The Chinese manufacturer Ehang has received an operating license for its electric two-seater passenger drone Ehang 216 (eVTOL) from Norway. According to Ehang, this is the first operational permit for test flights with the model in Europe.
In addition, Ehang has signed a cooperation agreement with the Spanish city of Seville to carry out a pilot project for urban air mobility, including passenger transport.
The first launch is in Norway however, where the CAA Norway issued an operational flight permit for EHang 216 to conduct flights together with a local customer for testing and certification. The authority believes the country’s geographic conditions, meaning an abundance of sparsely populated areas, suit the testing of uncrewed aircraft well. For the test flight of EHang 216, CAA Norway designated Elvenes airport, close to the Russian border.
Specifically, Ehang will use the project to collect real-time data on the model’s flight behaviour. The 216 is a two-seater with 16 electric motors and propellers, an empty mass of 360 kg and a payload of 260 kg. The claimed range is 35 km and the top speed 130 kph.
While you may expect to list Norway’s commitment to green transport as another argument, EHang in its press release stresses the connection to the country’s oil and gas sector that uses helicopters to fly staff out to the drilling platforms but also new wind farms. Says Hu Huazhi, Founder, Chairman and CEO of EHang: “In the new wave of the development of the oil industry in Norway, EHang expects to empower the O&G industry with our AAV technologies to reduce costs and increase efficiencies, and promote the use of green energy.”
That being said, the executives also mentioned wanting to work with “more strategic partners”. One other cooperation comes from the Spanish city of Seville.
For now, the agreement specifies that EHang will work with the Seville government “to develop the urban air mobility including passenger transportation, air logistics and command and control platforms in the city”. Permissions to conduct test flights are being worked on per Spanish and European legislation. Seville Mayor Juan Espadas Cejas commented: “We look forward to EHang’s first flight in Seville and hope our cooperation will facilitate the commercialization of its UAM ecosystem in Europe.”
The Chinese company with headquarters in Guangzhou has been listed on Nasdaq since 2019 and has been actively promoting its eVTOL system globally. Recently, it received its first special flight authorization from the US Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) and conducted its first-ever trial flight of EHang 216 in the US.
In the past two years, Ehang states it has established strategic cooperations with several European partners, including Vodafone, FACC and the ProSiebenSat.1 Group. Also, DHL is working with EHang in China and recently launched a trial for automated drone deliveries for China’s metropolitan areas.