ZHUHAI, Nov. 13 (Xinhua) -- China will carry out reforms next year to further open up low-altitude airspace to private airplanes with communication and surveillance facilities already built to ensure flight safety.
The announcement was made by Ma Xin, an official with the state air traffic control commission, at the 9th China International Aviation and Aerospace Exhibition that opened on Tuesday. The six-day event, in the southern city of Zhuhai in Guangdong Province, is attended by nearly 650 companies from 39 countries and regions.
Communication and surveilance facilities aimed to ensure low-altitude flight safety have been constructed in major districts of Changchun and Guangzhou and on the Hainan Island, according to Ma.
Four general aviation flight service stations have also been put to use in Shenyang, Shenzhen, Hainan and Zhuhai to provide maintenance service.
New regulations on airspace planning and operation as well as applications for general aviation flights are expected to be issued before the end of the year.
"We're overhauling a series of regulations on airspace management to simplify the application procedures," Ma said.
"As the reforms forge ahead, we believe the general aviation industry will gain momentum and become a new growth point just like the car industry," he said.
Pilot projects have been launched in China's northeastern and central-southern regions, as well as seven cities, including Tangshan near Beijing, Xi'an, Qingdao, Hangzhou, Ningbo, Kunming and Chongqing, where airspace below 1,000 meters is open to general aviation flights.
China had about 1,198 aircraft used for general aviation purposes as of the end of last year.
Opening the airspace is expected to promote China's general aviation industry, including the purchase and use of private planes. There is potential for market growth in this area but it has been impeded by the country's restrictions on airspace use.
In November 2010, the State Council and the Central Military Commission jointly decided to open up part of the country's low-altitude airspace for the first time.
By 2020, the country will need 10,000 to 12,000 general aviation aircraft, according to China's civil aviation authorities. Related industries will form a market valued at about one trillion yuan.