EHang has conducted maiden test flights in Japan with its two-seater 216 eVTOL, which is the first passenger-grade autonomous aircraft to be granted permission to fly in open airspace in the country.

The company obtained a trial flight permit from the Ministry of Land, Infrastructure, Transport and Tourism of Japan (MLIT) with a local partner. One of the trial flights was completed at the ‘Leading the Revolution of Urban Air Mobility’ event, which was organised together with the Okayama Kurashiki Mizushima Aero & Space Industry Cluster Study Group (MASC) at Kasaoka Air Station in Okayama Prefecture.

MLIT’s chief cabinet secretary Kato Katsunobu appointed his secretary Sugihara Yohei, to attend the event and delivered a speech on his behalf.

He said: “At present, many companies around the world have launched such flying car projects, and are conducting research and development and demonstration projects. As the government, we will actively improve aviation regulations while supporting private enterprises in a timely and appropriate manner.”

In 2018, the Japanese government established the ‘Public-Private Council for Air Transportation Revolution” and formulated a roadmap towards air transportation revolution. The council aims to start commercial services of transporting goods and people via flying vehicles by 2023, with gradual expansion from rural areas to urban areas.

According to the blueprint, the Civil Aviation Bureau of the MLIT is studying and improving related systems such as the type and airworthiness safety standards for flying cars and the certification of pilots.

Other guests included Ito Kaori, Mayor of Kurashiki City, Okayama Prefecture; Yoshifumi Kobayashi, Mayor of Kasaoka City, Okayama Prefecture; Inoue Mineichi, Head of the Kurashiki Chamber of Commerce and Industry, and Sugimoto Tetsuya, Head of Kasaoka Chamber of Commerce and Industry

Hashimoto Gaku, member of the Japan House of Representatives, added: “I am very pleased that Japan’s first trial flight of a flying car took place in the land of Okayama. We have high expectations for flying cars as a new generation for the growth industries. We look forward to developing flying cars as social services through public-private cooperation.”

In future, EHang and MASC will collaborate to further develop new air transportation use cases in Japan.

EHang released the first images of its other eVTOL in development, the VT-30, last week. It will travel up to 300km for more than 90 minutes, carrying two passengers at a time.