Guangdong steps up for low-altitude upper hand
Updated: May 29, 2024 11:22 China Daily

An action plan for promoting the high-quality development of the low-altitude economy in Guangdong province, an economic powerhouse in South China, will help speed up the commercial use of low-altitude aircraft in the near future, according to companies involved in the industry.

The plan, stretching from this year to 2026, proposes to build a world-leading low-altitude economy hub in the province within three years, with the economic scale exceeding 300 billion yuan ($41.4 billion).

"The low-altitude economy is not an industry that can be developed overnight, and the plan issued by the local government, covering aspects from airspace management to infrastructure construction, expanding urban scenarios to industrial innovation capabilities, is crucial for the industry's development," said He Tianxing, vice-president of EHang Holdings Ltd, one of the leading urban air mobility technology companies in the world.

The plan, which was issued by the provincial government early last week, aims to establish a low-altitude industrial pattern featuring coordinated development between three key cities — Guangzhou, Shenzhen and Zhuhai.

Guangdong will nurture a number of leading enterprises and specialized innovative companies in the low-altitude economy by supporting the development of the industry through government investment funds and establishing special funds through market-oriented approaches to guide more funds into key areas of the low-altitude economy.

"As a representative enterprise in the industry, we will work together with all parties to promote the high-quality development of the low-altitude economy by accelerating commercial use of our electric vertical takeoff and landing (eVTOL) aircraft and infrastructural development for takeoff and landing," said He.

Chinese companies engaged in the low-altitude industry have geared up to prepare for the commercial use of low-altitude aircraft, as the plan encourages the use of helicopters and eVTOLs to explore and expand new low-altitude formats including air commuting, business travel, aerial shuttles and cross-border flights, and more.

The plan also proposes to explore and open low-altitude air routes between Guangdong and Hainan provinces.

EHang, based in Guangzhou, has launched demo flights for its eVTOLs in carrying passengers, logistics, smart city management and air lighting shows.

Its EH216-S has obtained the world's first Type Certificate, production certificate and standard airworthiness certificate for passenger-carrying pilotless eVTOL aircraft issued by the Civil Aviation Administration of China.

Type Certificate is an approval of the design of civil aviation products including civil aircraft, aircraft engines or propellers, issued by the CAAC in accordance with regulations governing the quality of civil aviation products and parts.

Xpeng Aeroht, the flying car unit of Chinese electric vehicle maker Xpeng Motors, also had its Type Certificate application accepted by the CAAC for its air module of the company's latest modular flying car with ground and air modules.

"The true arrival of flying cars in urban air mobility may take some time. But the modular flying car targeting individual users will be able to fly in the next five years because the land module can be driven and the air module can fly in some specific areas," said Qiu Mingquan, vice-president of Xpeng Aeroht.

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