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Autonomous flying in Europe lifted by EHang and FACC
The EHang 216 has already completed several thousand manned flight hours in China. Having received approval from the Austrian CAA, it underwent its first European flight in November, succeeding despite poor weather.
As part of a strategic partnership, FACC and EHang are contributing their respective resources and networks to the EHang 216.
Read this story in our January 2021 printed issue.

EHang Holdings has achieved a milestone on the path to offering UAM services worldwide. On 9 December, the civil aviation authority of Austria issued a trial flight permit for the EH216 passenger-grade AAV. The permit allows trial operation of full unmanned flights in Austrian national airspace. This is the first flight permit for EHang's passenger-grade AAVs within the European Union.

Through the joint efforts of the civil aviation authority of Austria, the EHang European team and local partners, the company has achieved an important regulatory breakthrough in the geographical heart of Europe, enabling more people to experience its UAM solutions. This achievement should enable EHang to accelerate commercial operations in the region. The trial permit and flight operations will support EHang's growth in the European market by demonstrating the benefits of its UAM solutions to regulators, customers and partners.

As part of the process, a test flight occurred in November 2020. It was the first flight ever in open EASA airspace. After a Specific Operational Risk Assessment (SORA) procedure, an EH216 AAV with the registration number OE-VFA took off in St. Martin im Innkreis in the province of Upper Austria. Under the supervision of the civil aviation authority , the unmanned aircraft took off for several minutes via automatic flight programming and then safely landed, despite harsh weather conditions.

The permit was obtained together with EHang's strategic partner FACC, enabling FACC to advance further important flight test programmes in cooperation with other companies in the industry, research institutions and authorities. Technical experts from both companies worked for several months with the national regulators to meet the national and European requirements.

“The successful completion of the test flight of our autonomous aerial vehicle in Austrian airspace marks the start of a comprehensive test programme of the EHang 216, laying the foundation for the approval of an innovative, highly flexible and sustainable traffic and transport solution for urban agglomerations,” states FACC CEO Robert Machtlinger. “I am very proud of the entire team and would like to congratulate them on this groundbreaking milestone.”

As part of the strategic partnership, FACC and EHang are contributing their respective resources and networks. EHang serves as an inventor and expert for all questions relating to autonomous flying and provides extensive know-how in the areas of connectivity and software solutions. FACC offers support in the field of high-tech hardware with the development, certification and manufacture of lightweight components and systems.

“The field of application is complex and ranges from search and rescue services to supply flights for materials in hard-to-reach areas, ambulance flights and taxi flights in mega-cities. FACC and its strong network of innovative partner companies, public authorities and universities, as well as the state of Austria, are pioneers in this field,” Machtlinger continues.

The EHang 216 has already completed several thousand manned flight hours in China. In May, it received the world's first commercial operation approval for logistic purposes from the Civil Aviation Administration of China (CAAC). With the successful maiden flight of the EHang 216 in Austria, FACC and EHang have taken an important joint step towards establishing autonomous flying in Europe.

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