EHang, one of the world’s leading companies promoting swiftly approaching air taxi activities, has flown a test flight of its 216 electric takeoff and landing (eVTOL) aircraft in Bali during a simulated sightseeing excursion.
The company produced a video of the 216 eVTOL making a five-minute autonomous flight from Bali’s scenic Villa Blackstone Beach over both land and sea areas. Indonesia’s first demonstration of an advanced aerial vehicle (AAV) was sponsored by the aviation affiliate of the local Prestige Corp., which is thought to be considering EHang and other manufacturer’s vehicles for use as rapid air taxi services and longer, more leisurely sightseeing trips.
In its communiqué on the unprecedented test flight of an eVTOL vehicle in the country, EHang noted it followed the issuing of a special certificate of air worthiness by the Directorate General of Civil Aviation of the Republic of Indonesia. From that wording, it would appear the craft still needs to pass full certification for marketing and operation in the country in the future, despite its successful autonomous sightseeing jaunt.
EHang’s eVTOL test in Bali comes amid a flurry of activity by sector companies vying for what is expected to be big business across Asia once air taxi and other AAV services are approved and introduced.
EHang conducted its first flights in South Korea nearly a year ago, and just this month saw German rival Volocopter replicate those with demonstration runs at both Seoul airports. Those come amid increasing efforts by South Korean officials to accelerate preparations for looming air taxi services, which they hope may alleviate the country’s serious road traffic congestion.
Both Volocopter and EHang have similarly been busy with AAV trials and discussions with authorities in European countries. Those include France – which plans to introduce air taxi service for the 2024 Paris Summer Olympics – and Spain, where authorities are also considering the use of next-generation eVTOL craft for police and other official operations.
As elsewhere in Asia, Indonesia is looking to various kinds of AAV alternatives to alleviate clogged roads to improve lives for locals, and further stimulate the nation’s booming international and domestic tourism trade.
“Prestige Aviation aspires to be the pioneer to provide smart city innovations with digital-based transport implementation,” said Prestige Corp executive chairman Rudy Salim. “As an AAV, EHang 216 can become an effective, affordable mobility and efficient solution for Indonesian air mobility.”
For their part, EHang officials described the Bali eVTOL demonstration as a positive step for the group’s activity in Indonesia, and across the region as well.
“The successful flight demo fully showcased EHang 216’s potential for efficient island hopping and air transportation,” said Hu Huazhi, EHang founder and CEO. ”We are pleased to join hands with Indonesian local partners to bring our leading AAVs and UAM solutions to Indonesia, one of the most promising UAM markets in Southeast Asia. Our global network of renowned and reliable partners continues to expand, and we believe this is a significant step for our sustainable, consistent success.”