July 13, 2024

Shanghai-Based Company Completes World’s First Delivery of ‘Air Taxi’

AutoFlight, a prominent electric vertical takeoff and landing (eVTOL) technology company headquartered in Shanghai, has achieved a significant milestone by successfully delivering the world’s first Prosperity eVTOL aircraft to a pioneering operator in Japan for Advanced Air Mobility. This groundbreaking delivery marks the first global deployment of a civilian eVTOL aircraft weighing over a ton, as disclosed by the Shanghai-based company via its official WeChat account on April 1.

The Prosperity eVTOL, also recognized as an “air taxi,” represents a cutting-edge fixed-wing aircraft leveraging rotors for vertical takeoff, subsequently transitioning to horizontal flight utilizing its wings. Developed by AutoFlight, this innovative aircraft boasts a maximum takeoff weight of two tons and is meticulously designed to accommodate up to five passengers.

The recipient of this groundbreaking delivery, described as a Japanese company with a century-long operating history and recognized as one of the earliest Advanced Air Mobility (AAM) operators in Japan, intends to utilize the Prosperity eVTOL for urban air traffic demonstration flights. Moreover, the aircraft is poised to play a pivotal role in facilitating eVTOL demonstration flights at the 2025 Osaka Expo, according to AutoFlight.

The journey of the Prosperity eVTOL began with its inaugural proof-of-concept prototype flight in Shanghai towards the end of 2021. Since then, the aircraft has undergone several rounds of development, culminating in notable achievements such as setting a global record for a two-ton eVTOL by covering 250.3 kilometers on a single charge in 2023. Furthermore, it achieved another milestone by executing the world’s first formation flight involving three eVTOLs weighing over a ton.

Visitors inspect the EH216-S pilotless air taxi during the 2023 China Brands Day in Shanghai. Picture: Costfoto/Nur (Getty Images)

In February of this year, the Prosperity eVTOL showcased its capabilities by completing the world’s first intercity demonstration flight in South China’s Guangdong province. The aircraft successfully traversed the eVTOL cross-sea and cross-city route from Shenzhen to Zhuhai, reducing a ground journey of 2.5 to 3 hours to a mere 20 minutes.

Recognized for its potential to revolutionize urban air and intercity travel within metropolitan areas, eVTOL technology is hailed as a crucial solution for future urban air traffic and a cornerstone of the burgeoning low-altitude economy. Numerous countries worldwide have implemented policies and initiatives to foster the development of advanced air mobility, with China designating the low-altitude economy as a strategic emerging industry last year.

Shanghai, a frontrunner in embracing the low-altitude economy concept, has emerged as a hub for innovation in the unmanned aerial vehicle sector. Leading companies in the industry, including AutoFlight, Tcab Tech, Volant, and Ver Taxi, have established their presence in the city.

AutoFlight, in addition to its research and development manufacturing center in Shanghai, has extended its footprint with a European Airworthiness Center in Germany and a business center in the United States. The company continues to spearhead the application of eVTOL technology across various sectors, ranging from island logistics to emergency material transportation, underscoring its commitment to advancing the realm of commercial aviation.

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