Chinese autonomous aerial vehicle (AAV) company EHang announced its flagship passenger-grade AAV EHang 216 and Falcon logistics model have completed Beyond Visual Line of Sight (BVLOS) trial flights for airport transport and parcel delivery in Estonia under the European Union’s GOF 2.0 Integrated Urban Airspace Validation (GOF 2.0) project to demonstrate safe, autonomous and eco-friendly urban air mobility (UAM) and the integration of unmanned aerial vehicles and air taxis into manned operations with air traffic management (“ATM”) and U-space services. The Estonian Transport Administration issued a special permit to EHang for trial flights in designated Estonian airspace until the end of 2021.
The EHang 216 is the first passenger-grade AAV to have conducted BVLOS trial flights in Estonian airspace. During the trials, the EHang 216 performed a flight mission of passenger VIP transport scenario from the Tartu Airport to the Estonian Aviation Museum, no passenger onboard, to demonstrate the uses cases and scenarios of eVTOL (electric vertical take-off and landing) intra-urban and peri-urban flights. The EHang Falcon logistics model completed a flight mission of parcel delivery from the Tartu Airport to a cargo terminal at the Estonian Aviation Museum, to demonstrate the uses cases and scenarios of automated parcel delivery drones operating at low level. These trial flights are among the first wave of trials in the two-year GOF 2.0 project, with the focus of entry to and exit from defined airspaces. The trials demonstrate how manned and unmanned aviation can enter and leave various types of airspace, such as controlled/uncontrolled airspace and U-space airspace.
To date, EHang has conducted multiple trial and demo flights of its passenger-grade AAVs in 10 countries across Asia, Europe, and North America. EHang will continue further involvements in GOF 2.0 and plan to conduct more trial flights in Europe to demonstrate the validity, safety, security and sustainability of unmanned aerial systems and manned operations in a unified, dense urban airspace using existing ATM and U-space services and systems. It is an important enabler for the further development of the unmanned aerial vehicle market and will deliver the technical components (services, software, competencies, practices) required to cost-efficiently operate autonomous and semi-autonomous aerial vehicles BVLOS in urban low-level shared airspace.