The world’s first passenger drone made by the Chinese company EHang will soon begin testing in Quebec, Canada. The concept of the EHang drones was first unveiled in 2016 and since then the company has been testing the pilotless drone taxi around the world. The EHang 216 passenger drone has received a Special Flight Operations Certificate (SFOC) issued by the Transport Canada Civil Aviation (TCCA). This is the first time EHang has received a limited period operational permit for its passenger drones.
The flagship passenger drone: EHang 216
EHang 216 is one of a kind pilotless drone designed for the purpose of commuting. The 216 is a two-seater drone that can carry a payload of up to 220 kg. The Autonomous Aerial Vehicle (AAV) can transport people or cargo in the range of 35 km. In China, EHang has not been authorized for commercial drone taxi operations. However, it was given the authorization to transport cargo in remote villages and hills in China. The 216 has also made its way to the US, Norway, and Spain. In September 2019, EHang showcased the 216 drone at the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO)’s 75th Anniversary ceremony in Quebec.
EHang Founder, Chairman, and CEO, Huazhi Hu said, “We are pleased to see EHang 216 receiving such an important certificate from TCCA, following consecutive flight approvals received from aviation authorities in different countries, including the U.S. Federal Aviation Administration, the Civil Aviation Authority of Norway and the Civil Aviation Administration of China. It conveys a positive signal from global regulators to establish a supportive and sustainable regulatory environment for the UAM industry. As a leader in the industry, EHang will continue to work with our customers and partners to provide safe, autonomous, and eco-friendly air mobility solutions to the world.”
The future of urban air mobility
The authorization of EHang 216 drone marks a revolutionary point in urban air mobility. Drones have always been looked at as remotely controlled photographic tools. However, with AAVs such as the 216, that paradigm is rapidly changing. Commutation through the passenger drone will work like calling an Uber. Through an app, a traveler can book the drone and board it through the nearest droneport and then commute to any destination within 35 km of range.
Through successful rapid testing in varied geographical conditions, EHang may soon receive a commercial license to commence its drone taxi operations. The company has already demonstrated the drone’s safety and efficiency in civilian airspace. Therefore, in a span of 5 years, with the advancement in UTM technology, drone taxis will become the new normal.