civil

China has 1.27 million registered drones in 2023, supported by leading manufacturing capability

A drone photo taken on March 19, 2024 shows drones spraying pesticides on the crops at the smart farm at Shuanglou Village, Bozhou City of east China's Anhui Province. By introducing IT technologies like Internet of Things, Big Data and Artificial Intelligence, Jiao Rui, a young farmer born in the 1990s, has set up a smart decision making system on his farm which greatly improved the production efficiency.(Photo: Xinhua)

A drone photo taken on March 19, 2024 shows drones spraying pesticides on the crops at the smart farm at Shuanglou Village, Bozhou City of east China’s Anhui Province. By introducing IT technologies like Internet of Things, Big Data and Artificial Intelligence, Jiao Rui, a young farmer born in the 1990s, has set up a smart decision making system on his farm which greatly improved the production efficiency.(Photo: Xinhua)

The total volume of China’s registered drones reached 1.27 million as of the end of 2023, increasing by 32.2 percent year-on-year, according to Civil Aviation Administration of China on Friday.

The Government Work Report of 2024, which was approved during the two sessions earlier this month, stated that China will develop new quality productive forces including fostering new growth engines in fields such as the low-altitude economy and underlined the development path of the drone industry.

The rapid growth of the drone industry in China will be a long-lasting trend and is expected to be accelerated in the future, Wang Yanan, chief editor of Beijing-based Aerospace Knowledge magazine, told the Global Times on Friday, adding that the types of civil drone will be further segmented and used in more industries. 

“China’s leading manufacturing capability can produce nearly every type of drones, and can support the rapid growth of the industry,” he noted.  

In 2023, accumulated flight hours of China’s civil drones were recorded at 23.11 million hours, up 11.8 percent year-on-year. Civil drones have been widely deployed in the sectors of agriculture, forestry, livestock farming and fishery, as well as entertainment and photography. 

In addition, preliminary management mode and technical standards of drones used in urban scenarios and logistics sectors now have the foundation to be further promoted. Manned and unmanned drone flights have also entered the test and verification phase, according to Xinhua News Agency. 

In response to some Western countries’ smears that China-produced drones are being used for military purposes, Wang said that China has issued strict regulations on drone exports and taken concrete measures to maintain global security.

Chinese authorities on July 2023 issued two notices implementing export controls on certain unmanned aerial vehicles and related items, a move expected from a responsible major country and one that is conducive to regional security, especially when drones for civilian use are increasingly being converted for military purposes.

“However, a consumer drone cannot be clearly tracked after being sold and some Western countries’ allegations are an issue of global security governance, which is not solely China’s obligation,” said Wang.