On January 20, Caibao Wang (Financial Network) posted an article titled “The development of autonomous aviation has entered the fast lane. The Civil Aviation Administration of China supports EHang and other enterprises to take the lead in demonstration.”
The new low-altitude aircraft represented by unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) is a star product that has attracted global attention in recent years. On the one hand, the convenient and efficient new low-altitude aircraft can empower and upgrade air traffic, on the other hand, it also brings new problems to aviation supervision. In recent years, aviation regulatory agencies in various countries are exploring the airworthiness certification and management regulations of new low-altitude aircraft, aiming to standardize and guide the innovation and development of the low-altitude UAV industry.
In August 2022, the Civil Aviation Administration of China released the “Civil Unmanned Aviation Development Roadmap V1.0”, proposing a timetable for the exploration and application of short-, medium-, and long-distance manned autonomous aircraft in 2025, 2030, and 2035, respectively. The release of this roadmap has also played a certain role in boosting the development of the “low-altitude economy” that has been in a period of explosive growth in recent years. As various new aviation R & D and production enterprises continue to submit and carry out the airworthiness certification of new models, the electric aviation industry is ushering in a qualitative leap.
As the first enterprise in the industry to enter the field of electric vertical take-off and landing aircraft (eVTOL), Guangzhou EHang has become the first pilot unit of manned autonomous aircraft in China with its leading technology research and development and a large amount of safe flight data, assisting the Civil Aviation Administration of China in carrying out operational risk analysis, formulation and verification of airworthiness standards for manned autonomous aircraft. Since April 2021, the Civil Aviation Administration of China established a review working group for the EHang EH216 manned autonomous aircraft type certificate (TC) project. This may represent China’s acquisition of the world’s first manned autonomous aircraft airworthiness certificate, which has attracted the attention of global civil aviation regulators and the industry.
Recently, EHang released an article reporting that on January 16, EHang was visited by the inspection and research working group led by Luo Yiming, deputy director of the Airworthiness Department of the Civil Aviation Administration of China, along with Cui Yuliang, deputy director of the General Division of the Airworthiness Certification Department of the Civil Aviation Administration of China,
Lin Heyong, Chief of the Airworthiness Certification Division of the Central South Regional Administration of Civil Aviation of China,
Wang Min, head of Guangzhou Aircraft Certification Sub-center of China Civil Aviation Airworthiness Certification Center,
Zhang Qingchun, director of the Institute of Civil Aviation Regulations and Standardization of the China Academy of Civil Aviation Science and Technology, and others.
Although the EHang article did not disclose the details of the discussion, it can be seen from the high-standard staffing of the working group and the in-depth field inspection and research that it is the full affirmation of the EH216-S model certification work by the Civil Aviation Administration of China.
As the leader of domestic manned autonomous aircraft, the EHang EH216-S type certification work is also called by the media as a typical case of China’s civil aviation innovation and development. The Central South Bureau of Civil Aviation stated at the 2023 Central South Civil Aviation Work Conference held recently that Central South Civil Aviation will continue to fully promote the EH216-S autonomous aircraft type certification project work, and vigorously explore the pilot work of autonomous aerial vehicle urban mobility (UAM).
“Relevant national agencies, airworthiness certification authorities, and the aviation industry have paid great attention to, guided, and promoted the certification process of EHang EH216-S, which has significantly improved the breadth, depth, and speed of the certification.” A relevant person in charge of EHang said,
“Since the launch of the first manned autonomous aircraft in 2016, it has undergone tens of thousands of various performance tests and safety tests, and has accumulated a large number of self-developed scientific and technological achievements. It can provide solid theoretical and practical materials for the formulation of industry policies and regulations. As a volunteer in the industry, EHang will contribute to the continuous formulation and improvement of relevant regulations and standards for manned autonomous aircraft by the Civil Aviation Administration of China.”
It is understood that the Civil Aviation Administration of China issued the “Special Conditions for EH216-S Unmanned Aircraft Systems” in February 2022 to provide a basis for the compliance and safety of EHang EH216-S unmanned aircraft systems. At the ICAO General Assembly held in October 2022, the Civil Aviation Administration of China also shared the advanced experience with the world around this “Special Conditions”.
The national “14th Five-Year Plan” outline proposes to speed up the construction of a transportation power, build a modern comprehensive transportation system, promote the integrated development of various transportation modes, improve network effects and operational efficiency, and actively develop general aviation. As an innovative industry in the field of general aviation, the low-altitude UAV industry has strong development potential.
Recently, the Ministry of Commerce issued the “Guangzhou Service Industry Expansion and Opening-up Comprehensive Pilot Overall Plan”, which clarifies that in Huangpu District of Guangzhou City (Guangzhou Development Zone, Guangzhou High-tech Zone, Sino-Singapore Guangzhou Knowledge City), the plan will strengthen multi-point support and multi-pole drive, create a new highland for knowledge creation, support the combination of the construction of the Shenzhen UAV Experimental Zone and the pilot of UAV logistics operations in the Greater Bay Area, and carry out the test flight and networking pilot of intelligent autonomous low-altitude aircraft.
EHang, headquartered in Guangzhou, believes that with the joint efforts of local government departments and aviation regulatory authorities, it is no longer a distant dream for autonomous aircraft travel to become a popular way of life in the future.