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China Accelerates Opening of Low-Level Airspace
November 26, 2012
In what is widely seen as a move heralding the long-awaited boom in China’s civil aviation market, government officials now say more than a third of the country’s airspace below 4,000 meters (13,000 feet) is now open to general aviation.
The opening of China’s airspace is now expected to be completed by 2020 – years ahead of schedule, according to the deputy secretary of the National Air Traffic Management Committee.
Reforms now underway are expected to begin in earnest by 2015, according to Jason Liao, chairman and CEO of China Business Aviation Group and NBAA’s representative in Asia.
“They [government officials] were trying to go slow at first,” he explained. “They started with a so-called ‘test area.’ But over the past year, so many people in different areas of the country…had so much interest in this, and there was so much pressure to be included in the test area that right now, more than one-third of the country is supposedly in the test area.”
Approximately 36 percent of China’s airspace below 4,000 meters is now open to general aviation, according to government officials attending China’s 9th International Aviation and Aerospace Exposition in Guangdong Province earlier this month.
Liao said Chinese business owners are clamoring for a place in the sky. A survey by the Hurun Chinese Luxury Consumer White Paper 2012 indicated that 63,500 Chinese citizens are financially capable of paying the 100 million yuan ($16.05 million) deemed necessary by industry sources for ownership of a business jet. Of those, 13 percent expressed the desire to purchase such an aircraft, said Liao.
China’s willingness to accelerate the opening of its low-level airspace is widely seen by industry insiders as a signal that the boom is about to begin in earnest.
As the nation continues to evolve its airspace regulations, new pilot projects are now underway in both the northeastern and south-central regions of China. Seven cities – Chongqing, Xi’an, Tangshan, Qingdao, Hangzhou, Kunming and Ningbo – are testing out new airspace regulations below 3,500 feet (1,000 meters).
Liao said other cities and provinces also are clamoring for both airspace reform and facilities to host general aviation.
“Local governments and businesses are more and more putting pressure on the government to open up sooner,” he said. And government seems willing to respond, within limitations, Liao continued. Government figures indicate there were 1,198 general aviation aircraft in China as of last month, but just 300 GA airports in the entire nation. Civil Aviation University President Wu Tongshui pointed out there are still huge shortfalls in fixed-base operators, fuel farms and even crewmembers. China’s general aviation industry, he said, is still in its “infancy.”
This topic, and much more, will be addressed at the upcoming Asian Business Aviation Conference & Exhibition, set for April 16 to 18, 2013, in Shanghai, China. Learn more at www.abace.aero/2013.