China Southern Airlines has signed a memorandum of understanding with EHang to explore the development of “low-altitude tourism” in the southern Chinese city of Zhuhai. 

The agreement will see China Southern’s general aviation services unit partner with the urban air mobility firm to look into flight operations involving EHang’s autonomous EH216-S electric vertical take-off and landing (eVTOL) aircraft, as well as other areas of “comprehensive support”. 

EHang EH216-S

Source: EHang

“The two parties plan to establish EH216-S operation demonstration sites for low-altitude tourism at the Zhuhai Jiuzhou Airport and the Zhuhai Chimelong Ocean Kingdom, among other popular tourist destinations in Zhuhai, with the aim to launch routine low-altitude flight services and experiential activities,” says EHang. 

The two companies will also look at other areas for the autonomous eVTOL, such as cargo transportation, as well as emergency medical services. 

EHang and China Southern will “leverage their respective strengths” in the partnership. 

“This includes operational team training, vertiport infrastructure construction, flight service platform development, and maintenance standard establishment,” a joint statement reads. 

China Southern General Aviation Company chair Erbao Li says: “This cooperation will create innovative archetypes for the low-altitude economy, unlocking new growth opportunities for the general aviation industry and driving the high-quality advancement of the low-altitude economy industry chain in the Guangdong-Hong Kong-Macau Greater Bay Area.” 

EHang secured Chinese type certification for its autonomous EH216-S, a milestone obtained in October 2023, becoming the first eVTOL developer in the world to gain regulatory validation for its aircraft. In December, the programme received its airworthiness certificate, allowing initial deliveries to commence.