EHang Cites Progress Toward Autonomous eVTOL Certification

Credit: EHang

With the world’s advanced air mobility (AAM) industry watching EHang’s progress toward the first type certification of an autonomous air taxi, the Chinese startup has reported that the project specific certification plan for its two-seat EH216-S has been approved by the Civil Aviation Administration of China (CAAC).

A project specific certification plan (PSCP) defines the product to be certified and what is needed to meet the certification requirements. It establishes the requirements for successfully completing a project, including compliance requirements, schedule, persons involved and project deliverables.

The CAAC issued the special conditions for type certification of the two-seat EH216-S in February, setting the compliance basis and safety standards for the multicopter electric vertical takeoff and landing (eVTOL) aircraft.

EHang had hoped to achieve type certification in 2022, but the COVID-19 pandemic lockdowns delayed meetings with the CAAC, making approval this year less certain.

According to EHang, the CAAC has confirmed the areas that will undergo more in-depth review. These include flight performance, structural strength, ground control station, airborne human-computer interaction and continued airworthiness. “Activities for demonstration and validation of compliance are being prepared,” the startup said.

With more than 30,000 flights of the EH216 already logged, EHang said it plans to conduct further ground and flight tests for compliance starting in October.

Most industry experts think it will be the end of this decade, at the earliest, before European or U.S. regulators are prepared to certify a passenger-carrying autonomous aircraft. But EHang has been working with the CAAC for several years and has approval from the Chinese regulator to conduct trial flights.

First commercial use of the EH216-S is expected to be on short preprogrammed sightseeing flights over unpopulated tourist attractions in China where operations can be tightly constrained to mitigate any risks.


Graham Warwick

Graham leads Aviation Week's coverage of technology, focusing on engineering and technology across the aerospace industry, with a special focus on identifying technologies of strategic importance to aviation, aerospace and defense.