China / Society

Relaxed rules give dreams of flying new hope

By Zhao Lei (China Daily) Updated: 2014-02-05 01:00

New opportunities arise

Qian Wei, chairman of the AVIC Flight Academy, welcomed the new rules, saying they will help encourage more people to pursue their dreams of flying.

"My academy rejected a young woman's application even though she was eager to study flying and would have made a good pilot based on her excellent condition," he said.

"The only factor that disqualified her was that she was 2 cm shorter than the required height. It was a shame, but we couldn't do anything to help her."

Fewer than 100 Chinese people are receiving training for private licenses, and the relaxation will unleash a market that has huge potential, Qian said.

Zhong Ning, spokeswoman for the Civil Aviation Administration of China, said only 345 people nationwide have a private pilot's license.

He Chi, vice-president of Capital Helicopter in Beijing, said a private license training course at his company costs about 250,000 to 280,000 yuan and includes 60 hours of classes and 45 hours of flight time.

"Helicopters have become popular among many entrepreneurs who value their time and want to impress their partners by owning a private aircraft," he said. "Also, as far as I know, the course for flying fixed-wing aircraft costs about 200,000 to 250,000 yuan."

He added, "The comparatively high cost for gaining a private pilot's license is not a problem for people who have an interest in flying as well as a lot of money and spare time."

Modern lightweight aircraft incorporate many advanced technologies and have high safety standards so flying them is even easier than driving a car, according to Zhao Tingting, an employee at Xinjiang Tianxiang Aviation College, the only institute that offers private pilot training in the Xinjiang Uygur autonomous region.

"However, flight students must have an array of complicated comprehensive knowledge in areas such as meteorology, radio communication and aircraft technologies."

The relaxation of requirements has made it possible for many young people to realize their dream of landing a job as a commercial pilot, she said.

There have been some commercial aircraft pilots of large airlines who started with private pilot's licenses, said Zhang Juan, an official with CAAC Xinjiang Regional Administration.

She predicts that flight academies will greatly benefit from the fact that more and more young people are beginning to regard private pilot training as a shortcut to the lucrative post of airline captain.

The annual income of a deputy captain at domestic airlines varies around 200,000 yuan, while that of a captain often exceeds 500,000 yuan, according to media reports.

Xinjiang Tianxiang Aviation College offers a packaged curriculum that trains students to be a private aircraft pilot first and then helps them upgrade to a commercial aircraft license, Qu Bailong, head of admissions at the college, said. He added the course costs about 700,000 yuan and lasts 18 months.

However, having a pilot's license is just the first step. Before a private pilot can actually fly, civil aviation and military authorities have to approve the flight.

Then he or she still has to wait for authorization from the military for the use of airspace.

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