New Experimental Zones Will Support UAM and the Drone Industry in China
The Civil Aviation Administration of China (CAAC) has announced the first Unmanned Civil Aviation Experimental Zones (UCAEZs) to help accelerate the drone industry in China. “The list of UCAEZs covers as many as 13 cities including Beijing, Shanghai, Hezhou, Hangzhou, Zigong, Anyang, Nanjing, Tianjin, Yulin, Shenyang, Dongying, Anqing and Ganzhou,” says a press release from Ehang, the Chinese urban air mobility provider.
China is home to the majority of the world’s small drone manufacturers, including global leader DJI and pioneering urban air mobility company Ehang. China has allowed applications such as contactless delivery and drone disinfection with small UAS. One of the most well-known players in the drone industry in China, Ehang has been able to test and implement a wide variety of passenger drone applications: aerial tourism, aerial firefighting, search and rescue, and more.
The new experimental zones are designed not only to offer the airspace for testing innovative drone applications, but to ease the process of developing drone businesses. “In May 2020, the CAAC issued Guidance on the Construction of Unmanned Civil Aviation Experimental Zones (“the Guidance”), proposing to organize and mobilize industry forces to provide the UCAEZs with integrated “convenient channels” for airworthiness, operation, air traffic control and business licensing.,” says the press release. “The Guidance also promotes active cooperation with the local governments of the UCAEZs in airspace coordination, and encourages unmanned aviation enterprises and institutions to make use of existing infrastructure to implement operating practices.”
In addition to supporting the entire drone industry in China, this latest move may help move Urban Air Mobility (UAM), or passenger drones, forward. Data and a history of safe operations is vital to the global adoption of UAM: greater services in China could help to provide that information for other aviation authorities.
Ehang “will leverage this new policy to accelerate implementation of its Urban Air Mobility (“UAM”) Pilot City Initiative in the UCAEZs,” says the press release. “Under the guidance of the CAAC and the UCAEZs, EHang will soon initiate regular UAM operational services. As such, EHang is to gradually expand its business model from an AAV solution provider to a UAM platform operator as planned.”
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