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Low-altitude airspace to open up across China from 2013

(Xinhua)

08:38, August 24, 2012

SHENYANG, Aug. 23 (Xinhua) -- China will relax the ban on the use of low-altitude airspace across the country starting in 2013, the country's air traffic authorities said Thursday.

A series of reforms will be implemented in five to ten years, creating an independent airspace market under some government guidance, said Zhu Shicai, an official with the state air traffic control commission.

Zhu made the remarks at the 2012 China Low-altitude Economy Summit, which is being held from Aug. 23 to 24 in Shenyang, capital of northeast China's Liaoning Province.

"The new policy suggests that the biggest obstacle facing the opening of China's low-altitude airspace has been cleared," Zhu said.

China has launched pilot projects in its northeastern, southern central regions, as well as seven pilot cities, to open airspace below 1,000 meters to general aviation flights.

The seven pilot cities are Tangshan, Xi'an, Qingdao, Hangzhou, Ningbo,Kunming and Chongqing.

New regulations on airspace planning and operation as well as applications for general aviation flights will be issued this year, simplifying the use of low-altitude airspace, Zhu said.

Further opening the airspace is expected to promote the country's general aviation industry, including the purchase and use of private planes.

China's low-altitude airspace is controlled by the Air Force and the Civil Aviation Administration of China (CAAC). Private flights currently need to go through time-consuming and complicated procedures to fly in low-altitude airspace, which has hampered demand for private jets.

In November 2010, China's State Council and the Central Military Commission jointly released an order to open up part of the country's low-altitude airspace for the first time.

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