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: