EHang targeting eVTOL certification in China ‘in the next few months,’ executives say

Avatar for Jen NevansBy Jen Nevans | December 3, 2021

Estimated reading time 5 minutes, 27 seconds.

Chinese eVTOL developer EHang said the company is on track to obtain type certification approval for its EH216 with the Civil Aviation Administration of China (CAAC) “in the next few months.”

Accelerating certification and building out its UAM ecosystem are some of the key goals that EHang is focused on, according to company executives during a recent Q3 earnings call. EHang Image

EHang executives said the company has been working with the CAAC to formulate standards for the EH216 type certification, and is currently working through its means of compliance.

“After multiple rounds of discussion with CAAC expert team, our certification work has entered into the final stages of verification,” said Edward Xu, chief strategy officer at EHang, during the company’s third quarter earnings call yesterday.

The CAAC is now publicly soliciting comments on the draft special conditions for the EH216 type certification, with responses due back to the CAAC by Dec. 20.

EHang said earlier this year that the CAAC accepted its type certificate application for the EH216 in January 2021. If the aircraft is in fact certified in the next few months, the speed of approval will stand in striking contrast to Western aircraft certification programs, which typically take multiple years. The soonest the U.S. Federal Aviation Administration expects to certify an eVTOL aircraft is in 2023.

It’s still unclear whether or how the two-seat eVTOL aircraft will be certified with Western aviation authorities. EHang is, however, working closely with United Therapeutics to address the certifiability of its aircraft, and participating in various other pilot projects in Europe and elsewhere.

In addition to accelerating the certification process, the company is also committed to its efforts to expand its urban air mobility (UAM) ecosystem so the company can be ready to turn its trial flights into commercial ones once EHang receives its type certification.

Through its 100 Air Mobility Routes initiative, EHang has so far established seven operational sites with strategic partners in Guangzhou, Hezhou, Shenzhen, Zhaoqing, and Sanya for aerial sightseeing and short-distance air mobility.

Xu said the company is focused on developing more strategic partnerships to expand its operational sites. This includes the recent partnership with helicopter service provider Shenzhen East General Aviation, aka Heli-Eastern, in September to implement UAM operations in China’s Guangdong-Hong Kong-Macao Greater Bay Area.  

As of the end of November, the company claims to have achieved more than 20,000 autonomous trial flights of the EH216 in 11 countries, as well as 2,800 operational trial flights through the 100 Air Mobility Routes initiative. 

In remarks translated by Xu, EHang founder, chair, and CEO Huazhi Hu said the company will continue to use those flight tests to optimize the aircraft, conduct more stress tests on all hardware and software systems, and increase fusion control tests for multiple flight control systems.

EHang closed the third quarter of 2021 with RMB13 million (US$2 million) in total revenues. Its gross profit was RMB8 million (US$1.2 million), and its total operating expenses reached RMB86.3 million (US$13.4 million). EHang reported a net loss of RMB72.3 million (US$11.2 million), and the company’s cash and marketable securities at the end of the third quarter totaled RMB357 million (US$55.4 million).

EHang adjusted its annual revenue forecast for 2021 to be between RMB50 million and RMB60 million, a decision that was made in part because of the company’s transition from being solely a manufacturer to an operator of its aircraft as well. EHang reportedly sold eight units of the EH216 in the third quarter.

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