China’s first commercial eVTOL flight is expected to take place in October this year in southern China’s Guangdong Province, Chinese media reported.
Shanghai AutoFlight (峰飞航空科技), an eVTOL startup, announced at a high-profile conference in Shenzhen yesterday that it will livestream a crewed flight of its air taxi from a Ferris wheel in Shenzhen to the Zhuhai Opera House in nearby Zhuhai.
The journey will last 15 minutes for a single trip and twice as long for a round trip, covering more than 80 km in total.
AutoFlight’s announcement came as Shenzhen yesterday also rolled out a raft of policies encouraging the development of a so-called low-altitude economy.
Bao’an, a district of Shenzhen, has taken the lead nationwide to unlock business opportunities as the country steadily lifts restrictions on its low-altitude airspace.
According to media reports, Bao’an has begun work to open the nation’s first route for eVTOL-powered sightseeing, pending regulatory approval.
At the same time, the district also looks to launch what it calls the world’s first commercial urban aerial transportation route.
Officials from Bao’an also vowed to add five state- and provincial-level platforms for innovation in the eVTOL segment by the end of 2025.
Besides, the district plans to build over 100 vertiports for eVTOL aircraft, or flying cars, to take off from and land at, add 50 flight routes for UAVs and complete 300,000 commercial drone-enabled deliveries a year by 2025.
As part of its strategy to turbocharge the eVTOL industry within Shenzhen, the district signed memorandums of understanding (MoU) with AutoFlight and EHang (亿航智能, Nasdaq: EH) yesterday.
Bao’an has been in an overdrive to attract leading UAV and eVTOL firms to set up offices in or relocate to this area, in its quest to construct an urban air mobility (UAM) network.
The some 400 square km of land is already a pioneer in the so-called low-altitude economy.
Lying at the heart of the Guangdong-Hong Kong-Macao Greater Bay Area, it is a world-class manufacturing hub and has complete supply chains.
About 21 out of 100 drones worldwide are produced in Bao’an, statistics show.
The district is home to a group of well-known UAV manufacturers or related companies, such as Phoenix-Wings (丰翼科技), Changfang UAS (凌悦航空) and Alltech (科卫泰).
Just last month, Bao’an signed a MoU with German eVTOL company Lilium, with the latter releasing a plan to set up its Asia headquarters in the district.
From there Lilium will move on to sell its electric jets, offer after-sale services and technical support, and expand into China proper and the whole Asia-Pacific region.
“We expect China to account for 24% of the global electric air mobility market,” Patrick Nathan, co-founder of the Lilium, was quoted as saying in Shenzhen News, a local newspaper.