AutoFlight Celebrates Two Milestones

Dean Sigler Announcements, Batteries, hydrogen, Hydrogen Fuel, Sky Taxis, Sustainable Aviation Leave a Comment

AutoFlight, the Chinese firm founded by Tian Yu (Yuneec), celebrated two milestones, although maybe not “firsts” as described in the company’s press releases.  Both, however, are impressive and worthy of note.

First Intercity Flight

AutoFlight claims to have flown the first inter-city electric air-taxi demonstration flight between the southern Chinese cities of Shenzhen and Zhuhai.  In an autonomous trip, AutoFlight’s five-seat Prosperity eVTOL (electric Vertical Take Off and Landing) aircraft flew the 50km (31 miles) route from Shenzhen to Zhuhai. The flight across the Pearl River Delta took just 20 minutes, a journey that would require three hours by car.  For those with the funds to make the flight the difference in time is incalculable.

Routes comparing 20-minute flight across delta with three-hour drive around large body of water

According to the company, “This marks the first public flight of an eVTOL aircraft on a cross-sea and inter-city route, spanning across the bay where the Pearl River meets the sea, connecting the two southern Chinese cities.”  In 2021, Australians flew a Pipstrel Alpha Electro to a world record over-water distance of 30.8 kilometers (19.14 miles)   Neither matched the cross-English Channel flights of Gerard Thevenot in a hydrogen powered “trike” in 2009 or the air-launched Cri-Cri powered by Lynch-type motors and the Airbus e-Fan in 2015.

Planning big, “the route is part of the future air traffic scenario planned by the regional government as it develops its ‘low-altitude economy’ strategy that will see the opening of thousands of vertiports and hundreds of eVTOL airs routes across the Greater Bay Area in southern China.”  Eventually, 300,000 low-altitude cargo unpiloted flights will include passenger transport, tourism, logistics and emergency services. In the short term, plans are in development to achieve 300,000 cargo UAV flights in this region per year.

Heli-Eastern, a “low-altitude general aviation carrier and helicopter service provider,”  has agreed to purchase 100 Prosperity aircraft to be used on the demonstration route and on other routes connecting ferry ports and other transportation hubs.

First Three Ship Formation Flight

In a milestone moment for the aviation industry, AutoFlight, an autonomous electric vertical takeoff and landing (eVTOL) technology company, successfully executed a world first formation flight of three autonomous eVTOL aircraft in Shanghai, China.

Three of AutoFlight’s “Prosperity I” eVTOL models were involved in the groundbreaking flight, demonstrating the company’s capability in rapid prototype design and manufacturing, and its ambition to shape the future of aerial transportation.


Tian Yu, founder of AutoFlight, who who started with small drones and expanded from there, explains, “We aim to complement urban and regional means of transport for all people by building very safe, quiet and affordable air taxis,”

Announced at the Vertical Flight Society Electric Flight Symposium on July 27, a three-ship formation flight over a 28-kilometer trip took place on June 17, 2023.  The flight demonstrated synchronized takeoffs and landings, and formation flying to, “Test the environment for any potential aerodynamic interference of close-proximity takeoff and landing of more than one aircraft.”  The three craft represented three generations of Prosperity 1, and were built within the 12 months preceding the test.

Notes accompanying the video fill in some blanks.  “The three full-scale electrical aircraft flew at different heights and for different durations. The earliest iteration of ‘Prosperity I’ flew at an altitude of 80m and covered 28km in 12 minutes, the next flew at an altitude of 100m covering 91km in 35 minutes and the latest model covered 120km in in 42 minutes achieving an altitude of 120m.

“ AutoFlight’s ‘Prosperity I’ is an advanced electric aircraft capable of vertical takeoff, followed by a transition to traditional horizontal flight, and boasts of speeds over 200KMH and a range exceeding 250KM.

“The aircraft holds the world record in the longest eVTOL flight, 250.3 km since February 2023. When services are fully operational, eVTOL air taxis will be safe, quiet and offer emission free affordable transport for the masses.”

Parsing the term “first,” the company explained “a world first formation flight of three autonomous eVTOL aircraft.” AutoFlight is aiming to certify the cargo version of the Prosperity, the Carryall, with China’s aviation authorities in 2024.

A Note from Green Car Congress

“Prosperity was designed by Frank Stephenson, the designer who revolutionized the Mini and the Fiat 500, and created iconic designs for Ferrari, McLaren and Maserati, among many others, before turning his talents to the skies and the realm of flying taxis.”

His sense of design is obvious here and contributes to the “salability” of the concept to the general public.  Crowds around Prosperity 1 at this years Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas are evidence of that attraction.

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