China Aviation Law

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:

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)


China designates low-altitude airspace for general aviation 国务院 中央军委关于深化我国低空空域管理改革的意见


The state of private aviation in China is nothing like private aviation in the United States. If you are able to get your hands on a Cessna in China will not be able to do much flying. All flights must be on filed IFR flight plans and all flight must be pre-approved by the ATC. The result is that there is essentially no general aviation market outside of commercial training for the airlines.

This news is the first crack in the right direction for general aviation. The CAAC will start designating certain low-altitude general aviation corridors. The general aviation airspace will be restricted to below 1000 meters (about 3300 feet). There is no detail as when or how this will be implemented. Indeed, while it is a nice push in the right direction, these rules will not likely see much of an effect on general aviation as there is little air in china that is VFR and conflicting rules as how to use this soon to be designated space.

With the number of unmarked towers, guy wires and general pollution in that altitude range. I will be in no hurry to use the corridor.

That said, GA is expected to continue to grow in China. Indeed, the CAAC expects rapid growth in the next few years.

The Civil Aviation Administration of China (CAAC) expects that the market size of general aviation, including related industries, may reach one trillion yuan ($151 billion) after the low-altitude airspace opens, according to a Xinhua report.

An official surnamed Zhang with the China Aviation Industry Corp II(AVIC II)told the Global Times that China's huge potential demand for helicopters and light planes – from government agencies and the growing billionaires' club – has already become a reality in recent years, spurring the country to lift its long-standing restriction on the use of airspace below 3,000 meters.

“The strict control of low-altitude airspace has long been regarded as a bottleneck in the country's aviation development; now it is a good way to boost the national aviation industry as it can spur the potential domestic aviation consumption and lure more investment into the industry,” Zhang said.

In addition, the reform will also lead to more people acquiring a private pilot license, either billionaires who own a helicopter or people employed by the private commercial airplanes leasing company, an official surnamed Li with China Civil Aviation Flight University told reporters.

But it is certainly still very expensive to have a private plane, as it costs 160,000 yuan ($22,857) to obtain a private pilot’s license in China after a strict physical examination and a series of theory classes and practice training. The fee for flight membership is 300,000 yuan ($42,857) per 100 hours, and the maintenance of the aircraft costs 5 percent of its price per 200 flight hours.

Industry insider Yang Ruoyi told the Global Times that the reform still faces challenges, such as the lack of laws to standardize low-altitude flying and underdeveloped equipment for air traffic supervision.

“A real opening of the low-altitude airspace requires a series of other regulations concerning the authorization of flights and control of purchase of private planes,” he said

Source: Low-altitude Airspace Management Reform Guidance

Main Text of the Promulgation After the Jump: