Chinese authorities are working on new regulations that will facilitate the transfer of the airspace from military control to national (civil) control and enable the further liberalization of lower altitudes. Sun Weiguo, deputy secretary general of the China Air Transportation Association General Aviation Branch, outlined the goals of the government during an ABACE session on Open Skies yesterday.
Anticipated by year-end, the regulations are expected to provide a pathway to complete the transfer by 2020, along with setting more detailed plans for freeing up more of the airspace, Weiguo said.
The transfer is the third step of a plan set in motion more than two decades ago, but has stumbled as the Civil Aviation Administration of China (CAAC) and the military had differing approaches to managing the airspace, he said. The first two steps, involving the transfer of management of major trunk routes to the CAAC, have been largely accomplished.
The airspace has been developed in a fragmented fashion, with the majority being designated for military use and without the typical classifications that are found globally, according to Weiguo. As a result, approvals for us have been necessary for any part of the airspace. However, the new regulations will outline classifications which, in theory, will enable the development of airspace that does not require prior approval for use, he said.
A number of issues must still be worked through, and he pointed out that the key to all of this is the military and CAAC coming to a mutual airspace agreement. But progress is being made, with steps such as airspace optimization management pilot projects in the central and southern regions that could serve as a template for other regions of China. Also, the state consulate has developed a plan for general aviation operations, Weiguo said.