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Chinese company launches pilotless flights in UAE

By Qiu Quanlin| Source: chinadaily.com.cn | Updated : 2024-05-13


Chinese urban air mobility company EHang demonstrated a pilotless electric vertical takeoff and landing aircraft with passengers in Abu Dhabi on Monday. The aircraft is designated as the EH216-S. [Photo provided to chinadaily.com.cn]

EHang Holdings Limited, one the world's leading urban air mobility technology companies, will help foster collaboration and communication between the civil aviation authorities of China and the United Arab Emirates to expedite commercial flights of pilotless aircraft in the Middle East, a senior company executive said.

"After securing approval for demo flights with passengers and conducting the first flight, we are poised to continue leading the change of urban air mobility in the UAE and beyond," said Hu Huazhi, the founder, chairman and CEO of EHang.

Hu made the remarks after the company's pilotless electric vertical take-off and landing aircraft EH216-S completed its first demo flight with passengers in Abu Dhabi on Monday. It was the first flight of its kind in the Middle East.

Another autonomous aircraft, the EH216-F — designed for high-rise firefighting — and the EH216-L aerial logistics aircraft, made their debut flights in the UAE, showcasing a diverse range of urban air mobility use scenarios for pilotless eVTOL aircraft.

The EH216 series was seen as a transformative solution in addressing urban mobility challenges, such as emissions and congestion, the company said.

The pilotless aircraft feature a compact fuselage, high redundancy and intelligent cluster management, enabling safety and efficiency as well as scalable operations, it said, in order to provide safe, autonomous, and eco-friendly operations.

"In close coordination with partners and government entities in the UAE, we are actively engaged in the design and establishment of eVTOL vertiports, in preparation for the launch of commercial routes," Hu said.

EHang expanded into the UAE market by joining the Smart and Autonomous Vehicle Industries Cluster and establishing a strategic partnership with Wings Logistics Hub in December. It further established strategic collaboration with the Abu Dhabi Investment Office and its local strategic partner Multi Level Group in April 2024 to drive eVTOL development in the UAE.

"The seamless integration of technology and aviation represents a significant leap forward for our nation," said Mohamed Al Dhaheri, a board member of MLG, after taking a ride on the EH216-S.

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