China Aviation Law

Cathay Pacific gets first Boeing 747-8 Freighter

I took a tour of the Boeing factory a couple of weeks ago and was amazed at the number of Chinese aircraft I saw on the ramp.


I also saw this beauty waiting for delivery to Hong Kong. Since I couldn't bring a camera, this shot is from the delivery flight.

“We are pleased to take delivery of this excellent new freighter, which will be a perfect addition to the Cathay Pacific cargo fleet,” John Slosar, CEO of the Hong Kong-based airline, said in a news release. “The B747-8F will help us further strengthen Hong Kong’s position as the world’s leading international air cargo hub. We look forward to the efficiency and environmental benefits that we expect to realize with this great new airplane.”


When I lived in Shenzhen, I could see the Hong Kong airport from across the bay. I was amazed at the traffic that came into that airport. It was constant and it was almost always heavies like the 747. If you ever get over there, I suggest you spend some time and just hang out that airport. :-)

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Aviation Case Law Update for 2011


*** So, this is what has been taking me away from the blog for the last month, I have been putting together this presentation for a conference. I made the presentation last week without a hitch. I hope you enjoy the materials. I am still working on how to upload the slides.***

Aviation Case Law Update

Presented at the 38th Annual Pacific Northwest Aviation Law and Insurance Seminar1

September 16, 2011

 Casey DuBose is a third-year student at Seattle University School of Law, where he is the Business Editor for the Seattle Journal of Environmental Law. He is currently serving as a Law Clerk extern to the Honorable John C. Coughenour at the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Washington. He is a commercial pilot and flight instructor in single-engine aircraft. Upon graduation, he hopes to pursue a career that melds his three great interests - Chinese, Aviation, and Law. Prior to attending law school, Casey earned a B.A. in Philosophy from Brigham Young University with a minor in Mandarin Chinese. He also worked as a flight instructor and charter pilot at the Diamond Flight Center in Spanish Fork, Utah.

More information about Casey may be found at


Table of Cases

Air Carrier Access Act 
Mesaba Aviation, Inc Violations of 14 CFR Part 382, 2011 WL 1344611 
Summers v. Delta Airlines, Inc., 10-CV-05730-LHK, 2011 WL 1299360 (N.D. Cal. Apr. 4, 2011) 
Airline Deregulation Act 
In re Korean Air Lines Co., Ltd., 642 F.3d 685 (9th Cir. 2011) 
DiFiore v. Am. Airlines, Inc., 646 F.3d 81 (1st Cir. 2011) 
Trishan Air, Inc. v. Fed. Ins. Co., 635 F.3d 422 (9th Cir. 2011) 
Federal Preemption 
US Airways, Inc. v. O'Donnell, 627 F.3d 1318 (10th Cir. 2010) 
Sikkelee v. Precision Airmotive Corp., 731 F. Supp. 2d 429 (M.D. Pa. 2010) 
Montreal Convention
Chubb Ins. Co. of Europe S.A. v. Menlo Worldwide Forwarding, Inc., 634 F.3d 1023 (9th Cir. 2011) cert. denied 
Eli Lilly & Co. v. Air Exp. Int'l USA, Inc., 615 F.3d 1305 (11th Cir. 2010) 
Phifer v. Icelandair, 09-56858, 2011 WL 3076393 (9th Cir. July 26, 2011) 
Forum Non Conveniens 
Delta Air Lines, Inc. v. Chimet, S.p.A., 619 F.3d 288 (3d Cir. 2010) 
Death on the High Seas Act 
Helman v. Alcoa Global Fasteners, Inc., 637 F.3d 986 (9th Cir. 2011) 
Pilot Certification and Regulation 
Manin v. Nat'l Transp. Safety Bd., 627 F.3d 1239 (D.C. Cir. 2011) 
Dickson v. Nat'l Transp. Safety Bd., 639 F.3d 539 (D.C. Cir. 2011) 
Avia Dynamics, Inc. v. F.A.A., 641 F.3d 515 (D.C. Cir. 2011) 
FAA Regulation of Airports 
City of Santa Monica v. F.A.A., 631 F.3d 550, 551 (D.C. Cir. 2011) 
Barnes v. U.S. Dep't of Transp., 10-70718, 2011 WL 3715694 (9th Cir. Aug. 25, 2011) 
Casciani v. Nesbitt, 392 F. App'x. 887 (2d Cir. 2010) cert. denied 
Government Contractor Defense 
Rodriguez v. Lockheed Martin Corp., 627 F.3d 1259 (9th Cir. 2010) 
Getz v. The Boeing Co., 10-15284, 2011 WL 3275957 (9th Cir. Aug. 2, 2011) 
Federal Tort Claims Act 
LeGrande v. United States, 774 F. Supp. 2d 910 (N.D. Ill. 2011) 
Turner v. United States, 736 F. Supp. 2d 980 (M.D.N.C. 2010) 
General Aviation Revitalization Act 
Burton v. Twin Commander Aircraft LLC, 171 Wash. 2d 204, 254 P.3d 778 (2011) 
Crouch v. Honeywell Int'l, Inc., 3:07-CV-638-S, 2010 WL 4449222 (W.D. Ky. Nov. 1, 2010) 
Duty to Warn 
Otoski v. Avidyne Corporation, 2010 WL Otoski v. Avidyne Corp., (D. Or. Oct. 6, 2010)
Glorvigen v. Cirrus Design Corp., 796 N.W.2d 541 (Minn. Ct. App. 2011) 
Isakson v. WSI Corp., 771 F. Supp. 2d 1257 (W.D. Wash. 2011) 
Notable Airline Crashes 
Turkish Airlines Crash 
Koral v. Boeing Co., 628 F.3d 945 (7th Cir. 2011) 
Air France Crash 
In re Air Crash Over Mid-Atl. on June 1, 2009, 760 F. Supp. 2d 832 (N.D. Cal. 2010) 
Spanair Crash 
In re Air Crash at Madrid, Spain, on August 20, 2008, 2:10-ML-02135 GAF, 2011 WL 1058452 (C.D. Cal. Mar. 22, 2011). 
Flight Options, LLC v. State, Dept. of Revenue, 84207-8, 2011 WL 3717001 (Wash. Aug. 25, 2011) 26
Interesting Cases 
Azpitarte v. King County, C10-1186Z, 2011 WL 2518916 (W.D. Wash. June 23, 2011) 
Nat'l Air Traffic Controllers Ass'n v. Sec'y of Dept. of Transp., 10-3171, 2011 WL 3569957 (6th Cir. Aug. 16, 2011) 
United States v. Armstrong, 397 F. App'x. 466 (10th Cir. 2010) 


