EHang Holdings has announced the latest progress in implementing a trial UAM operation in Austria's third largest city of Linz, the first of its kind in Europe, under its pilot city partnership with Linz AG. At the recent UAM Virtual Conference held by the Aviation Week Network, the chief marketing officer of EHang Europe Andreas Perotti shared the company's use cases in varied scenarios and efforts to drive forward UAM implementation in Europe. EHang expects to soon start trial operations with an EHang 216 in Linz.
Urban population growth is causing traffic jams in major cities around the world. Protecting the air and eliminating CO2 emissions is giving rise to urban air mobility, a solution to transporting passengers or goods with autonomous aerial vehicles within or between cities.
In light of the disruptive potential of UAM, EHang established strategic partnerships in 2019 with FACC and Linz AG, local partners with rich experience in urban public transportation and charging infrastructure. The three parties agreed to join hands in building Linz into a UAM pilot city. They will conduct passenger flights and goods transportation with autonomous air taxis in urban areas.
Suitable eco-friendly electric motors and powerful batteries with short charging times already exist. So far, stable 5G infrastructure is available to ensure real time communication and precision for navigation during flight and landing. Next, a suitable testing route running over uninhabited areas to the vertiports will be determined within the city of Linz. While construction is planned for 2021, trial flights are planned in the near future.
EHang founder, chairman and CEO Huazhi Hu says: “We will implement the whole value chain that is necessary for UAM operations, as well as demonstrate passenger experience journeys as well. Booking systems, boarding processes and aftermarket service questions will play a role. In the course of the end-to-end process we will also be able to learn and improve our solutions on the go. We need to start thinking about implementation today, parallel to the ongoing regulatory processes as both will benefit from each other. Last but not least, we want to involve the people and let them touch, feel and experience UAM as far as possible today.”
In the course of the test flight, various aspects will be carefully studied including the practicality of implementation in urban areas, acceptance by the populace and the expected positive impact on the environment, and more. The project will be led by joint efforts from each partner bringing in their specific expertise. The public service aspect will also be considered, as UAM is not only about purchasing aircraft by private customers. Public benefits are paramount, with a focus on integration into an overall transportation plan.