A drone or UAV (Unmanned Aviation Vehicle) have become increasingly popular for recreational use, agriculture, film casting and delivery sectors, along with espionage. Following reports from this summer that drone pilots would be required to have a license in some parts of China, the Civil Aviation Administration has launched some of the country’s first drone-flying schools. The class, in Beijing’s Changping district, was photographed by China News.
According to the Civil Aviation Administration’s preliminary estimates, China’s demand for civilian UAV pilots will exceed 30,000 by 2018. At present there are 42 training centres in China and only 700 people have licenses, a figure that the Administration is calling “a serious shortage”.
A 10-day course at the Changping training centre costs 8,000 RMB (1255 USD). Students are required to pass a theory test as well as a practical test just like learning to drive a car. Along with textbooks and actual time spent using a UAV, the schools use computer simulations to prepare students for reality. China News recommends the licensing system as quite sensible, taking into account the fact that most drones available to the public weigh around 7kg and fly at heights of around 120m, up to a 500m radius out of the pilot’s line of sight.
The UAV schools are sure to have a lot of new students very soon. In a China Daily article, experts are quoted as saying UAV operators can earn up to 20,000 RMB per month in first-tier cities such as Beijing, Shanghai and Shenzhen.
The images below show staff assembling a drone in the centre’s UAV warehouse in time for an opening ceremony at the school exhibition hall.
by Daniel Cunningham