Flight approval procedures have been simplified for private aircraft operated within Chinese airspace, a reform that could lead to greater development of China's general aviation (GA) industry when the new rules become effective Sunday, Dec. 1.
Under the new procedures, jointly issued by the Civil Aviation Administration of China (CAAC) and the military, GA aircraft operators flying outside of restricted airspace within the country no longer need to submit flight plans to the military. The majority of airspace in China is controlled by the military, making it difficult for GA operators to conduct business in the region.
GA flights will still need flight plans filed but they will no longer need to obtain prior flight approval. However, GA operations under nine categories, including border areas, prohibited zones as aerial photography over sensitive areas.
GA manufacturers such as Cessna and Beechcraft could find new opportunities in China because of the rule changes. China's GA industry is still in its very early stages, with a limited number of GA airports and operators which were previously limited by the military to flying one to two GA aircraft within airspace at a time.
Pete Bunce, president and CEO of the General Aviation Manufacturers Association (GAMA), commended the Chinese government for "taking this initial step" and that he looks forward to continued reform of GA regulations in China.
“We commend the government for taking this initial step and we look forward to the pending release of further regulations that more clearly define the altitudes specified for GA operations. With this change, general aviation now has the opportunity to do in China what it does best: to link people and communities, provide emergency medical and disaster relief services, and significantly contribute to economic vitality," said Bunce.