Most drone enthusiasts already know that China will continue to play a huge role in the “Game of Drones.” After all, it is home to DJI, the company that currently holds 70 percent of the global commercial drone market.
The firm has grown from 20 employees to 2,800 and has sparked a UAV Renaissance in China, created a growing need for drone pilots on the mainland. According to the Civil Aviation Administration (the Chinese equivalent of the FAA), the country’s demand for civilian drone pilots will exceed 30,000 by 2018. Currently, the government operates 42 training schools with 700 licensed pilots.
“More than 10,000 civilian drones will be needed in China once the industry is fully developed and regulations are put in place,” Zhang Feng, secretary-general of the Aircraft Owner and Pilots Association of China told China Daily. “The market value of developing, manufacturing, operating and maintaining these drones will reach 50 billion yuan ($8.18 billion).”
CityLab editorial fellow Linda Poon explains the current training process in China:
“At one drone-flying school in Shenzhen, Guangdong, the cheapest tuition is 130,000 yuan (over $20,000 U.S. dollars) for 120 hours of training. In the town of Changping, Beijing, a 10-day class will cost you 80,000 yuan, or over $1,255 U.S. dollars … Students spend those days learning how to assemble a drone, how to fly one through game simulations—and to hit the books. To earn their license, students must pass not only a practical test but also a theory exam.”
In a nation where the average salary in large cities like Shanghai is around $1,100 per month, Ke Yubao, spokesperson for China’s Aircraft Owners and Pilots Association told China Daily that pilots can earn more than $3,000 per month.
Like the FAA, the CAA recently adopted licensing requirements and restrictions for drone use. Users operating drones that weigh more than 7 kg, have visual range radius loner than 500 meters and fly higher than 12 meters must be licensed. Pilot applicants must pass a test on drone theory in addition to a practical exam in order to be licensed.
Jason is a longstanding contributor to DroneLife with an avid interest in all things tech. He focuses on anti-drone technologies and the public safety sector; police, fire, and search and rescue.
Beginning his career as a journalist in 1996, Jason has since written and edited thousands of engaging news articles, blog posts, press releases and online content.
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