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Chinese air taxi maker EHang completes maiden flight in Abu Dhabi as it eyes expansion in the Middle East

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Chinese flying taxi maker EHang completed the first autonomous passenger-carrying flight in the Middle East, the company said on Monday, as it moves to expand in the region.

The EH216-S, EHang’s flagship pilotless electric vertical take-off and landing vehicle (eVTOL), took off in Abu Dhabi, according to the company, which is trying to capitalise on a burgeoning “low-altitude” economy, a range of industries related to aerial vehicles operating below an altitude of 1,000 metres.

EHang has plans to launch commercial flights with its pilotless aircraft in the United Arab Emirates (UAE) and other parts of the Middle East, said founder and CEO Hu Huazhi.

“We will actively foster collaboration and communications between the General Civil Aviation Authority [of the UAE] and the Civil Aviation Administration of China (CAAC) to expedite the progress,” Hu was quoted as saying in the statement.

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Chinese firm obtains country’s first passenger-drone production certificate

Chinese firm obtains country’s first passenger-drone production certificate

Based in Guangzhou, capital of southern Guangdong province, EHang is stepping up efforts to enhance its presence in the Middle East market.

The firm made a foray into the region late last year through a strategic partnership with Wings Logistics Hub, a logistics technology unit under Ethmar International Holding (EIH), an Abu Dhabi-based investment vehicle with ties to the UAE’s ruling family.

Under the collaboration, EHang will deliver up to 100 of its EH216 series eVTOL vehicles, including the EH216-S, EH216-L, and EH216-F, designed for passenger transport, aerial logistics, and firefighting in high-rise buildings.

Last month, EHang also struck an agreement with the Abu Dhabi Investment Office and Multi Level Group, a financial technology subsidiary of EIH, as the Chinese company looks to set up a regional headquarters in the UAE capital to expand its businesses ranging from manufacturing and flight operations to research and development.

In China, EHang’s self-developed EH216-S is the first recipient of a Type Certificate, Production Certificate and Standard Airworthiness Certificate for pilotless eVTOL, issued by the CAAC. The accreditation cleared the regulatory hurdle for EHang to operate automated commercial flights in its home country.
Priced at 2.39 million yuan (around US$330,000) in mainland China and US$410,000 elsewhere, the EH216-S was first announced in February 2018 and has reportedly completed over 42,000 successful test flights in more than 14 countries.

Shares of Nasdaq-listed EHang were up more than 1 per cent in pre-market trading on Tuesday, after closing more than 7.5 per cent higher on Monday.

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