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China to develop drone airworthiness certification

Five Chinese unmanned aerial vehicle companies have been authorised as pilots to develop different programmes to explore airworthiness standards

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The civil UAV industry is witnessing rapid growth in China
The civil UAV industry is witnessing rapid growth in China

The Civil Aviation Administration of China (CAAC) has published guidance on unmanned aerial vehicle airworthiness with a view to establishing a risk-based UAV airworthiness management system by the end of 2019.

 

A total of five Chinese UAV companies have been authorised as ‘pilots’ to initiate and develop different UAV programmes for exploring airworthiness standards and certification methods for UAVs for transporting cargos, inspecting powerlines and carrying passengers.

 

Meanwhile, EHang, a member of the CAAC specialised management group for civil UAVs, has been named China’s first company for piloting and testing of passenger autonomous aerial vehicles (AAV).

 

UAV applications

 

In recent years, the industry of civil UAVs has experienced rapid growth in China. Looking beyond aerial filming, the connection with 4G/5G network further expands various so-called ‘UAV+’ applications including smart city management, logistics, emergency rescue, and urban air mobility.

 

According to the Guidance on UAV Airworthiness Certification based on Operational Risks, CAAC intends to build up China’s UAV airworthiness certification management guided by three principles:

  • Exploring a certification method by closely orchestrating hierarchical certifications with different levels of operational risks;
  • Exploring a certification process by extracting CAAC certification standards and regulations from industrial standards;
  • Exploring a certification mode with a more tolerant, open and service-oriented perspective by encouraging UAV companies to jointly participate in the airworthiness management through an integrated information system.

CAAC said so long as UAV companies establish a qualified airworthiness system and their UAV products have met airworthiness standards, it will issue the airworthiness certificate.

"The urban air mobility that EHang AAVs have explored and pioneered persistently is no longer a future concept, it is a to-be realised ’China Innovation’”

CAAC expects, in the near future, that the UAV industry will eventually be on a par with the general aviation industry, or even replace some applications of current general aviation aircraft in certain fields.

 

According to EHang, it is assisting CAAC in analysing operational risks and jointly establishing relevant standards based on actual operational data.

 

"The urban air mobility that EHang AAVs have explored and pioneered persistently is no longer a future concept, it is a to-be realised ’China Innovation’,” said Hu Huazhi, CEO and founder, EHang.


“China and EHang have already become the forerunners in establishing a digitalised air eco-system with the innovative applications of urban air mobility, aerial logistics, smart city management, aerial media and other commercial solutions."

 

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