Shenzhen aims higher with milestone in intercity air taxi flight

2024-02-29 09:55:31China Daily Editor : Li Yan ECNS App Download

A cutting-edge "air taxi" service, once operational, is expected to gain traction, as electric vertical takeoff and landing (eVTOL) aircraft developer AutoFlight conducted the world's first intercity demonstration flight in South China's Guangdong province on Tuesday.

The service, according to the company, will be a faster option for passengers shuttling between Shenzhen and Zhuhai in Guangdong as it will take only 20 minutes compared to a regular three-hour car ride presently.

AutoFlight's eVTOL aircraft Prosperity, which is capable of carrying five people, managed to complete a 50-kilometer unmanned ride on Tuesday. The aircraft took off from Shekou port in Shenzhen and arrived at Jiuzhou port in Zhuhai after 20 minutes.

According to its maker, the aircraft, which is supported by domestically produced core modules, can attain a cruising speed of up to 200 kilometers per hour. It currently holds the world record as the only eVTOL capable of flying 250.3 km on a single charge.

The route is among the 100 eVTOL aerial vehicle routes planned by the local government to tap the low-altitude economy and facilitate transportation in the Guangdong-Hong Kong-Macao Greater Bay Area.

Tian Yu, founder, CEO and co-chairman of AutoFlight, said, "We are thrilled to showcase Auto-Flight's cutting-edge capabilities today in the world's first cross-sea and intercity eVTOL demonstration flight."

Highlighting the cooperation with local authorities and global partners in this field, Tian said he expects a future where safe, efficient and sustainable eVTOL flights become an essential feature of cities worldwide.

Shenzhen Eastern General Aviation Co Ltd, or Heli-Eastern, said it is considering the purchase of 100 Prosperity models, eyeing the booming transportation demand between key transportation hubs in the GBA.

China labeled the low-altitude economy as a strategic emerging industry last year, with more than 10 regions nationwide, including Shenzhen, already unveiling plans to develop the field in their 2024 government work reports.

As a pioneer embracing the low-altitude economy concept, Shenzhen has been a trailblazer in the unmanned aerial vehicle sector and has released crucial documents to support its infrastructure development.

Guo Yi, an investment feasibility study researcher at Shenzhen-based think tank China Development Institute, said: "As the applications for low-altitude flights expand, low-altitude flight services are poised to move beyond specialized and high-end uses, reaching a broader market. This shift is expected to catalyze the rapid growth of related industries such as low-altitude manufacturing and support services, presenting substantial developmental opportunities."

"Shenzhen, with its significant economic scale and vibrant development, boasts residents with strong purchasing power, which suggests a considerable latent demand for low-altitude services and the growing variety of application scenarios is expected to expedite the concentration and development of industry leaders in this area."


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