China Eases GA Restrictions

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China has taken a major step toward opening its airspace for general aviation operations, Reuters has reported. The government said that effective Dec. 1, companies and individuals flying in a private jet or helicopter no longer need to have their flight plans pre-approved by the military. Flights will still need to be OK'd by the Civil Aviation Administration of China, and civilian aircraft must stay out of designated no-fly zones. The change should make it much easier for U.S. companies like Cessna and Bombardier to sell jets in China, Reuters noted. On Tuesday, the General Aviation Manufacturers Association welcomed the news. "This change is in keeping with Chinas plans to develop the general aviation industry, as outlined in the 12th Five Year Plan," GAMA said in a news release.

Under the new procedures, GA operations in nine categories -- including border areas, prohibited zones, and aerial photography over sensitive areas -- will continue to require prior flight mission approval and the use of transponders, GAMA said."General aviation airplanes and helicopters are uniquely suited to bring the benefits of rapid access to medical care as well as economic growth and prosperity to more people," said GAMA President Pete Bunce. "But they need accessible airspace and sufficient infrastructure to do this effectively." He said GAMA looks forward to "further liberalization of altitude restrictions to accommodate growing demand."