EHang, the South China-based urban air mobility (UAM) and eVTOL developer, has flown its first passenger demonstration flight in the UAE. 

The test is the first of its kind to take place in the Middle East. 

The EH216 series of pilotless eVTOL aircraft were all tested in Abu Dhabi at the Emirates Falcons Aviation Club in Al Ali.  The solo passenger took a seat in EH216-S, the air taxi-specific model of the series. Its firefighting outfitted craft, the EH216-F, and EH216-L, which is set up for logistics and deliveries, were also tested this week. 

Unlike Joby’s recent test flight in New York City, the person onboard EHang’s eVTOL was not a pilot but a company executive. Mohamed Al Dhaheri, board member of EHang’s local “strategic partner” Multi Level Group, took a seat on the short flight. 

The aircraft was flown without anyone onboard in April at the UAE’s DRIFTx event, but this week’s manned flight was a turning point, the autonomous flight pioneers said. 

“The recent flights represented a continuous fruitful outcome of EHang’s further development in the UAE,” its company statement said. 

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Huazhi Hu, founder and CEO of EHang said: “After securing the approval for passenger-carrying demo flights and conducting the debut flight, we will actively foster collaboration and communication between the GCAA [General Civil Aviation Authority] and the Civil Aviation Administration of China to expedite the progress towards commercial flights of our pilotless aircraft in the UAE, which will become a milestone in the advancement of Abu Dhabi and the global air mobility sector. With strong local government support and valued partnerships.”