China reportedly bans drone delivery systems

Reports are emerging that the Chinese civil aviation authority is about to ban the use of drone delivery systems in urban areas. The unconfirmed reports have been leaked during the General Aviation Development Summit that was held in Beijing by leading website, though there has been no official comment on the matter.

The reports suggest that the ban would be temporary but is to ensure safety in urban areas. The ban will solely be against drones carrying payloads, and will be until their safety can be guaranteed.

China banning drone delivery systems could be a major setback for those who dream of Amazon parcels buzzing to our back gardens as its middle classes account for a significant number of worldwide customers. Federal Aviation Authority bans are effectively in place in major urban centres in the US – drones are not allowed to fly in the busy airspace around New York for example, where the drone delivery system could otherwise really take off. Over south west London, low flying aircraft are flying in every couple of minutes to Heathrow – this is one of the wealthiest parts of London yet would be very unlikely to see an Amazon drone in flight.

In the testing and development of these systems, there have been no tests around congested urban areas – most of the testing has taken place in rural areas. Safety is one of the major concerns behind regulators being unlikely to give the go ahead in the near future. Only Finland’s Posti has attempted to use one in an urban area, and that was from the edge of Helsinki to an island offshore.

Regulatory issues are one of the most intractable problems facing companies that seek to use drones to deliver their goods, setting the bar very high for developers who are working on the technological side which is very complicated in its own right. We won’t see drones replacing white vans any time soon!