China amends aviation code; more flights over airports allowed

China has amended its aviation code for commercial aircraft. The country will now allow more flights in the holding spaces above airports. The amendments to the airspace restrictions meant the vertical separation between flights would be halved.

The Air Traffic Control Commission, which comes under the Central Military Commission of the Communist Party of China (CPC) has said the airspace between altitude of 8,400 and 12,500 metres, mostly used by civilian flights, used to be divided into seven vertical bands, each 600 meters high. Under the amended code, the number increases to 13, each 300 meters high.

This would allow more aircraft to fly at the same time, increasing the efficiency of air traffic and easing flight delays. "It is also one of our efforts to come in line with international practice," the commission''s press release said.

Except Russia, Mongolia, the Democratic People''s Republic of Korea and some African nations, most countries have already moved to the new norms. The amended code will take effect on 22 November.

Chinese airlines operated 1,336 scheduled routes - 1,068 domestic and 268 international routes - at the end of 2006. The number is expected to increase rapidly. There are a rising number of complaints about chronic delays, especially at busy airports like Beijing and Shanghai.