Unmanned air taxi trial in Mecca

Pioneering demonstration aims to enhance mobility solutions for future Hajj events in Saudi Arabia

Front End, a leader in integrating advanced technology across sectors, has successfully enabled the first unmanned air taxi trial in Mecca, in collaboration with EHang, the leading urban air mobility (UAM) technology platform company. This trial signifies a key advancement towards implementing smart mobility solutions in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia.

Supported by the General Authority of Civil Aviation (GACA), the Ministry of Transport and Logistics Services, the Ministry of Hajj, and the Ministry of Interior, this initiative demonstrates the potential of government-private partnerships in driving technological progress. The trial aimed to explore efficient transportation options for the annual Hajj pilgrimage, addressing the logistical challenges of moving millions of pilgrims.

His Excellency Abdulaziz Al-Duailej, President of GACA, remarked, “The trial marks a major advancement in integrating Advanced Air Mobility (AAM) solutions into Saudi Arabia’s aviation landscape. We are committed to the highest safety standards and seamless integration into existing air traffic systems. This trial acts as a proof of concept for multiple use cases and contributes to various AAM roadmap initiatives. We appreciate the instrumental support of Front End and EHang to mark this historic milestone for Saudi Arabia.”

This demonstration aims to streamline transportation during Hajj, facilitating faster movement between key locations and ensuring a smoother, safer experience for pilgrims. Mr. Majid Alghaslan, Chairman and CEO of Front End Limited Company, emphasized, “Front End is at the forefront of this trailblazing trial, paving the way to a new era in smart mobility solutions, potentially revolutionizing Hajj transportation. Aligned with Saudi Vision 2030, our purpose is to foster a ‘Connected Kingdom,’ serving as a gateway for our partners to access growth opportunities in Saudi Arabia and the wider region. This achievement stands as a testament to the power of government-private partnerships in accelerating new technology adoption. Partnering with EHang made this pioneering solution a reality.”

The trial was conducted in a low-risk area within protected airspace to assist authorities in setting the regulatory environment for deploying eVTOL aircraft. These aircraft aim to enhance mobility, reduce congestion, and promote sustainability during Hajj.

“These eco-friendly marvels offer a cost-effective solution for urban transportation, tackling congestion while aligning perfectly with the Kingdom’s goals for a sustainable future. This advancement underscores Front End’s dedication to national progress and its commitment to shaping a greener, more efficient tomorrow in mobility,” added Alghaslan.

Mr. Huazhi Hu, Founder, CEO, and Chairman of EHang, stated, “This debut flight of the EH216-S pilotless eVTOL in Saudi Arabia marks a significant milestone in EHang’s ongoing internationalization and an important step forward in propelling global advanced UAM reform, showcasing the potential of our pilotless eVTOL products and solutions for widespread adoption in the Middle Eastern market. Looking ahead, with the strong support of GACA and in partnership with Front End, we will work together to establish a benchmark for regular AAM operations in Saudi Arabia, driving progress in both regional and global AAM markets.”

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Miriam McNabb is the Editor-in-Chief of DRONELIFE and CEO of JobForDrones, a professional drone services marketplace, and a fascinated observer of the emerging drone industry and the regulatory environment for drones. Miriam has penned over 3,000 articles focused on the commercial drone space and is an international speaker and recognized figure in the industry.  Miriam has a degree from the University of Chicago and over 20 years of experience in high tech sales and marketing for new technologies.
For drone industry consulting or writing, Email Miriam.


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