Check out the details of each case after the break!








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General Aviation Sections of the Civil Aviation Law of the PRC – 中国的通用航空法律

I am starting something new with this blog. I will start to review many of the laws that govern aviation the PRC. Today, I start with my most requested section of aviation law.

The civil aviation law was enacted by the People's Congress on October 30, 1995. It is the basic legal framework for civil aviation activities, aviation administrative regulations, and civil aviation rules. The Civil Aviation Law can be downloaded in its entirety from

The General Aviation Sections of the Civil Aviation Law are sections 145 - 150. The section of the law is rather short, but it gives some broad definitions about general aviation and its application in China. It is basically a policy statement for what China wants general aviation to be. For more specific guidance, we will need to dive into the administrative regulations, but for this post I want to highlight some of themes you can pull from this law. First, that the definitions limit general aviation to what a US pilot would consider commercial aviation with small aircraft and second, that the law requires third party liability insurance.

This is general aviation in China for now.


China has a very narrow definition of general aviation and this definition does not include joyrides.

"General aviation" means civil aviation operations other than public air transport with civil aircraft, including aerial work in the fields of industry, agriculture, forestry, fishery and building industry, and flight operations in the fields of medical and health work, emergency and disaster relief, meteorological service, ocean monitoring, scientific experiment, education and training, culture and sports.

Notice that this list does not include recreation. Instead, flights that are classified as general aviation are limited to specific purposes. This is an interesting contrast to the regulations in the US which do not specifically define general aviation, but rather define the limitations to general aviation like commercial carriage and interstate air commerce.

This limiting definition is one of the reasons that we have not seen much development general aviation outside of flight training and charter aviation. As it stands, there is no flying for flying sake in China. Indeed, if you look at the list of required documents to be carried during a flight, it requires that you have a passenger manifest with destination information.

Article 90:

Civil aircraft on flight duty should carry the following documents:
(1) Certificate of nationality registration of the aircraft.
(2) Certificate of airworthiness of the aircraft.
(3) Relevant licenses of flight crew members.
(4) Aerolog of the aircraft.
(5) License of the radio equipment on the aircraft.
(6) Name list of the passengers on the aircraft with their places of departure and destination.
(7) Warehouse receipts and detailed declaration forms of the cargoes on the aircraft.
(8) Other documents relevant to flight duty.
CAA or local civil aviation control offices with CAA authorization can forbid the taking off of aircraft which fail to carry the documents listed above.

Flight Safety and Liability Insurance

The next provisions (146-148) of the regulation are straight forward enough they require registration, licensed pilots, and flight safety certification.

Chinese General Aviation is also flight training - Remember don't extend your downwind past no-engine glide range.

Finally, provisions 149 - 150 provide interesting language.

Article 149 In organizing and carrying out aerial work, effective measures shall be taken to ensure flight safety, protect environment and ecological balance and prevent damage to be caused to environment, residents, crops or livestock.
Article 150 Those engaged in general aviation operations shall be covered by insurance against liability for third parties on the surface.

