Chinese drone companies need to multiply the number of their vertiports to increase the application of drone delivery, a senior Chinese official said recently.
Phoenix Wings (丰翼无人机) and Antwork (迅蚁科技), two domestic drone delivery service providers, have built around 400 and 140 vertiports nationwide, Wang Weijun said on December 14.
Wang is the director of Aerial Delivery Office at the Freight Department of Civil Aviation Administration of China,
Wang made the remarks at a domestic civil aviation industry conference in Yantai of eastern China’s Shandong Province on December 14.
Shenzhen-based Phoenix Wings, a subsidiary of delivery giant SF Express (顺丰速运), currently operate 200 flight paths around the country, Wang said.
He added that Antwork, a Hangzhou-headquartered startup, now has 250 flight paths under operation.
From the 13th Five-Year Plan period (2016-2020) onward, China’s drone industry has been growing at a breakneck speed.
In 2022 alone, 2,467 new ventures were up and running, bringing the total to some 13,000.
Flight hours of UAVs across the nation amounted to 20.67 million hours, up 6.2% year on year, according to Wang.
He didn’t disclose the source of the information.
A 50% leap by 2024?
In terms of annual output, Chinese UAV industry contributed 117 billion yuan (US$16.42 billion) last year and is projected to leap about 50% to 160 billion yuan as of 2024.
A breakdown of the expected revenue indicates that drone delivery is forecast to generate 30 billion yuan by the end of next year, representing a fifth of the entire market size.
Major constraints include the limited number of vertiports, or vertipads, for the take-off and landing of UAVs.
Wang called for efforts to deepen reforms in low-altitude airspace management and guide drone developers to accelerate construction of vertiports by themselves.
As drone-led delivery emerges as a key application scenario, logistics giants like SF Express, JD Group, ZTO and Meituan have gone into overdrive to weave a drone logistics network and monetize drone technologies.