Chinese eVTOL firms speed UAE deployment, seeking new opportunities

Chinese electric aerial vehicle start-up Autoflight Aviation Technology conducts trial flights of its eVTOL aircraft

Chinese electric aerial vehicle start-up Autoflight Aviation Technology conducts trial flights of its eVTOL aircraft “CarryAll” in Ai Ain, the United Arabic Emirate on May 6, 2024. Photo: Courtesy of Autoflight

Multiple Chinese enterprises related to the low-altitude economy are ramping up trial flights of their electric vertical takeoff and landing (eVTOL) aircraft in the United Arab Emirates (UAE), as they move to explore international business opportunities following the nation’s development plan for the sector. 

The low-altitude economy can be seen as an unexplored market, with huge domestic and international potential, industry observers said.

Chinese electric aerial vehicle start-up Autoflight Aviation Technology (Autoflight) has completed trial flights of its eVTOL aircraft “CarryAll” in the city of Al Ain, the UAE, the company told the Global Times on Thursday. 

The CarryAll aircraft has a total takeoff weight of two tons, and it has completed a 123-kilometer flight with a duration of 41 minutes. This is the world’s first ton-plus eVTOL to complete a long-distance flight in the Middle East region, according to Autoflight.

Another Chinese eVTOL company, EHang Holdings, held a demonstration flight with passengers via its EH216-S aircraft in Abu Dhabi on Monday, said to be the first of its kind in the UAE and the Middle East region. 

Xie Jia, senior vice president of Autoflight, told the Global Times on Thursday that enterprises from various countries are investing more in low-altitude aircraft, and Chinese companies are taking the lead in some core technical fields. 

“China’s complete supply chain and operating experience in the new-energy vehicle field are accelerating the development of eVTOLs and the low-altitude economy, and the nation’s huge consumption market has provided enterprises with a positive environment of sustainable development,” said Xie.

The 2024 Government Work Reportstated that development of the low-altitude economy is one of the new growth engines. Local governments in many Chinese cities have taken measures to establish testing sites and routes for related aircraft and technologies. 

The first low-altitude drone logistics route in North China’s Hebei Province with a total length of 12.5 kilometers completed trial operations on Tuesday at the Xiong’an New Area, according to the local government. 

Global Times

First Manned Launch of Starliner Spacecraft to ISS Postponed – United Launch Alliance

The first manned launch of Boeing’s Starliner to the International Space Station (ISS) has been postponed by US aerospace manufacturer United Launch Alliance (ULA), which owns the Atlas V launch vehicle, the company said on Tuesday.

“ULA Launch Director Tom Heter III has made the decision to the launch team that launch operations will not continue tonight for AtlasV and Starliner,” the company said.

According to NASA, the reason for the cancellation of the launch was a malfunction of the oxygen valve in the second stage of the launch vehicle.