China's Beidou navigation system recognized as global standard for commercial aviation

China’s home-grown BeiDou satellite navigation system – similar to the Global Positioning System (GPS) – has gained an international qualification that allows it to expand into global commercial aviation, with the “important milestone” a potential boost for the technology, analysts said. Beidou has been recognized by the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) as one of its standards, becoming a universal satellite navigation system for civil flights globally, the Civil Aviation Administration of China (CAAC) said. The Chinese system, completed in 2020, has 56 positioning satellites in its network. “It is indeed an important milestone,” said Guo Rui, CEO of Chongqing Changying Aviation Technology. “It will increase the diversity and redundancy of navigation systems, providing more options and backups for possible failures or disruptions.”

BeiDou and the U.S.-made GPS are two of the four core providers of global satellite navigation systems, next to Russia’s Global Navigation Satellite System (Glonass) and the European Union’s Galileo. China’s navigation system had already fostered a domestic market of more than CNY140 billion last year, Industry and Information Technology Minister Jin Zhuanglong said in October. It has also led to a wide range of applications in domestic transport, communications and agriculture, according to a report by the Global Navigation Satellite System and Location Based Services Association of China (GLAC).

Of the 13 million BeiDou devices produced in the first six months of the year, more than 60% were used in transport, while mobile electronic devices accounted for nearly 30% and the agricultural sector 12%, according to the report. The output value of China’s satellite navigation industry reached CNY500.7 billion in 2022, more than 30% related to research and development (R&D) and production, and nearly 70% due to applications and services. “We need to push it to go overseas,” said a Beijing-based analyst who asked not to be named due to the sensitivity of the issue. “It may have broader applications in countries involved in the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI).” GPS retains the largest share of the world’s commercially available positioning systems. In 2022, the GPS system held 42.9% of the global positioning systems market, according to a report by San Francisco-based market research company Grand View Research, the South China Morning Post reports.