Private jet sales in China are increasing, but the legislation governing air space isn’t very accommodating. Historically, Chinese airspace below 30,000 feet has been controlled by the military, which isn’t ready to loosen its grip.
There are also other rules and regulations keeping free-flying owners in check: they have to possess a pilot license, a license from the Civial Aviation Administration of China to prove that the plane is airworthy, and the flight plan has to be approved by the military and civil aviation administration.
Peter Harbison, executive chairman of the Centre for Asia Pacific Aviation, had this to say in an e-mail:
The lawyers maintain that the most important thing in Chinese aviation is to have a single law. The military – which has considerable influence as you might imagine – are most reluctant to relinquish their separate legislation and to fall under a common regime.
This creates a major hindrance to evolution of the system (ATC [air traffic control], common airworthiness standards, etc). It apparently is particularly harmful to the development of the GA [general aviation] area where private aircraft – notably jets – are hardly welcomed.
Yang Xiaonong, a private plane consultant, estimates that only 30 private planes are registered in China. Most data puts the total number of private planes in China at 100.
Other owners are evidently not letting a lack of legislation get in their way. Three individuals were “punished” after their planes were detected flying illegally in Zhejiang province, state media reported. The “UFO” that shut down the Hangzhou Xiaoshan International Airport for a few hours on July 7 was eventually determined to be a private plane. Others are just claiming ignorance:
Xu Weijie, a businessman from Wenzhou of eastern Zhejiang Province, owns 11 private jets, and has flown them several times illegally in the Chinese mainland.
"There is no special regulation on private jets in China. I bought the planes, and I have the right to fly them," Xu said.
However, by most accounts, a new aviation law will be drawn up by October. That’s good news for those who are keen to see the market take wing.
China’s first private business and private jet expo, the 2010 China Shanghai Jet Expo will be held August 13-15 at Hongqiao Airport. The event has been organized by British event organizer CELINK and China Eastern Airline Executive Air, and is supported by the China Council for the Promotion of International Trade and the Asia Business Aviation Association.