SF Express gets first China drone licence to deliver the goods

Although many domestic logistics and electronics giants are actively trying out UAV delivery (Unmanned Aerial Vehicle) today, none of them have been able to reach a stage of large-scale deployment. This is largely due to the supervisory pressure stemming from the regulatory guidelines of UAV usage. Therefore, getting authorized for UAV deployment has now become the goal for these logistics and electronics businesses.

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.

On June 29th, SF Express made its first business UAV delivery throughout the approved demonstration area. Based on this first delivery, SF Express drafted an “Interim report of the rural area poverty alleviation project”, and was able to sign a cooperation agreement with the government of Nankang Distrct, Ganzhou as a result.

The chief engineer of the Civil Aviation Administration of China, Yin Shijun, stated that the Administration will discuss further on how it will support the development of the UAV industry while maintaining aviation safety. He also stated that the Administration suggested obtaining a franchise permit and a business license to SF Express as well.

It is learned that SF Express introduced a variety of UAV models, covering different business scenarios with a maximum effective load of 5-25 kg, and a maximum load flight distance of 15-100 km.

SF began testing with UAV delivery since 2013. During the early stages, their UAVs conducted up to 500 flight tests per day and collected flight information to accumulate a large database for aviation analysis.

In 2015, SF Express, listed company Shaanxi Ligeance Mineral Resources Co., Ltd. (00697.SZ), and Chengdu Electronics Technology Avionics Co., Ltd., the three companies cofounded the Star UAS Co., Ltd. together. In addition, SF Express also became a shareholder of a Shenzhen-based UAV company named Zhihang Electronics Technology Co., Ltd.

At present, the number of applications filed and patents in the field of UAV owned by SF Express amounts to 111, including 51 invention patents, 54 utility models and 6 appearance patents.

At present, SF Express says that in the future, their delivery drones will not be flying directly to all customers, but be used for delivery of goods between different distribution stops of SF Express–especially to locations that are further, harder and slower to reach by man.


This article originally appeared in Tmtpost and was translated by Pandaily.

Click here to read the original Chinese article.