Chinese eVTOL-maker AutoFlight is seeking European certification of its Prosperity I vehicle and has therefore established a new R&D and Certification Center in Augsburg (Germany). AutoFlight hopes to get EASA certification in 2025. China’s AutoFlight enters Europe to get EASA ticket.
The Shanghai-based company has already developed three unmanned cargo drones, but Prosperity I will be the first manned air taxi. The full-electric vehicle can transport four occupants over 250 kilometers. The design team has kept a simple ‘lift and cruise’ design. In an animated picture, there are five or six electric motors for vertical movements and one tail motor for horizontal flight. AutoFlight is gaining experience on manned eVTOLs by developing the V1500M autonomous vehicle, which made its first flight last October.
AutoFlight hasn’t disclosed customers for the vehicle, which joins a very competitive market that until now has been dominated by Eve Air Mobility, Vertical Aerospace, Joby, Archer, and Lilium. The Chinese start-up attracted the attention of German tech holding company Team Global, which invested $100 million last November. Team Global CEO Lukasz Gadowski has joined the Board of AutoFlight since.
To increase its chances on the international market, AutoFlight needs to get international certification. That’s why it established its flight control research center in Augsburg as the first of a few (test) locations in Europe. The European team is led by Mark Henning, who joined AutoFlight this month with 26 years of experience in the aviation industry. He has worked for DASA, EADS, and Eurocopter before joining Airbus Helicopters, where he was head of product of the EC135.
AutoFlight is not the only Chinese company that is active in the eVTOL market. EHang has been out there since 2014 and has developed two-passenger models since 2017. XPeng HT Aero started back in 2013 and unveiled its X2 two-seater last July, which it plans to roll out in 2024. Geely Group acquired US-based Terrafugia in 2017, which has two developed two manned vehicles under the Aerofugia brand. Geely also invested in German start-up Volocopter, which is partly owned by Daimler. COMAC is also entering the eVTOL market, but they are in the early stages. Other Chinese players are TCab, Volant Aerotech, MuYu Aero, and Panto.
Active as a journalist since 1987, with a background in newspapers, magazines, and a regional news station, Richard has been covering commercial aviation on a freelance basis since late 2016.
In 2022, he has gone full-time freelance. Richard has been contributing to AirInsight since December 2018. He is also writing for Airliner World and Aviation News. From January 2023, he will add a part-time role with Dutch website and magazine Luchtvaartnieuws. Twitter: @rschuur_aero.