Shanghai company completes world's first delivery of 'air taxi'

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AutoFlight, a leading electric vertical takeoff and landing (eVTOL) technology company, recently delivered the first Prosperity eVTOL aircraft to a pioneering operator in Japan for Advanced Air Mobility, which marks the first global delivery of a civilian eVTOL aircraft weighing over a ton, announced the Shanghai-based company on its official WeChat account on April 1.

The aircraft will be used for urban air traffic demonstration flights and to fully support the goal of achieving eVTOL demonstration flights at the 2025 Osaka Expo, said AutoFlight, adding that the customer is a Japanese company with a century of operating history and is also the earliest AAM operator in Japan.

Prosperity, also known as an "air taxi", is a fixed-wing aircraft that uses rotors to achieve vertical takeoff before using its wings for horizontal flight developed by AutoFlight. It has a maximum takeoff weight of two tons and is designed to accommodate five passengers.

Since its first proof-of-concept prototype was flown in Shanghai at the end of 2021, the aircraft has undergone several rounds of development. In 2023, it set a global record for a two-ton eVTOL by flying 250.3 kilometers on a single charge and completed the world's first formation flight of three eVTOLs weighing over a ton.

In February, Prosperity completed the world's first intercity demonstration flight in South China's Guangdong province. The aircraft flew on the eVTOL cross-sea and cross-city route from Shenzhen to Zhuhai, shortening a ground journey of 2.5 to 3 hours to just 20 minutes.

As eVTOL can be widely used in urban air and intercity travel within metropolitan areas, significantly reducing travel time, it is considered an important solution for future urban air traffic and a key component of the development of the low-altitude economy. Currently, several countries worldwide have implemented relevant policies and measures to promote the development of advanced air mobility.

China labeled the low-altitude economy as a strategic emerging industry last year, with more than 10 regions nationwide, including Shanghai, unveiling plans to develop the field in their 2024 government work reports.

As a pioneer embracing the low-altitude economy concept, Shanghai has been a trailblazer in the unmanned aerial vehicle sector with the industry's leading companies almost all based in the city, which include AutoFlight, Tcab Tech, Volant, and Ver Taxi.

Besides a research and development manufacturing center in Shanghai, AutoFlight also established a European Airworthiness Center in Germany and a business center in the United States. The company has been leading the application of eVTOL technology in scenarios such as island logistics, organ transportation, emergency material transportation, and commercial logistics.

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