Chinese officials visit AOPA, take flight

July 17, 2009

Image 147 Click the image above to view a slideshow.

Image 147 Image 148 Image 149 Image 150 Image 151 Image 151

Eleven delegates from the Civil Aviation Administration of China (CAAC), their interpreter, and other guests visited AOPA headquarters in Frederick, Md., on July 16 as part of a 12-day trip to research general aviation in the United States. A high point for the group, charged with developing general aviation in China, came when the delegates got to fly in GA airplanes—for many, it was their first opportunity to do so.

“It was fantastic,” said Xin Li, an assistant in CAAC’s Reform and Restructuring Office, wearing a wide smile after his flight in the AOPA Let’s Go Flying Sweepstakes Cirrus SR22. The local flight from Frederick Municipal Airport included an opportunity to fly the airplane, something he said he had never done before. “I never dreamed that flying would be so easy,” he exclaimed.

“He flew the whole time,” said J.J. Greenway, chief flight instructor for the AOPA Air Safety Foundation. “I had to take [the controls] away from him.”

The smile on the face of Junhao Jin, deputy director of CAAC’s Reform and Restructuring Office, was just as broad. “This gentleman let me try to fly,” he said, proudly pointing to the flight instructor he had flown with. “Flying is not difficult. And it was so clear!”

CAAC wants to significantly increase the numbers of GA pilots and airports in China. Its visiting delegates are responsible for determining what policies, laws, and regulations in China should be changed to help develop the GA sector. During their visit, the delegation was briefed by AOPA staff on a variety of relevant issues.

Craig Spence, AOPA vice president of regulatory affairs, discussed GA and the regulatory process. Other AOPA and Air Safety Foundation staff members talked about aircraft, airports and their importance to GA, airspace, air traffic, and safety as the foundation of an aviation system. A presentation on General Aviation Serves America emphasized GA’s contributions to American society and local economies.