ABOVE: Having paused trading on the Nasdaq stock exchange yesterday, EHang received CAAC type certification for its eVTOL during a ceremony in Beijing

In a milestone achievement for the industry, EHang’s self-developed unmanned aerial vehicle has become the first eVTOL (electric vertical take-off and landing) craft to receive type certification.

In a ceremony held at the CAMIC International Convention Centre in Beijing on 13 October, the Civil Aviation Administration of China (CAAC) awarded type certification to Ehang’s EH216-S; the first passenger-carrying unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) worldwide to achieve this.

Founded in 2014 in Guangzhou, China, EHang’s mission is to ‘enable safe, autonomous and eco-friendly air mobility accessible to everyone’; aiming to provide low-cost, point-to-point transportation with its two-seat EH216-S craft. It is capable of a top speed of 80mph and an endurance of over 18 miles (based on a total payload of 220kg).

Since CAAC formally accepted EHang’s type certification application in January 2021, more than 500 specific test items have been investigated through extensive laboratory, ground, and over 40,000 test flights; the EHang team working closely with CAAC ‘and its expert team towards validating and verifying the aircraft’s innovative cutting-edge technologies’. The specification to which this first-of-a-kind aircraft was published (‘Special Conditions for the EH216-S UAV System’) was published in February 2022, drawing on CAAC’s consultation with various leading industry experts.

“Our self-developed EH216-S passenger-carrying UAV system has finally met high expectation to secure the first TC in the global eVTOL industry, marking a significant chapter in civil aviation history,” noted Mr. Huazhi Hu, Founder, Chairman and CEO of Ehang; adding that type certification will now “enable [the company] to steadily progress towards [their] strategic goal to be a UAM platform operator, and commit to [their] mission to enable safe, autonomous, and eco-friendly air mobility accessible to everyone”.

The only eVTOL to enter series production before achieving type certification, more than 200 of over 1,200 pre-orders have already been assembled at EHang’s Yunfu facility, which opened in 2021. Production, which is estimated to build in the region of 600 units a year, will also be scaled up as required.