Chinese eVTOL specialist AutoFlight has established an R&D and certification centre in Augsburg, Germany. The site has been tasked with gaining EASA certification for the Prosperity I air taxi, with completion expected by 2025.
The site at Augsburg Airport is AutoFlight’s first location in Europe. The “dedicated and growing” team there is led by Mark R Henning, a former Airbus manager. AutoFlight plans to establish additional locations for test and demonstration flights across Europe.
Prosperity I is an electric vertical takeoff and landing aircraft with a range of approximately 250km (135 nautical miles). It can seat up to three passengers in addition to the pilot. The certification programme will begin in 2022. Prosperity I is the company’s first manned aircraft. Previously the focus was on unmanned cargo drones.
“I am delighted to share that Mark Henning is joining AutoFlight in Europe to build our Prosperity I air taxi according to EASA safety standards,” said Tian Yu, the company’s founder, chairman and CEO.
AutoFlight affirmed that safety is and always will be its top commitment – it stated a dedication to make Prosperity I as safe as a commercial airliner, and said it will work closely with European authorities.
Henning took on the position as managing director at AutoFlight Europe in January 2022. He is an aeronautical engineer and graduate of Munich’s Technical University, and has worked in the aviation industry for 26 years. Henning started his career at DASA and has held leadership positions at EADS and Eurocopter. Previously, he was manager for governmental business at the helicopter division of Airbus, and head of product, EC135. He has also held positions in programme management, strategy, production and development and has worked for the Airbus Group in Indonesia, South Korea, Israel, South Africa and the USA.
“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 air taxis,” said Henning. “What I really like about AutoFlight and Prosperity I is the underlying simple concept. Simplicity translates into safety and efficiency.”
AutoFlight has a ‘lift and cruise’ configuration. It is designed to combine superior range and safety with low technical complexity, to make it affordable.