Drone enthusiasts in China are scrambling to secure licenses after the government unveiled strict regulations earlier this year amid incidents involving drones straying into the flight path of aircraft. As Kate King reports, that's opened up some other new buisness ventures.
Experts predict the sale of drones could reach more than 4 billion dollars globally - within the next seven years. That means THIS could turn into a very lucrative business. It's a training school in northern Beijing - for practicing pilots, because China now requires drone enthusiasts to qualify - for a license to fly. (SOUNDBITE) (Mandarin) 32-YEAR-OLD OFFICE EMPLOYEE, GAO HUIQIANG, SAYING: "The company I work for has just got involved in drones so they sent me here to study. Since the laws on drones are tightening, they want me to get the license first." The price though, could be off-putting. It costs around 1500 dollars to get an official qualification. That's ok if like Gao, your company is paying, but it's a different case for the casual user. (SOUNDBITE) (Mandarin) MANAGER OF DJI STORE, HAO JIALE, SAYING: "There has been some influence on our sales. Many people are considering purchasing but since the new policy came out they have some concerns .They don't know if more regulation will be introduced and want to wait and see." China is the world's top manufacturer of consumer unmanned aerial vehicles. But recent mid-air incidents with commercial aircraft prompted the government to crack down. It ordered all pilots to register their real names and drones with China's Civil Aviation Administration. 120-thousand people did before the August deadline. (SOUNDBITE) (Mandarin) 28-YEAR-OLD MODEL AIRPLANE USER, LI TIE, SAYING: "We need to think about whether it is convenient to fly the drones before we buy them. If we have to go to a remote place every time we want to fly it, it might influence our decision." Despite the curbs - a snapshot of China's drone camera market looks positive. Tech research firm IDC says its expects an annual growth rate of 68 percent in five years - with shipments reaching the 3 million mark by 2019.