China’s Low-Altitude Economy Soars with Minimal Government Interference

has given the go-ahead for increased activity by drones and other aerial vehicles, triggering enthusiasm for the vast potential offered by the technology seen as crucial for boosting the country's rapidly growing “low-altitude economy”. The Civil Aviation Administration of China (CAAC) has promised to improve support services and refine the airworthiness certification system to expedite development in this sector, reports SCMP.

What is the Low-Altitude Economy?

The low-altitude economy refers to a wide range of industries related to vehicles, both manned and unmanned, generally operating below an altitude of 1,000 meters. This sector grew by 33.8% year-on-year in 2023 to 506 billion yuan (US$70 billion) and is expected to surpass 1 trillion yuan by 2026.

“By 2030, a new development model for general aviation, characterised by high-end, intelligent and green features, will be established,” – Ministry of Industry and Information Technology guideline

Applications and Growth

Present products in the field are widening their reach, with a variety of applications from manned airships to electric vertical take-off and landing () aircraft. The AS700, a civil manned airship developed by Aviation Industry Corporation of China, completed its first transfer flight and is anticipated to be deployed for tourism, emergency rescue, and public services.

The scale of China's eVTOL industry reached 980 million yuan in 2023, a year-on-year increase of 77.3%, and is projected to reach 9.5 billion yuan by 2026. Civil drones saw their market share go up by 32% to 117.43 billion last year, with industrial drones reaching 76.68 billion yuan. These multipurpose vehicles are used in emergency support, energy inspection, agriculture, and forestry protection.

“Civilian drones in China have pioneered industry-wide adoption in sectors such as agriculture, forestry, animal husbandry, fisheries and aerial photography,” – Luo Hongjiang, CAAC official

China's low-altitude economy is soaring, with the government promising minimal interference and improved support services. The applications of drones and other aerial vehicles are expanding rapidly, from logistics to emergency rescue and urban air travel. As the airworthiness certification process for eVTOL aircraft advances, the future prospects of drone applications in China look bright.

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Haye Kesteloo
Haye Kesteloo

Haye Kesteloo is the Editor in Chief and Founder of DroneXL.co, where he covers all drone-related news, DJI rumors and writes drone reviews, and EVXL.co, for all news related to electric vehicles. He is also a co-host of the PiXL Drone Show on YouTube and other podcast platforms. Haye can be reached at haye @ dronexl.co or @hayekesteloo.

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