China Making Progress Toward GA-Friendly Skies

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Changes are expected soon that would make China much more open to general aviation, according to China Daily. "There will be progress in opening up the low-altitude airspace in the later half of this year, and many local governments have expressed interest in investment," said Wang Xia, vice president of the General Aviation School at Civil Aviation University of China. The skies have gradually become more open to private, low-altitude aircraft, but only if operators comply with a complex and time-consuming approval process that involves several different government agencies. To become a private pilot, applicants must pass a series of tests and physical exams, and spend about $20,000. There are only about 1,000 private pilots in China, according to China Daily. Meanwhile, officials are investigating corruption in China's aviation industry, the Canadian Press reports.

Several officials have been fired, and investigations continue into bribery and influence peddling involving individuals in both industry and government, according to the CP. "In China, aviation is a semi-militarized industry, not a completely commercial one," said Zhang Qihuai, a law professor at the Logistics College of the Chinese Air Force. "It attracts huge amounts of money and power ... This has been a terrible problem for a while." One aviation official, who had not been targeted in the probe, threw himself in front of a train last week.