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2018 International Forum on the Development of Civil Unmanned Aircraft Held in Beijing02/04/2018

On March 22-23, the 2018 International Forum on the Development of Civil Unmanned Aircraft was held in Beijing. The Forum focused on such issues as new developments in unmanned aircraft technology, new challenges in airspace safety, and new regulations on industry oversight. Chinese laws, regulations and policies related to the civil unmanned aircraft, ATM innovations and development, as well as achievements and plans in terms of UAS application were presented and international best practices were exchanged during the Forum, to promote the coordinated and safe development of unmanned aircraft and the traditional aviation industry.

The Forum was hosted by the Civil Aviation Administration of China. Present at the forum were more than 300 representatives from international organizations such as the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) and the European Aviation Safety Agency (EASA), national ministries and commissions, provincial and autonomous regional governments, aeronautic manufacturing companies and operating companies.

Li Jian, CAAC Deputy Administrator, highlighted in his keynote speech that at present, unmanned aircraft is increasingly used in such fields as agriculture, electrical power supply, geo-surveying, security and national defense, and has become a new driver propelling innovation and overall improvement in the aviation sector, thus ushering in a new era for the civil aviation industry. However, as an important part of modern aviation system, the operation of unmanned aircraft will inevitably have a profound impact on national aviation security, air transport safety and public security, and long-term efforts are required to expand the operation of civil unmanned aircraft from segregated airspace to non-segregated airspace and finally integrate UAS into the national airspace system. He emphasized that the integration is indispensable to the development of unmanned aircraft. Therefore, it is necessary to press ahead with the development of an operation-centered system of laws, regulations and standards, a traffic management system allowing UAS access to airspace, and a key technology research and development system based on trial operations, and take initiatives, to promote the continuous, safe and healthy development of unmanned aircraft.

Five major topics were discussed during the forum, including unmanned aircraft operation management concepts and plans, key technical support and interoperability, as well as the structure of the system of laws, regulations and standards. During the panels, participants delivered speeches on the long-term development of civil unmanned aircraft, conducted extensive exchanges on hot topics concerning unmanned aircraft, and adopted after discussion the Beijing Initiative.

In recent years, China witnessed rapid growth in the unmanned aircraft market. As of March 23, over 180 000 civilian drones have been registered under real names. At the same time, there is a growing tendency for unmanned aircraft to gradually replace manned aircraft in such fields as general aviation and air cargo transport, and it is expected that by 2022, agricultural production and entertainment aerial photography will likely be the first to enter the initial phase of widespread application of unmanned aircraft. In order to integrate the unmanned aircraft into the national airspace system and ensure national aviation security, air transportation safety and public security, CAAC will continue to improve flight safety management, promote civil unmanned aircraft related legislation, and establish efficient management agencies and smooth operation management mechanisms, to facilitate the building of an unmanned aircraft operation management platform.