“It is clear that China is fully dedicated to supporting its overall development with a strong air transport industry. The efforts of the CAAC to implement the State Safety Plan, upgrade systems, open new routes, develop new airports, reduce delays and much more are greatly appreciated by airlines. By 2034, China will be the world’s largest passenger market, with one in five passengers travelling to, from or within China. Adopting global best practices to improve safety and optimize airspace capacity will support the successful development of Chinese aviation,” said Tony Tyler, IATA’s Director General and CEO. Tyler was speaking at the Beijing International Forum on Civil Aviation Safety.
“China has an exemplary safety record. There have been no jet hull losses in Mainland China since August 2010. The combined efforts of the Chinese aviation industry, including government, airlines, airports, air traffic control, and many others have built a first class safety record for China,” said Tyler.
Tyler also highlighted two opportunities to enhance China’s safety regime with (1) audits for airlines not qualified for IOSA and (2) greater attention to the shipping of lithium batteries:
- In Greater China, there are 25 airlines on the IATA Operational Safety Audit (IOSA) registry. IATA just launched the IATA Standard Safety Assessment (ISSA) which caters to operators that are not eligible for an IOSA audit, either because they operate aircraft below the maximum take-off weight of 5,700 kg, or operate a business model that does not conform to IOSA standards, such as private charters. “I encourage the Chinese industry to take advantage of this opportunity to introduce global standards to those airlines not covered by ISOA,” said Tyler.
- Tyler also expressed concern on the safe carriage of lithium batteries. “China is a major production center for lithium batteries. Ensuring the safe carriage of this cargo is a major concern for the Chinese air transport industry. Because of the complex supply chains involved, it is crucial that all stakeholders are aligned,” said Tyler. To support the growth of awareness and knowledge-sharing on this issue in China, IATA has released the new Lithium Battery Shipping Guidelines in Chinese. This document is designed to guide shippers and manufacturers step by step through the shipping process.
Optimizing China’s Airspace
Nearly 70,000 flights operate to, from or within Mainland China every week, about 10% of the global total. “China should be congratulated for managing such a large number of flights. It is a major accomplishment, especially given the complex mix of civil and military concerns involved as well as the phenomenal rate of growth. While there is no question that these flights are being handled with safety as a top priority, flight delays are still a major issue for airlines and their passengers,” said Tyler.
Tyler highlighted five priority areas where further improvements in airspace capacity can be pursued.
- Use existing airspace more efficiently by allowing international flights to use domestic air routes. The ideal situation would be to eliminate distinctions between international and domestic operations, or at least to have all current domestic routes open for international operations.
- Reduce restrictions on entry/exit points and simplify procedures for re-routing requests. This will allow airlines to make the best use of meteorological conditions, such as wind, to fly more efficiently.
- Introduce air traffic flow management. This will improve predictability for flights.
- Maximize the full potential of civil-military cooperation through flexible use of airspace by civil aircraft when it is not being used by the military. More advance notice and alternative routings when military exercises require route closures will also help airlines manage the situation more effectively for their passengers.
- Maximize the potential to be gained in interoperability from the investments made to introduce performance based navigation (PBN) in China. The potential for PBN to allow for route-restructuring and more direct routes has not yet materialized.
“Much progress has been made to improve the efficiency of China’s air traffic management. I appreciate the tremendous challenge just to keep pace with annual growth of 8% or greater. The impressive achievements to date give us confidence that even more improvements are possible,” said Tyler.