Restrictions Hamper Fledgling GA Market

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As we consider the impediments of TFRs and the potential impact of newly permanent restricted airspace around Washington, a little perspective might lift your spirits ... if not the rules. In China, there are 200 private pilots and thousands who'd like to be if not for government regulations so restrictive that even legally licensed aviators are lucky to actually get airborne. "The application process is complicated," said Li Linhai, who became China's first private aircraft owner in 2003. Since then he's been able to fly his aircraft twice. The government apparently sees the potential for GA. "The potential demand is huge as many people evinced interest in buying planes at the business aviation fair held in Shanghai two months ago," Guo Youhu, an official with China's civil aviation branch, told the Shanghai Daily. But the wheels of government grind slowly and even Guo admitted his agency is the problem. Sound familiar? "The impediments to developing private flying in China are the country's highly controlled skies and the busy civil routes in the country's developed eastern and southern areas," he said. The existing rules don't recognize GA, although he said "long-term" plans call for a 2,000-foot threshold for commercial traffic that would allow less-restricted access to GA aircraft below 2,000 feet.