AutoFlight, a Chinese eVTOL (electric vertical take-off and landing) company, is set to accelerate its global expansion by launching in Europe.
Led by former Airbus manager Mark R. Henning, the Europe team is establishing itself in Augsburg, Germany. Its first task will be to achieve European Aviation Safety Agency (EASA) certification for AutoFlight’s airtaxi ‘Prosperity I’, an eVTOL aircraft with a range of around 250km.
Prosperity I sets up to three passengers in addition to the pilot and the certification programme will begin this year, with completion expected by 2025. Prosperity I is the company’s first manned aircraft, having previously focused on unmanned cargo drones.
AutoFlight said that safety is its ‘top commitment’, and will be working closely with European authorities to ensure its airtaxi is as safe as a commercial airliner.
“We are bringing aircraft construction back to Augsburg, creating a high-tech location and jobs as we build drones and create a completely new market segment for airtaxis,” said Henning, AutoFlight Europe’s managing director.
“What I really like about AutoFlight and ‘Prosperity I’ is the underlying simple concept. Simplicity translates into safety and efficiency.”
This simplicity, AutoFlight said, is the so-called ‘lift and cruise’ configuration, combining range and safety with low technical complexity and affordability.
AutoFlight previously introduced Logistics AUVs (unmanned aerial vehicles) and has completed more than 10,000 take-offs and landings in adverse weather conditions. It is now ready to build its people carrier and will show the progress made in transition tests within a few weeks.
The Shanghai-headquartered start-up has a flight control system research centre in Germany and a composite material manufacturing plant in Jining, Shandong province. Its mission is to provide reliable aerial logistics systems and urban air mobility solutions, using new technologies such as artificial intelligence, autonomous driving and 5G.