A Chinese airport has declared war on illegal drone flights that may affect aircraft safety, launching a hot line and offering cash for information on miscreant drone pilots in the wake of a number of recent incidents.
Kunming Changshui International Airport in Southwest China's Yunnan Province said that they will offer 1,000 yuan ($146) as a reward after several drones were seen in the airport's restricted zone, a staffer told the Global Times Monday. She added that the hot line was launched on Sunday.
There have been four or five close calls involving drones in the past two days in the vicinity of the airport, the Xinhua News Agency reported Sunday.
Separately, airports in Shenzhen, South China's Guangdong Province and in Mianyang, Southwest China's Sichuan Province, also reportedly found unknown flying objects on Friday and Thursday respectively, causing several flight delays and cancelations.
There has been a rapid increase in drone use in China, especially for entertainment purposes. However, there are still no comprehensive laws or regulations to properly standardize use of the aircraft and manage their safe operation, experts noted.
There are more than 20,000 drones in China, but only half of their operators have "driving licenses," said Ke Yubao, secretary-general of the Aircraft Owners and Pilots Association of China (AOPA), the only organization to distribute Civil Unmanned Aircraft System Pilot Certificates - a driving license for drones, according to a report from the Sichuan-based West China Metropolis Daily in January.
Lawmakers in Sichuan also previously suggested a real-name buyer registration scheme to better track down badly behaved drone owners, the paper reported in January.
"Most drone buyers are just armchair pilots, so they need to be educated in safe use and about risks," Hou Min, a deputy director of the AOPA, told the Global Times on Monday.
Drone pilots must be informed of safety concerns, such as avoiding collisions with aircraft or the risk of fire - some users had apparently attached fireworks to drones during the Spring Festival holiday - and also security concerns, as drones can be used to spy on military and intelligence facilities, Hou said.
According to data provided by news portal thepaper.com, from December 2013 to September 2015, there were 327 incidents in the world where drones came dangerously close to civilian aircraft, and in 28 cases, the aircraft had to course correct to avoid collision.