A delivery company in China is stepping into the future with the first operating license to permit experimental drone deliveries, it was reported by Chinese civil aviation authorities on Tuesday.
China’s top courier SF Express received the permit to operate in east China’s Jiangxi Province. The permit will allow the company to conduct commercial drone deliveries at a pilot zone at Nankang District in Jiangxi’s Ganzhou City.
The permit was issued by the East China Regional Administration of the Civil Aviation Administration of China (CAAC).
Wang Zhiqing, deputy director of CAAC said, “The issue of the license means that drone transportation in China has entered a new stage.” The CAAC expect that the technology will be of great benefit to individuals living in rural regions
“SF Express will build a drone delivery network, expand delivery services in those remote areas of complex topography and improve its logistics efficiency,” said Tian Min, a senior employee with SF Express.
Tian said the next step is to expand the performance throughout the Jiangxi province of and eventually across the entire nation.
The jointly filed airspace application for the “UAV logistics demonstration area” by SF Express and Nankang District of Ganzhou City, has been officially approved by the Eastern Theater Command and is currently the only formal approval in China. This airspace demonstration area is also jointly promoted by enterprises, central supervisory organs and local governments.
SF began testing with UAV delivery in 2013, conducting up to 500 flight tests per day it was reported by The Paper, with drone delivery evaluations being conducted in Nankang District since June 2017.
In June 2017, SF Express made its first business UAV delivery and was then able to draft an “Interim report of the rural area poverty alleviation project”. This led to the signing of a cooperation agreement with the government of Nankang Distrct, Ganzhou.
At the time, SF Express introduced a variety of UAV models, to cover a range of business scenarios with a maximum effective load of 5–25 kg, and a maximum load flight distance of 15–100 km.
Local resident Zhu Biying, who lives in Dagu Village near the pilot district, said he believes it will be a success.
Formerly, it was difficult to carry eggs along with other farm goods to the township nearest Zhu’s mountainous hometown, about 10 km away. He was convinced of the success of the drone delivery because no eggs were broken when hauled by the testing drones.
He told reporters that the delivery drone solved his transport issues, and clients who ordered online could even have his goods delivered to their doorstep that same day.