November 16, 2010
China is planning to open its airspace below 13,120 feet (4,000m) to civilian aircraft in a move that will unlock one of the world's largest untapped markets for civil aviation, according to a report in the Financial Times.
The Chinese authorities said in a policy paper that low altitude airspace would gradually be opened to private aircraft, according to reports posted on the websites of the Chinese defense ministry and state council.
Light aircraft and helicopters are currently absent from Chinese skies because of extremely tight military control over airspace with private flights having to be agreed in advance with the military and civil aviation authorities.
"Right now it is basically impossible to use general aviation aircraft in China and some aircraft owners are already pushing the envelope by flying without permission," said Jason Liao, chairman and chief executive of China Business Aviation Group, who was quoted in the FT. Liao has been lobbying for the past decade to get Beijing to open China's lower airspace.
"This is a huge step for China and almost certainly means the country will eventually become the second-largest market in the world for general aviation aircraft like helicopters and turboprop aircraft [after the US]," he said.
Currently the People's Liberation Army has the final say over the use of airspace and often schedules drills at short notice severely disrupting commercial aviation and exacerbating long flight delays.
According to the policy paper any aircraft flying at 1,000 meters or lower will be able to take off and fly without any prior approval or paperwork.
Aircraft flying below 4,000 meters but above 1,000 meters will be required to file a flight plan with the authorities but will not need to get approval in order to fly.
According to state media, as of the end of 2008 China had only 898 private aircraft compared with 222,000 private aircraft in the US.
The paper did not include a timeline but said the government would draw up an administrative and legal framework for aviation over the next decade with plans speeding up from 2012.
Wednesday, November 17, 2010
Another example of "make money, not war"
While it is not converted by this FT write-up (here), but owning a private jet has become a huge status symbol (here) in China.
Posted by Coatepeque at 8:58 AM