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New type of flying car enters official verification stage

Shen Mengdan
Chinese EV firm Xpeng's "land aircraft carrier" includes ground and air modules, which can autonomously separate, while the ground module can accommodate the air module inside.
Shen Mengdan
New type of flying car enters official verification stage

An artist's rendition of Xpeng AeroHT's modular flying car.

Chinese EV firm Xpeng's application for a new flying car certificate has been accepted in another step towards airworthiness certification.

The new type of flying car, nicknamed "land aircraft carrier," developed by Xpeng's affiliate Xpeng AeroHT, includes ground and air modules, which can autonomously separate and combine, and the ground module can fully accommodate the air module inside the vehicle and perform ground travel, according to the company's website.

The application of type certificate for the air module with its codename X3-F was officially accepted by the Central and Southern Region Administration of the Civil Aviation Administration. It means the administration will soon begin reviewing compliance and safety levels of the product and its components.

An aircraft need to go through a "3C" process from design to delivery, namely type certificate (TC), production license certification (PLC), and airworthiness certification (AC).

This TC application acceptance represents the authority's recognition of Xpeng AeroHT's comprehensive capabilities and project feasibility, the company said on its website.

The eVTOL (Electric Vertical Takeoff and Landing), with flying cars being a subtype, is a part of the low-attitude economy, a realm centered around civil-manned and unmanned aerial vehicles below 3,000 meters in altitude, which has been identified as a strategic emerging industry in China.

Xpeng AeroHT is one of the first batch of Chinese firms to develop flying cars, and has developed five generations of intelligent electric vertical take-off and landing manned flying cars since 2013, with more than 15,000 test flights, collecting data to develop safe, domestic electric aircraft for commercial use.

EVTOL could be a traffic alternative in metropolitan areas, providing a solution to alleviate urban traffic congestion with its small size and reliable operating system, according to the research report on Urban Air Mobility (UAM) released by NASA in 2018.

Global eVTOL market orders totaled more than 13,000 units, mainly used for personnel transport and air logistics, according to a market forecast annual report released last year by the Aviation Industry Corporation of China.

In the future, the eVTOL market is expected to compete with or replace traditional helicopters in the areas of business flights, short-distance transport, low-altitude tourism, air cargo, and medical rescue, it said.

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