China Aviation Law

Taiwan Takes Baby Steps Toward General Aviation


When I first went to Taiwan, I thought it would be like Hong Kong, with private helicopters ferrying from sky scraper to Songshan and around the island. At the very least, I expected to occasionally see some private jet traffic and small aircraft. However, but my expectations were not to be met.

Indeed, it took 4 months before I saw my first helicopter, a military helicopter doing exercises of the coast of Taidong (台东). I often traveled past Songshan airport and I don't think I ever saw a private jet come into that location.

The reason is that Taiwan does not allow private aviation. Between being under martial law for 50 years and the constant conflict with the Mainland, Taiwan has never opened up for private aviation.

The closest they come to GA is microlight aircraft, hang gliders, and para gliders. There is one English language website which covers this scene. .

Unfortunately, today, Taiwan is rather short of airfields. Outside of the major population centers like Gaoxiong, Hualian, Taidong, and the islands, there are very few places that are free to be developed. It is a shame that the government didn't convert the number of airfields that were left over from WWII. Indeed, the central park in Linkou 林口 , was once a US air base.

However, I was heartened by the news this week that Taiwan was starting a charter airline company.

The government-owned Aerospace Industrial Development Corp. (AIDC) flew its maiden flight last Saturday from Taichung City in the interior of the island state to Kinmen Island, off its coast. The company is using Astra SP aircraft it imported in 2000. The company hopes to run both domestic and international charters and has set its sights Hong Kong, Macau, Seoul, Singapore, Tokyo, Bangkok, Ho Chi Minh City and Manila. The big plum in the Taiwanese charter business is behind a geopolitical roadblock.


The prospect of a direct flight from Gaoxiong to Shanghai on a private aircraft is very attractive to Taiwan's growing class Mainland-based businessmen.

This is yet another example in a long list (chartered mainland flights, airmail service, non-Hong Kong diverted flight to Shanghai) of  Taiwanese government actions to normalization of air travel in the next few years.

The Astra SP is the aircraft of choice for the Taiwanese Charter Service. (A bit of an odd choice as there were only 37 ever built)

Posted by Casey DuBose

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