Local officers could meet challenge of remote-controlled craft, adviser says
A national political adviser has suggested establishing aerial traffic police teams to help regulate the boom in drone flights.
"In the same way that traffic police look for traffic violations, aerial traffic police are needed to discover flight violations and enforce the law accordingly," said Wu Renbiao, a member of the 13th National Committee of the Chinese People's Political Consultative Conference and vice-president of Civil Aviation University of China in Tianjin. [Special coverage]
Managing unmanned flying drones is a worldwide challenge, Wu said. To address the problem, local governments, backed by investment from central authorities, could build systems for monitoring drone flights, he said.
"The management of unmanned drones involves many ministries," Wu said.
"The Air Force now monitors illegal drone flights, but without local jurisdiction it's hard to enforce the law. By the time the Air Force has told local police, the drones have already flown away."
The development of unmanned flying craft has boomed since 2014. China produced nearly 450,000 drones in 2016 and was expected to reach 500,000 in 2017.
"There are around 3 million drones worldwide, 75 percent of which were made in China," Wu said.
Cooperation between ministries should be promoted but, more practically, local governments should shoulder the responsibility, Wu said.
Drones with high-resolution cameras are becoming more affordable－a popular model costs about 3,000 to 4,000 yuan ($450 to $650)－and can be purchased online.
The Civil Aviation Administration of China reported 19 illegal drone flights at Chinese airports in May last year that affected 326 commercial airline flights. Eleven of those incidents took place at Chengdu Shuangliu International Airport, delaying the flights of more than 10,000 passengers.
Since June, incidents of drones interrupting civil aviation have prompted the introduction of regulations requiring drone manufacturers to incorporate geofencing－global positioning or radio frequency identification to define a geographic boundary－in their products, along with real-name registration of drones that weigh more than 250 grams.
The administration has developed two cloud computing systems, U-cloud and U-care, for unmanned aerial vehicle flight registration and monitoring.
According to Xinhua News Agency, there are around 20,000 unregistered unmanned aerial vehicles in China. A draft regulation on the management of drones was published by the CAAC in February.
The Ministry of Industry and Information Technology of China released a guideline in December to encourage and regulate drones.