EHang’s autonomous electric vertical take-off and landing (eVTOL) aircraft completed its first flight in Saudi Arabia, as it looks to grow its presence internationally.

The maiden sortie, involving EHang’s passenger-grade EH216-S aircraft, took place in Mecca on 12 June as part of the annual Hajj pilgrimage.

EHang Mecca

Source: EHang

EHang’s EH216-S completed its first flight in Saudi Arabia.

The flight took place in a low-risk area over protected airspace, states EHang, which hailed the occasion as one that “highlights the transformative potential of pilotless eVTOL aircraft for the region’s transportation system”.

It adds the flight is “critical” in shaping the “right regulatory environment” for future autonomous eVTOL flights. EHang worked with Saudi-based firm Front End, along with the Saudi government, for the debut flight.

Says Abdulaziz Al-Duailej, president of the Saudi Arabia’s General Authority of Civil Aviation: “This flight also acts as a proof of concept for multiple use cases and contributes to various AAM roadmap initiatives. We appreciate the instrumental support of Front End and EHang to mark this historic milestone for Saudi Arabia.”

EHang founder and CEO Huazhi Hu adds: “This debut flight of the EH216-S pilotless eVTOL in Saudi Arabia marks a significant milestone in EHang’s ongoing internationalisation and an important step forward in propelling global advanced UAM reform, showcasing the potential of our pilotless eVTOL products and solutions for widespread adoption in the Middle Eastern market.”

The EH216-S also completed its maiden sortie in the United Arab Emirates in May. 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.