Happy New Year as Chinese move toward open airspace
As the year of the Rabbit beckons, there is good news for Chinese PPLs – and wannabees. The Chinese government has started loosening restrictions on GA by allowing flights in selected areas in airspace below 1,000 meters. As of last Friday Haikou, the capital city of China’s luxury Hainan island province, has allowed four helicopters to fly without having to request prior permission beforehand. Tests should continue until the end of March.
The military and Civil Aviation Administration of China (CAAC) control Chinese airspace, so less than 30 percent of it is open to civil aviation. Private flight plans can take up to a week before they are approved.
The trials will be rolled out over other areas over the next five years. Aircraft flying above 1,000 meters and below 4,000 meters will still be required to file a flight plan but, if the tests go well, they will not need to seek approval from authorities. China presently has about 1,000 private aircraft on its register, a drop in the ocean compared to other countries.
The news is good, but China is still some way off being truly GA friendly. There are few airfields and aircraft and even fewer available instructors. But the potential is there and the world and its wife is rocking up there to take advantage of a possible brave new world of aviation. Composite manufacturers were out in force at the Zhuhai Airshow last November from all over the globe. Germany, Australia and the US played particularly strong hands and one Japanese plastics manufacturer rocked up with no fewer than five prototypes of a light aircraft aimed at flying schools and clubs.
Happy New Year, indeed – or Gong Hei Fat Choy!