The Future of Advanced Air Mobility

Heli-Eastern Starts Trial Operations with EHang's EH216 eVTOL in China

Chinese business aircraft operator Shenzhen East General Aviation (Heli-Eastern) is partnering with eVTOL aircraft developer EHang to launch urban air mobility services. The companies will work on plans to operate helicopters and EHang’s EH216 two-seat Autonomous Aerial Vehicles (AAV) in airspace cleared for these operations under a pilot scheme developed by the Civil Aviation Administration of China (CAAC) and the Shenzhen municipal government.

Heli-Eastern provides flights for a variety of purposes throughout China’s heavily populated Guangdong-Hong Kong-Macao Greater Bay Area, and has approval for both commercial and private operations. With EHang, it has been conducting demonstration flights from its Shenzhen base with a pair of EH216s and a Bell 206 helicopter to demonstrate how the different aircraft types can safely operate in shared airspace.

According to EHang, the partnership with Heli-Eastern is part of its “100 Air Mobility Routes Initiative,” through which it is seeking to demonstrate the case for using eVTOL aircraft in a variety of applications including passenger flights, cargo deliveries, emergency medical support, and firefighting. The company, which has a manufacturing facility in nearby Yunfu, is trying to demonstrate the safety of scaled-up, low-altitude operations as it works to complete type certification for the EH216 with the CAAC.

The initiative has received official support as being part of a response to the State Council of China’s “Guidelines of the National Comprehensive Transportation Network Plan,” which was approved in February 2021. “We will jointly establish a pilot project for the urban integrated airspace of helicopters and AAVs and the low-altitude flight network in the Guangdong-Hong Kong-Macao Greater Bay Area,” said Heli-Eastern chairman Qi Zhao.