China’s First Autonomous Inter-City eVTOL Flight Achieved by AutoFlight

Leading electric vertical takeoff and landing (eVTOL) aircraft developer AutoFlight has accomplished the world’s first autonomous inter-city flight with an electric air taxi. The Prosperity eVTOL traversed 50 km between the cities of Shenzhen and Zhuhai across the Pearl River Delta in just 20 minutes, a journey that would take approximately three hours by land. Regional authorities plan to launch hundreds of air taxi routes and thousands of vertiports.

The Prosperity air taxi is a compact vehicle capable of transporting up to four passengers over distances of 250 km at speeds of up to 200 km/h. This eVTOL is equipped with 10 electric motors with propellers for vertical takeoff and landing. For horizontal flight, the air taxi utilizes a tail electric motor with a propeller and wings. AutoFlight aims to secure permission for commercial flights of this aircraft by 2026.

AutoFlight successfully navigated through complex and strictly regulated airspace. The demonstration flight showed that the air taxi could safely integrate into existing air traffic.

The regional government plans to open thousands of vertiports and hundreds of eVTOL air routes across the Greater Bay Area in southern China, including the route between Shenzhen and Zhuhai. This area alone is expected to accommodate up to 300,000 flights per year. Low-altitude application scenarios include passenger transport, tourism, logistics, and emergency services.

One of AutoFlight’s partners is Heli-Eastern, a leading low-altitude civil aviation carrier and helicopter service provider in the region. Heli-Eastern has acquired 100 Prosperity eVTOL passenger aircraft from AutoFlight. The aircraft will be used on similar routes and other transportation hubs in the region.

eVTOL technology offers numerous opportunities for urban transport. They differ from helicopters in that they require minimal infrastructure for takeoff and landing, yet offer high speeds comparable to conventional airplanes. Using electric power units reduces operational costs and decreases noise levels.

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