Charter market expected to take off as regulations free airspace for private owners

Taiwan is preparing to ease at the end of this year regulations restricting business aircraft operations, prompting two local helicopter operators to plan the acquisition of fixed-wing aircraft.

Taiwan's Civil Aeronautics Administration (CAA) late last year drafted new regulations authorising private ownership of aircraft and the establishment of business aircraft charter operations. Taiwan's small general aviation community expects the new regulations, which are now being reviewed by the CAA's legal department and need to be approved by the legislature, to be implemented by early 2006.

The CAA refuses to register private aircraft, forcing local corporations to register and base their aircraft overseas. The CAA also does not have any regulations governing private charters, but is proposing to allow existing general aviation operators - which now offer medical evacuation, firefighting and photography services - to expand into charters under a system similar to the US FAA's Part 135 regulations.

Sunrise Airlines is already preparing to establish Taiwan's first business jet charter operation with a used Raytheon Hawker 400XP. Sunrise, which now operates four Kawasaki BK117 helicopters, says it will acquire the Hawker in the second half of this year, after it is ensured the new regulations will be implemented. Larger new business jets may be added once a market for VIP charters is more established.

Daily Air, another BK117 operator, also has business aircraft ambitions. The carrier says it is negotiating to acquire four Dornier 228s that will be used for scheduled and charter services, but will later consider adding diesel-powered Britten-Norman Islanders and business jets.

Business aircraft manufacturers for years have been pressing Taiwan to open its airspace to private aircraft. The CAA, after reviewing general aviation operations in other countries, was preparing to draft new regulations in June last year and implement them by the end of 2004 (Flight International, 4-10 May 2004). But the release of the proposed changes was delayed until October. Some manufacturers warn it is still not a sure thing.


Source: Flight International