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China has long way to go to build air rescue system (2)

(Xinhua)

09:26, September 15, 2011

SUPPORTING RESOURCES LIMITED

Wang Xia said that flight operations conducted by Chinese general aviation companies have not been given enough attention at local airports due to the rapid development of the country's commercial air industry.

In China, airports are mostly built based on demand for commercial flights and their profitability. It is difficult to make money by providing space and time for smaller aircraft, such as helicopters, at the country's airports, Wang said.

According to Wang Bin, general manager of helicopter manufacturer Avicopter, only 3,000 of China's 24,000 civil aviation pilots are engaged in general aviation. Out of that total, only 650 are licensed to fly helicopters. In addition, support facilities such as maintenance and fueling stations are in short supply, Wang Bin said.

A mistrust of aircraft in general has also discouraged Chinese people from learning how to fly helicopters, he added.

"Due to a lack of basic aviation knowledge, many policymakers choose to spend manpower and money to do things that could have been done much easier and cheaper by using helicopters, limiting the prospects for the industry's development in China," he said.

Wang Bin urged the government to create a distribution plan that would allow more resources to be devoted to the development of the helicopter industry.

OPPORTUNITIES STILL REMAIN

Although insiders see various challenges for the growth of the helicopter industry, economic development and social progress may prove to be the industry's saviors.

"The government has begun to attach more importance to public services and is recognizing the variety of roles that helicopters can play in fire control, disaster relief and medical rescue," said Wang Bin.

Last year, the State Council and the Central Military Commission said that part of the country's low-altitude airspace will be opened to accommodate the country's general aviation sector.

South China's island province of Hainan is being used as a "trial province" as part of this policy, allowing helicopters to fly in low-altitude airspace above the island.

Wang Bin has also suggested simplifying the application procedure for general aviation approval, as the current process takes too much time for rescuers to complete.

Teng Qingxiao, the deputy president of Honliv Hospital in central China's Henan Province, said that rescue pilots have to report their altitude, destination, intended route and other information before being given permission to fly, which can take up precious time during emergency situations.

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