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China Kick-Starts Private Aviation Industry Development

by Mary Swire,, Hong Kong

23 November 2010

China has announced that it is to ease prohibitive restrictions on low-altitude flights as the government attempts to establish itself as a world leader in the private aviation sector.

The government, in a state media report, disclosed that it would be beginning trial programmes before 2011, and anticipates a national rollout of the new rules by 2015.

In a move designed to kick start the country’s private aviation sector, flight restrictions that require pilots to obtain permission well in advance of flights will be eased. It is proposed that Chinese airspace be divided into three zones: restricted areas; surveillance areas; and areas with free for general-purpose aviation. Pilots will still be required to request permission but less far in advance.

Due to current restrictions, Chinese individuals in 2009 had just 900 general aviation aircraft – those not used for military or commercial passenger transport – lagging far behind nations such as the US, which is home to more than 240,000 private aircraft. The decision by the government is expected to trigger a surge in demand for private aircraft over the next five years by wealthy buyers, one that the government is said to be preparing to capitalize on.

The announcement comes alongside a statement by the Deputy General Manager of the Aviation Industry Corporate of China, Xu Zhanbin, of details of how the government plans to expand the aviation sector.

He said that the government would set in motion plans to establish airspace control infrastructure and pilot training programmes. Xu said that the liberalization of Chinese airspace however would need to be carried out on a staggered basis to ensure that security and safety protocols are in place.

The government also plans to open research facilities and sales centres with a view to expanding its offering of helicopters and aircraft to the domestic, and international marketplace. He said the government would begin the development of new aircraft, which would take 5 to 8 years, for launch in 2023, after additional extensive testing and refinement.

TAGS: aviation | China

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