Nation faces challenges of infrastructure and staff shortages as it tries to get to grips with rapid air transport growth

China is to introduce a safety management system as it strives to cope with continued rapid growth of its air transport system. A pilot programme is under way with Hainan Airlines to further develop the regulations, Civil Aviation Administration of China (CAAC) minister Yang Yuanyuan told delegates last week at the US Federal Aviation Administration’s second annual international safety forum in Washington DC.

Yang said China faces “enormous challenges” in meeting the growing demand for air travel, but has made “substantial progress” in establishing an aviation safety regulatory system. Challenges include a “human resource inadequacy” that must be addressed, he said, to meet the demands associated with the planned addition of 680 aircraft into the country’s fleet between 2006 and 2010.

There are 18,000 qualified maintenance engineers currently in China, “and the inadequacy will get serious”, Yang said. There are 3,500 air traffic controllers, and another 3,600 must be trained and added by 2010. China needs 8,000-10,000 new pilots, he said, but its flight schools only have the capacity to produce 1,000. “The inadequacy is more serious in CAAC’s regulatory department,” he said, predicting a shortage in qualified staff unless investment in personnel training is increased.

Yang also highlighted China’s infrastructure problems, noting that 29 airports in the country will reach saturation point by the end of 2010. “Delays due to flow control doubled in 2004,” he said. China must “continue to invest in airport facilities” and enforce flight limitations at saturated airports, he said.

China also continues to make efforts towards establishing an aviation safety management system, and is working on “perfecting [its] system of aviation regulation”, said Yang. However, joint efforts are needed to meet the challenge of transitioning to a new regulatory structure with effective government oversight and a corporate safety culture, he said.

“We need to enhance co-operation. The CAAC will have better co-operation with ICAO and other organisations in other countries,” he said. Signing a new bilateral aviation safety agreement between China and the USA at the forum, FAA administrator Marion Blakey said the US regulator plans to help the CAAC “meet the challenges of the system” outlined by Yang.


Source: Flight International