EHang has confirmed it is working on a new long-range eVTOL aircraft – known as the VT series – which will sit alongside its flagship two-seater EH216 multicopter.
Translating for EHang founder, chairman and CEO Hu Huazhi at the company’s Q4 and Full Earnings Call last week, Chief Strategy Officer Edward Xu said trial flights of a passenger-grade model, called the VT30, will begin in northwest China ‘in the near future’.
This aircraft is a hybrid VTOL design configured with both pure electric multi-rotor and a fixed wing. It weighs 700kg and will be able to travel more than 300km (185 miles), supplementing intercity UAM networks. More details about the VT30’s specific shape, design and related technical parameters will be published soon.
Xu also spoke about the VT10 and VT20 which are two smaller, multi-purpose aircraft in the VT series. He said the VT20 is ‘a mature product’ and currently in small batch production, offering a flight time with payload of more than three hours and flight speed of between 30 and 100 km/h.
“It [VT20] is an indispensible product in the future UAM infrastructure planning process and can also be used for UAV applications in our Smart City command and control centers,” he added.
Xu also addressed that some media outlets previously reported EHang is working on a new product with a range of 400 metres, which he believes referred to the VT30. Pictures circulating at that time was actually of its transition product, the VT25, for its patent application.
Additionally, Xu also confirmed during the call that EHang will release a manual, piloted version of the 216. Called the 216M, it will have a similar control system as a traditional helicopter, but can be switched to autopilot mode with one click for all-round safety protection.
The 216M is expected to obtain a special airworthiness certificate in the experimental category from the Civil Aviation Administration of China (CAAC) in May 2021. In the future, EHang plans to work with partners to establish a flight experience park with a UAS fence.
In the past four years, EHang has completed more than 10,000 flights of its 216 eVTOL. While Xu couldn’t confirm exactly when the company would achieve certification, he said he hopes it can ‘achieve meaningful progress in 2021 towards the final stages’.
In terms of goals for year, EHang plans to produce 250 units of its EH216 model – which would be a record number for the company. It also plans to launch a ‘100 Air Mobility Routes’ initiative to support trial flights across China.
“By accumulating more operating data and experiences, we will be more prepared to launch large-scale commercialisation activities”, Wu added.
Meanwhile, EHang has also confirmed it has established a type certification team for its 216 model. The company officially submitted the type certificate application to CAAC in December 2020, which was accepted by CAAC in January 2021.
More details about EHang’s Q4 results can be found here.