, 2023, the CAAC formally granted the TC for the EH216-S passenger-carrying UAV system. This trailblazing certification process was grounded on principles of scientific integrity, exhaustive evaluation, and paramount safety and progressed within the structured framework of Chinese Civil Aviation Regulations Part 21 (CCAR-21).
By meticulously adhering to the demanding airworthiness certification standards established for manned aircraft, the whole process of the EH216-S TC adopted a holistic approach by engaging in multidimensional, multidisciplinary, comprehensive and systematic reviews and verifications, which also navigated through an array of complex and nuanced challenges, demonstrating precision, accuracy, and authoritative compliance.
The EH216-S TC is the world’s first of its kind for a passenger-carrying unmanned electric vertical takeoff and landing (eVTOL) aircraft, reflecting that the CAAC highly appreciates the innovative nature of the UAV system and has conducted rigorous and effective evaluations for its performance metrics. With that, EHang will progressively optimize its product performance across various metrics to achieve higher levels of public safety.
The type certificate data sheet (TCDS), released alongside the TC, is an integral document that accompanies the TCs for all aviation product categories. Operating under the progressive risk principle, the company prioritizes safe operations and accountability to the public to avoid unforeseen safety challenges in various situations once official commercial operations commence.
EHang, adhering to the conventional principles of imposing prudent restrictions first and lifting restriction by stages akin to procedures observed in the introduction of new aircraft (such as limitations on defining flight routes, scheduling, operational assurances for commercial operations of airliners, etc.), has agreed with the CAAC in regards to operational limitations for the initial phase.
EHang will gradually lift these operational limitations with the ultimate goal to realize comprehensive unmanned commercial operations across urban areas.
To ensure safety, EHang will closely monitor new routes during the first phase of commercial operations. Moreover, it will position extra observers in areas that are beyond the operators’ visual line of sight to satisfy requirements for beyond visual line-of-sight (BVLOS) operations.
EHang will accumulate more experience while ensuring safety in the first stage. Like conventional aircraft that take off and land on solid ground, the EH216-S passenger-carrying UAV will not operate over water.
However, according to specific needs of operational spots and route-setting requirements, there won’t be restrictions on water bodies like lakes, rivers, seaside and others when conducting aerial tourism and sightseeing experiences, as well as other low-altitude flights in certain urban areas.
Under CAAC’s guidance of “conducted trial operations while advancing certification,” the EH216-S passenger-carrying UAV has completed numerous test flights at high-altitude areas, proving its full capability in such scenarios.
Following the first phase of safe operations, EHang will further expand various operational scenarios and progressively introduce BVLOS flights and those at higher altitudes areas.
Huazhi Hu, founder, chairman, and CEO of EHang, said: “Safety is the lifeline of the aviation industry. Ensuring a rigorous and systematic approach to the research and development, production, operation, and management of aerial vehicles remains a core value for the CAAC, EHang, and all our collaborators. We will continue to innovate and maintain our leading advantages. In accordance with the CAAC’s safety standards and airworthiness requirements, we are committed to ensuring the safety of every passenger and cementing a solid foundation for commercial operations. Looking ahead, we will further advance UAV passenger-carrying flight operations and full-scale commercial deployments to achieve milestones in the development of the global low-altitude economy.”