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China pilots to open low sky for general aviation
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China's aviation regulator has approved a pilot scheme for the country's first general aviation industrial park in northwest China's Shaanxi Province, local sources said Friday.

The Civil Aviation Administration of China has given approval for the Pucheng industrial park in Xi'an, capital of Shaanxi, to open low-altitude airspace for general aviation between an airport and more than five scenic spots.

Aircraft will carry visitors to tour the scenic spots in 2010, said Jin Qiansheng, head of Xi'an Yanliang national aviation hi-tech industrial base. But he gave no exact timetable.

The park will also pilot management policies for general aviation airports, and also pilot their subsidies.

Jin said the pilot grogram could spark policy changes for flying at low altitudes and give a strong boost to the general aviation market in China.

Low altitude usually refers to airspace below 3,000 meters. General aviation refers to flights other than military and scheduled airline flights.

China had only 898 registered utility aircraft by the end of 2008 while the number in the United States is more than 220,000, according to Sun Cong, former head of Shenyang aircraft design and research institute.

Sun advised in March that the government gradually open the low-altitude airspace to meet rising demand for general aviation in fields like disaster relief, exploration and business trips.

China only allows civilian aircraft to fly at certain levels within an altitude of 8,400 to 12,500 meters.

(Xinhua News Agency August 22, 2009)

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