The Austrian aviation firm FACC has assumed responsibility for manufacturing the autonomous air taxis of the Chinese aerial vehicle company EHang and is developing it to make it ready for series production. According to FACC Managing Director Robert Machtlinger, the first autonomous aerial vehicles suitable for mass production are planned to be manufactured in Austria in the second half of 2019. The air taxis have room for two people and their baggage, and can achieve a maximum speed of about 160 km/h.
At present, the air taxis have a range of about 80 kilometres and cost approx. EUR 300,000. The FACC managing director explained that potential areas of deployment include supplying oil rigs with materials and tools as well as rescue missions in areas where manned flights are too dangerous. Machtlinger stated that the first transport of people is expected to take place in Asia within the next 12-18 months. He expects that Europe and the USA will follow Asia’s lead two to three years later and allow regular transport services for passengers. In collaboration with the European Aviation Safety Agency, efforts are being made in Austria to ensure that the necessary legal framework is created, according to Norbert Hofer, Federal Minister of Transport, Innovation and Technology on the occasion of the presentation.