China asks pilots to master low-visibility landing - New York News

China asks pilots to master low-visibility landing

Posted: Updated:

By DIDI TANG

BEIJING (AP) — Chinese aviation authorities will soon require captains of domestic flights into Beijing to master low-visibility landings to combat chronic flight delays that have been worsened by heavy smog.

Beijing Capital International Airport, China's busiest, has the worst record for flight delays of any major international airport, with only 18 percent of flights departing on time, according to travel industry monitor FlightStats. Thick smog has canceled or delayed flights at the Beijing airport when the city's visibility goes down to a few hundred meters (yards) — though officials typically blame the delays on weather conditions rather than pollution.

The new requirement will take effect Jan. 1, an official at the Civil Aviation Administration of China said Thursday. The official, who like many Chinese officials spoke on condition of anonymity, said the new skills would be required of all captains on Beijing-bound flights from China's other major airports, including those in Guangzhou, Shanghai, Chengdu and Shenzhen.

The captains will have to learn to land their aircraft with the assistance of precision auto-landing equipment when visibility falls to 400 meters (1,315 feet). Currently, planes are diverted to other airports when visibility is that low.

"The administration is promoting the technology to reduce the impact on flights by severe natural conditions," the aviation official said, adding that it will be up to the airlines to decide whether to use auto-landing in low visibility.

Auto-landing allows a plane to land automatically with the supervision of a human crew. Experts say that the technology improves aviation safety, but that it requires additional pilot training to supervise the precision hardware both onboard and on the ground. The system is geared for three levels of visibility: 800 meters (half a mile), 400 meters and zero visibility.

The new requirement will apply only to domestic flights because China doesn't have authority over the qualifications of foreign airlines' pilots.

Many foreign airlines, however, have already been using auto-landing at major Chinese airports equipped with the proper instruments. The Beijing airport, which did not immediately respond to interview requests, is equipped with high-level auto-landing instruments.

Chinese airlines also have fleets of aircraft capable of auto-landing. But aviation authorities previously did not require Chinese pilots to be trained for low-visibility auto-landing because of hefty training costs, said Shu Ping, dean of aviation safety at China Academy of Civil Aviation Science and Technology.

"The training is very expensive, and the low visibility was not a normal condition," Shu said. "Now with more smoggy days, the probability of landing with low visibility is higher."

The Beijing airport's chronic delays are due to an assortment of factors, including a narrow air corridor for commercial aviation because of the powerful military's tight control over airspace. China's wide-ranging weather patterns — including fog, snow and sandstorms — also play a role, as does Beijing's severe pollution.

An annual report says weather conditions caused more than 20 percent of the flight delays last year in China, though it does not elaborate on how many were attributed to air pollution.

Copyright 2013 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

  • Local NewsLocal NewsMore>>

  • Prison officers block news crew from tourist site

    Prison officers block news crew from tourist site

    Friday, July 25 2014 12:35 PM EDT2014-07-25 16:35:36 GMT
    New York State NewsNew York State News
    An upstate New York TV crew was threatened with arrest by corrections officers as they filmed at a public historic site on the grounds of an empty, soon-to-be-closed state prison.
    An upstate New York TV crew was threatened with arrest by corrections officers as they filmed at a public historic site on the grounds of an empty, soon-to-be-closed state prison.
  • The Big Idea

    Making New York City more energy efficient

    Making New York City more energy efficient

    Friday, July 25 2014 12:32 PM EDT2014-07-25 16:32:18 GMT
    More than half the population of New York City rides public transportation to work. No other metropolis in this country even approaches that percentage or the MTA's total number of riders. For that reason, New York likely ranks as the most energy-efficient city in the nation. But what would it take to make the city even more energy-efficient or even self-sufficient?
    More than half the population of New York City rides public transportation to work. No other metropolis in this country even approaches that percentage or the MTA's total number of riders. For that reason, New York likely ranks as the most energy-efficient city in the nation. But what would it take to make the city even more energy-efficient or even self-sufficient?
  • G subway line shutting down for 5 weeks

    G subway line shutting down for 5 weeks

    Friday, July 25 2014 9:02 AM EDT2014-07-25 13:02:01 GMT
    Beginning Friday night, a portion of the G subway line that connects Brooklyn and Queens will be shut down for five weeks.
    Beginning Friday night, a portion of the G subway line that connects Brooklyn and Queens will be shut down for five weeks.
Powered by WorldNow
Didn't find what you were looking for?
All content © Copyright 2000 - 2014 Fox Television Stations, Inc. and Worldnow. All Rights Reserved.
Privacy Policy | Terms of Service | Ad Choices