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Happy New Year as Chinese move toward open airspace

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!


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  • January 31, 2011

    Hey, I’m really pleased to have found your posts, it’s the exact kind of blog I was looking for. I’m really interested in the emerging business aviation market in China and hearing about developments.

    I guess it is quite a niche topic though, I find it hard to find information and updates; are there any sites or other blogs you would recommend?

    Will you be covering SIBAS (Shanghai Intl Business Aviation Show) in March at all?

    • February 7, 2011

      Thanks Ashlea! Try searching on linkedin – plus all the usual suspects: flightglobal, avweek and AIN – all good reference sources. Some of the Chinese newspapers in English are a good port of call as well. Cheers, Liz

  • February 1, 2011

    Cool knowledge! I have been seeking for everything similar to this for a while now. Thanks!

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