China: General aviation to get boost

BEIJING (China Daily/ANN) - China is planning to build a three-level service system for flights in low-altitude airspace to meet the needs of the country’s general aviation development, the Civil Aviation Administration of China announced on Friday.

By 2020, China will initially complete a low-altitude flight service system consisting of one national information management system, seven regional information processing systems and a group of flight service stations, according to a plan drafted by the CAAC in July.

The system will provide flight planning, aviation and weather information, warnings and other assistance and rescue services. By 2030, it will complete other functions and services.

“The plan is fundamental, systematic and service-oriented. It’s an important part of our country’s overall aviation reform and is crucial to the development of the general aviation industry,” said Xu Hao, director of CAAC’s air traffic regulation office, who spoke at a news conference on Friday.

The plan stipulates that flight service stations will be classified into A and B according to their functions, and each provincial region will set up at least one A station. The number of B stations is not limited.

It also makes clear the five tasks required to draft related regulations and to improve aerial information services, communication monitoring in low-altitude airspace and other flight scheduling management.

The implementation of the plan will be supervised and managed by the CAAC and regional administrations, but participation by local governments and other sectors of society also is encouraged in the system’s establishment, Xu said.

“The current low-altitude flight service is unable to meet the needs to effectively develop and utilize low-altitude airspace, which is why such reform is necessary,” he said.

China’s general aviation industry is expected to continue to develop rapidly. By the end of 2015, more than 300 general airports were in operation serving 1,874 aircraft, aviation officials said. They estimate that the number of aircraft will surpass 5,000 and the market size will hit 1 trillion yuan ($144 billion) by 2020.

To support such fast development, China has opened up access to low-altitude airspace step by step and put forward a series of reform policies since 2010.

In 2010, the State Council issued a document on measures needed to reform low-altitude airspace management, including categorizing airspace at different altitudes, setting up test cities and formulating regulations.

In 2014, the government stipulated that airspace below 1,000 meters was accessible to general aircraft and in 2016, another State Council document set the goal of opening up airspace below 3,000 meters, beginning in test cities like Shenyang, Guangzhou and Changchun.

“The reform has largely stimulated private investment in the general aviation industry. The number of such companies and aircraft has grown at an average rate of over 20 percent annually,” Xu said.

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