While many US GA insurance policies cover damage to the aircraft and some liability for damage to property on the ground, the FARs do not require that a GA owner have insurance. Nevertheless, the Chinese law requires that GA pilots obtain coverage for liability to third parties on the ground. This is another hurdle to the development of recreational general aviation because of the costs associated with liability insurance. I know plenty of US pilots that choose to fly with limited or no insurance because it is too expensive to maintain. I can only imagine the costs that would come from adding liability insurance to cover damage to third parties on the ground.

Full Text of the Law in Chinese and English after the Break:

Chinese Aviation Execs Violate US Arms Embargo

For want of a pROM chip, aerospace execs went to jail.

Last September, two Chinese nationals were arrested in Hungary and transferred to US custody in April. They were charged with conspiring to violate the Arms Export Control Act and to smuggle goods from the U.S., and the attempted export of munitions in violation of the act.

Hong Wei Xian, 32, and Li Li, 33, both from the PRC, were charged in a two-count indictment accusing them of conspiring to violate the Arms Export Control Act and to smuggle goods from the United States and the attempted export of U.S. Munitions List items in violation of the Arms Export Control Act.

According to the indictment, Xian is the president of Beijing Starcreates Space Science and Technology Development Company Limited, and Li is the company’s vice president. Among other things, Beijing Starcreates engages in the business of importing and selling programmable read-only memory microchips to China Aerospace Science and Technology Corporation, which is controlled by the PRC government and plays a substantial role in the research, design, development and production of strategic and tactical missile systems and launch vehicles for the PRC.


Since 1990, the U.S. government has maintained an arms embargo against the PRC that prohibits the export, re-export, or re-transfer of any defense article to the PRC. Prohibited defense articles are placed on the U.S. Munitions List, which includes spacecraft systems and associated equipment. A programmable read-only memory microchip (PROM) serves to store the initial start-up program for a computer system and is built to withstand the conditions present in outer space.

According to the indictment, neither Xian nor Li applied for nor received a license from the United States to export defense articles of any description; however, from April 2009 to Sept. 1, 2010, the two are charged with contacting a company in the Eastern District of Virginia and seeking to export thousands of radiation-hardened PROMs from that company.

The indictment states that Xian and Li knew a license was required, but did not seek to obtain one because it was difficult, time-consuming, and would require them to identify the end user and describe the end use. They are accused of conspiring to break up orders into multiple shipments and designate countries outside of the PRC for delivery to avoid drawing attention to the orders.

On Sept. 1, 2010, the defendants were arrested in Hungary pursuant to a U.S. provisional arrest warrant and were transferred into the custody of U.S. Marshals on April 1, 2011, after they waived extradition. They arrived in the Eastern District of Virginia late April 1, 2011.


Analysis and Source Documents after the Break.


China’s UAV Helicopter – 中国的无人直升机

China tested an unmanned helicopter this last week. It is claimed to be the largest unmanned helicopter in production. It debuted at the Hainan airshow earlier this year, but this is the first test flight.

On Saturday, the largest unmanned helicopter built in China to date made its first flight in Weifang City of east China’s Shandong Province.  With a max take-off weight of 757kg, it flew from the flight-test center of Weifang Tianxiang Aerospace Industry Co.Ltd, hovering for ten minutes, before performing a few manoeuvres before concluding with a stable landing.


As a private pilot in the US, I have always had a lingering fear of unmanned aircraft. I don't know how effective the UAVs are at seeing other aircraft the sky. Often I am flying in areas where there is neither radar nor ATC coverage. The only thing that is keeping me separated from other aircraft are my two eyeballs. I hope that unmanned operators are staying as vigilant as I am at scanning for traffic, but I think they inherently will be less vigilant.

This thing looks small, but it has the wingspan of a 737. My Cessna 140's wingspan wouldn't even cover half of its length.

First, there is a limited visibility on a UAV. Second, the operator's life is not on the line if he crashes, the operator cannot feel the aircraft and does not gain the heightened awareness that comes from being in the aircraft in lower visibility conditions. Finally, when the link is cut the aircraft there is no way to avoid a collision. UAVs are designed with a failsafe that puts them in a holding patter if their link is cut, however, they still do not have the technology to avoid an aircraft in a failsafe condition.

Fortunately, UAV trials in the United States have been very limited and restricted to areas with little to no aircraft activity. The FAA has been very conservative in allowing trials of UAVs. Nevertheless, there have been instances of state and local police agencies using UAVs without FAA approval.
Near Miss over Kabul

Look at this amazing near miss between a military UAV and a commercial airliner in Afghanistan.

Without the general aviation traffic in China that we see in the united states, there is not nearly as large a risk of collision. But, I hope that the CAAC will limit these trials until the technology has been better tested and tried.