Drones in China New Airspace Rules

Drones in China: Unregulated Airspace Expansion to Boost Domestic UAV Industry and Align with International Standards

by DRONELIFE Staff Writer Ian J. McNabb

Asia Nikkei, in partnership with Chinese business news conglomerate Caixin, recently reported on newly announced changes by Chinese civil air authorities that could see more of China’s airspace opened up to drones and eVTOLs. According to December’s National Airspace Basic Classification Method released by the Civil Aviation Authority of China (CAAC), the country will now organize its airspace into 7 classes, 2 of which are unregulated, meaning that air traffic control services will not be provided.

This includes airspace with a mean sea level of less than 6000 meters and around 300m above the ground (except for areas surrounding airports and other critical infrastructure). This move is clearly designed to spur on the domestic eVTOL and drone industry, who will benefit from fairly unfettered access to the new airspace. It also will bring Chinese regulations closer in line with standards set by the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO).

This follows a discussion at the Central Economic Work Conference about strategically supporting the fast-growing low-altitude airborne economy focused on UAVs and eVTOLs, a space in which the Chinese government has heavily supported development. The classification system was published in a draft document of the country’s Regulations for Airspace Management, which concluded its period for public comment on Dec. 8. It is unclear when the policy will formally be adopted.

The other listed categories cover all aviation between 6000-20000m, as well as regulated air zones like general aviation and civil airports and are formally regulated.

In other regulatory news, Dronelife recently reported on a recent Kentucky bill that could have significant effects on the UAV space in the Bluegrass State.

The original reporting by Caixin Global is available here.

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Ian McNabb is a staff writer based in Boston, MA. His interests include geopolitics, emerging technologies, environmental sustainability, and Boston College sports.


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 penned over 3,000 articles focused on the commercial drone space and is an international speaker and recognized figure in the industry.  Miriam has a degree from the University of Chicago and over 20 years of experience in high tech sales and marketing for new technologies.
For drone industry consulting or writing, Email Miriam.


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