EHang has obtained an operational flight permit from Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) Norway for long-term flight testing of its EHang 216 autonomous aerial vehicle (AAV), the company announced on March 5.
EHang said it plans to conduct test flights out of the Elvenes airport with a local customer, with the goal of eventually certifying the two-seat AAV. Although EHang has conducted extensive flight testing and demonstrations within China, this is the first such authorization the company has received in Europe — “laying a solid foundation for future urban air mobility operations (UAM) in other EU countries,” EHang said.
In an EHang press release, Bente Heggedal, CAA Norway’s head of section for unmanned aviation, described the development as “an exciting and forward-looking project that shows the rapid development of UAM and AAV technology. . . . We look forward to EHang demonstrating a well-proven and secure system, so that passenger AAVs can be a safe alternative for passenger transport.”
EHang indicated a particular interest in serving the offshore oil-and-gas industry in the North Sea, which today relies heavily on helicopters for transporting personnel, samples, and critical supplies.
The company said that its “networked and intelligent” autonomous eVTOL aircraft — operating around the clock and managed through a centralized command-and-control platform — have the potential to reduce labor costs and increase operational efficiency for oil-and-gas customers.
“In the new wave of the development of the oil industry in Norway, EHang expects to empower the [oil-and-gas] industry with our AAV technologies to reduce costs and increase efficiencies, and promote the use of green energy,” stated EHang founder, chairman, and CEO Hu Huazhi.
“In the past two years, we have established strategic partnerships with valuable European partners such as Vodafone, FACC, and the ProSiebenSat.1 Group. We expect to work with more strategic partners and help them with our safe, autonomous, and eco-friendly air mobility solutions,” he added.