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EHang has confirmed it will launch a new line of winged eVTOL aircraft called the VT series, as it simultaneously pursues certification of its EH216 multicopter and evolves its business to become an urban air mobility (UAM) platform operator.
The VT series will include a 700-kilogram (1,540-pound) “passenger-grade” model called the VT30, as well as smaller VT10 and VT20 versions not intended for passenger use. EHang indicated that the aircraft will have a “hybrid” lift-plus-cruise design, making it simpler than competing tiltrotor models.
Speaking during EHang’s fourth quarter and full year 2020 earnings call on April 16, EHang chief strategy officer Edward Xu, translating for CEO Huazhi Hu, said that the VT30 will have a range of more than 300 kilometers (185 miles), complementing the shorter range of its flagship EH216. The company plans to perform trial flights of the VT30 in the near future, and will share more details and technical specifications at a later date.
According to Hu, images shared online purporting to show a new EHang aircraft with a 400-km (250-mile) range actually depict a transition product, the VT25. Meanwhile, he said, the smaller VT20 is now a “mature product” that has entered small-batch production. Capable of speeds between 30 and 120 km/h (18 to 75 mph) and with an endurance of more than three hours, the VT20 will be used to survey flight routes for future fully autonomous VT30 flights, making it an “indispensable product in the future UAM infrastructure planning process.”
Meanwhile, the company continues to advance development of its EH216 autonomous aerial vehicle (AAV). EHang announced that the Civil Aviation Administration of China (CAAC) has established a type certification team for the EH216, with a kickoff meeting taking place in Guangzhou, China, on April 13-14. EHang said it officially submitted a type certificate application to the CAAC in December 2020, which was accepted by the agency in January 2021.
During the April 16 earnings call, Xu declined to speculate as to when the EH216 might achieve certification, but said the company hopes to share certain milestones in the certification process in the next six to 12 months. EHang will also be launching a manually piloted version of the AAV called the EH216M, which it expects to be granted a special airworthiness certificate in the experimental category from the CAAC in May of this year.