EHang Holdings Limited is launching autonomous urban air mobility (UAM) services with its strategic partner Greenland Hong Kong Holdings Limited, an HKEX-listed real estate company. The trial services include an aerial sightseeing programme and aerial media shows, which will be rolled out in the partner's tourism real estate project, Forest Lake located in Zhaoqing, a tour destination city in Guangdong, China. The company intends to work jointly with Greenland Hong Kong over time to offer aerial tourism services using its EH216 AAVs in more cities.
The collaboration will initially start with a flight base in Forest Lake, independently operated by EHang, to offer aerial sightseeing services to passengers. Forest Lake is located close to the new Zhaoqing-Pearl River Delta-Hub airport, which is under construction. The area offers abundant tourism attractions, including seven natural lakes and wetlands covering three million square metres. Going forward, the two parties will work together to commercialise EHang AAV technologies in various use cases including aerial sightseeing.
As a specific use case of UAM, aerial sightseeing has strong demand and huge market potential. In early 2017, the Chinese Ministry of Transport, the Ministry of Culture and Tourism and the Civil Aviation Administration jointly issued ‘Suggestions on Promoting the Integrated Development of Transportation and Tourism’. This directive supported the development of aerial sightseeing by encouraging key tourist cities and eligible scenic spots to carry out pilot programmes for civil aviation tourism as well as to open low-altitude flight routes. Low-altitude tourism in China could reach 4.2 billion passengers in recent years, leading to a market size of RMB58.5 billion, according to forecasts from the China Air Transport Association.
“Our philosophy for Forest Lake is focused on enriching residents' lives by offering better cultural and tourism support. We can help to achieve this goal through our strategic partnership with EHang, which is based on extensive research and mutual interests. We intend to work together to utilise our complementary advantages to achieve win-win cooperation,” says Sun Qi, general manager of Forest Lake.
Edward Xu, chief strategy officer of EHang adds: “We are excited to partner with Greenland Hong Kong to launch trial operations of the EH216 and bring our safe, green and comfortable UAM services to local residents. As an AAV technology platform company and a UAM operator, we are steadily rolling out global trial operations and will further work with our partners to build more UAM networks.”
The company sees various advantages of its EH216 AAVs to conventional single-propeller helicopters, such as higher safety levels lower noise levels, lower costs and zero emissions. Powered by fossil fuel, helicopters discharge significant amounts of green-house gases and have high failure risks. Yet they are more expensive to operate with pilots. Given the key advantages, EHang believes its EH216 AAVs have the potential to become a new travel vehicle for low-altitude aerial sightseeing.