China advances compulsive UAV standards to Jan 1 next year over safety concerns

Chinese legislators have been agitating for stricter management of drones, as they multiplied in numbers over the past few years.

China will implement mandatory safety standards on civilian UAV activities starting January 1 next year, five months ahead of the scheduled date, amid heightened concerns about the safety risks a proliferation of drones have posed to the country’s airspace.

According to a notice published on the website of Standardization Administration, a national standardization agency under the state market supervisor, the safety requirements, code-named GB42590-2023, are due to take effect the first day of next year.

They concern 17 technical aspects related to UAV activities, including geo-fencing, emergency treatment, structural rigidity, power system, sensing and obstacle avoidance, lighting, noise test, among others.

The new standards apply to micro-sized, light-bodied, and small civilian UAV except for model aircraft.

Photo courtesy of General Aviation Media

UAV owners or operators must comply with standards set out in these areas to be eligible for flying drones at home.

Somehow part of the GB42590-2023 standards is exempt from the official decision to advance the date of implementation, originally scheduled for June 1, 2024.

These include requirements on remote identification, controllability, data chain protection, and more, the notice explained.

It’s unclear why these dimensions were excluded for the time being.

GB 42590-2023 — GB is the pinyin spelling of guo biao, or national standard — serves as the underpinning of China’s Interim Regulations on UAV Flight Management, also effective January 1, 2024.

Chinese legislators have been agitating for stricter regulation of drones, as they multiplied in numbers over the past few years. They occasionally strayed into no-fly zones or violated flight bans for the duration of major sporting events.

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Ni Tao

Ni Tao is the founder and editor-in-chief of cnrobopedia. Prior to cnrobopedia, he had a full decade of experience with a major state-run English-language newspaper as a tech reporter and opinion writer. He is also a communications specialist, having provided consultancy services to established firms like Siemens, Philips, ABinBev, Diageo, Group (Nasdaq: TCOM, HK: 9961), Jianpu Technology (NYSE: JT) and a handful of domestic startups. A graduate of Fudan University, he writes widely about China's business and tech scenes and other topics for global publications including South China Morning Post, SupChina, The Diplomat, CGTN, Banking Technology, among others, and tries to impart his experience to students at Fudan University Journalism School, where he is a part-time lecturer. When he's not writing about robotics, you can expect him to be on his beloved Yanagisawa saxophones, trying to play some jazz riffs, often in vain and occasionally against the protests of an angry neighbor. Get in touch with him by dropping a line at

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