Crewed eVTOL ride in Shenzhen the first step toward tapping aerial economy

Yantian has been selected as a pilot zone for "integrated flight," a term meaning the flight of different types of aircraft, including jet, chopper, flying car like eVTOL and drone.

A district of southern China’s tech hub Shenzhen conducted on January 6 the first crewed eVTOL flight as part of its efforts to build a pilot area for developing “low airspace economy.”

A passenger surnamed Wang flew aboard the EH216-S, an eVTOL aircraft developed by EHang (亿航), for an unspecified period of time in the air above Dameisha Seaside Park in the city, according to a press release issued by the local government.

The two-seat aircraft hovered in mid-air, with two helicopters flying in the vicinity.

The flight followed an agreement signed between Yantian’s industry and information technology authorities, which oversee the development of the aerial economy, and Houwei Huasheng (Shenzhen) International Technology Co., Ltd.

Houwei Huasheng is a firm that offers eVTOL rides to cash in on the emerging technology. Aerial tourism and sightseeing is one of the most obvious forms of monetization for eVTOL builders and those who lease the aircraft.

The two parties pledged to create application scenarios for “low airspace economy,” with eVTOL-driven aerial sightseeing at its core.

‘Sipping tea on flat floors’

“Sitting in the cabin, I felt as though I was sipping tea on flat floors, without spilling a drop of tea,” the passenger, Wang, told media. “The smoothness and comfort of the ride is quite pleasant. From take-off to landing, there was little noise.”

Wang added that if he shared the ride with a fellow passenger, they could converse with each other clearly.

The eVTOL flight in Yantian has far-reaching implications for Shenzhen’s drive to develop into an eVTOL powerhouse in China, Zhang Zhifeng, deputy head of Shenzhen Transportation Bureau, at the site of the flight.

Yantian has been selected as a pilot zone for “integrated flight,” a term meaning the flight of different types of aircraft, including jet, chopper, flying car like eVTOL and drone.

Shenzhen is at the forefront of a nationwide race to tap what is commonly known as “low airspace economy.”

Morgan Stanley predicted in a study that by 2040, the global urban air mobility market will be valued at over US$1 trillion.

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Ni Tao

Ni Tao is the founder and editor-in-chief of cnrobopedia. Prior to cnrobopedia, he had a full decade of experience with a major state-run English-language newspaper as a tech reporter and opinion writer. He is also a communications specialist, having provided consultancy services to established firms like Siemens, Philips, ABinBev, Diageo, Trip.com Group (Nasdaq: TCOM, HK: 9961), Jianpu Technology (NYSE: JT) and a handful of domestic startups. A graduate of Fudan University, he writes widely about China's business and tech scenes and other topics for global publications including South China Morning Post, SupChina, The Diplomat, CGTN, Banking Technology, among others, and tries to impart his experience to students at Fudan University Journalism School, where he is a part-time lecturer. When he's not writing about robotics, you can expect him to be on his beloved Yanagisawa saxophones, trying to play some jazz riffs, often in vain and occasionally against the protests of an angry neighbor. Get in touch with him by dropping a line at nitao0927@gmail.com.

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