No-fly-zone imposed on capital for two sessions

Updated: 2012-03-01 08:01

By Cao yin (China Daily)

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BEIJING - Small aircraft will be banned from flying over Beijing for two weeks from this weekend to increase security during the two sessions.

The aircraft, including helicopters, gliders and manned balloons, will be forbidden from flying in the capital's airspace from March 2 to 15, when the National People's Congress and Chinese People's Political Consultative Conference are held.

Announcing the measure on Wednesday, Zuo Baoshuan, deputy director of the management corps with the Beijing municipal public security bureau, said that the 2,134 registered small aircraft in the city cannot be flown within 200 km of Tian'anmen Square during this time.

No-fly-zone imposed on capital for two sessions

A police officer checks a small aircraft at a club in Beiijing's Changping district on Wednesday. [Cui Meng / China Daily]

"All private aircraft operators are required to stop flying or training, and various ceremonies or sales promotions that use small aircraft are banned," Zuo said, urging people to call the police if they suspect anyone of contravening the ban.

On Wednesday morning, about 10 police officers went to the country's first private aircraft club, established in 1987 in the city's northern Changping district, and temporarily sealed its hangar.

Zuo also asked the club to remove propellers and engines from their aircraft.

"We have signed an agreement with pilots who leave their private aircraft there, and emptied fuel from the aircraft," said Yang Youming, a spokesman for the club, adding they will put extra security on the hangar.

Previously, small aircraft were also grounded on important holidays, such as National Day, and during the Olympic Games in 2008, Yang said.

Every amateur pilot must gain permission from the national air traffic management department before they can fly, so they do not affect regular commercial flights, Yang said. He added the maximum altitude allowed for amateur flights is 300 meters.

Hu Yingjian, a flying instructor at the club, was dismantling an engine from a small plane when the ban was announced.

"We'll also close our runway in the next two weeks and remove storage batteries from aircraft with electric drives," said Hu, who supports the security measures.

However, Wang Hongjun, director of the public order research office at the Chinese People's Public Security University, said that small aircraft in general needed stricter regulation in the future.

"Some people have big remote-control aircraft, but they haven't registered them with the authorities, and this is a big challenge for government departments to deal with," Wang said.

"Low-altitude flying can bring more danger to pilots and public safety, and the aircraft may also become targets for people with bad intentions," he said.