While China was one of the first countries to trial drone delivery the fledgling industry may take a blow this month. At the General Aviation Development Summit in Beijing last week, Ke Yuyu, the secretary of the China Aircraft Owners and Pilots Association (AOPA) secretary Ke Yuyu said that new drone regulations are to be released this month. The rules are in the midst of China’s approval procedures, but have already been passed by China’s Civil Aviation Administration, TechinAsia.com reports.
The proposed regulations may require registration and aviation authority approval for drones over 25 kg (55 lbs). Drones weighing more than 150 kg (330 lbs) or those that could carry cargo would be subject to very strict registration and regulations. But the registration and restrictions are not the worst of it for drone delivery companies: Ke reported that the new laws would ban drone delivery outright in congested areas.
Drones have been relatively unregulated in China to date. Applications in agriculture and construction are growing rapidly in China; DJI, the world’s leading drone manufacturer, is based there. The new regulations represent China’s first attempt to take control of the rapidly expanding technology. Delivery companies hope that they may see some adjustment or loosening of the laws before they actually pass this month.
Chinese shopping service Alibaba trialled drone delivery publicly in China in 2013, when 450 customers purchasing a specific brand of ginger tea were given the opportunity to have their packages delivered by drone in less than one hour. The packages, which weighed less than 340 grams, were delivered to customers within a certain radius of specific distribution sites in Guangzhou, Beijing, and Shanghai.
SF Express, a major Chinese delivery company who runs a fleet of scooters, vans, and airplanes, also privately trialled drone delivery in 2013.
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 a degree from the University of Chicago and over 20 years of experience in high tech sales and marketing for new technologies.
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