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[BEIJING] China's civil aviation authority has promised a major "break through" to open up airspace for small planes, state media said on Wednesday, a move which could boost sales for planemakers such as Bombardier Inc and Textron Inc.
Civil Aviation Administration of China (CAAC) will step up its support for the country's fledgling general aviation industry and work toward loosening restrictions on flying in lower airspace, CAAC chief Li Jiaxiang was quoted as saying by the Shanghai Securities Journal.
The military currently controls about 80 per cent of China's airspace.
In 2010, Beijing issued guidelines which aimed to open up airspace below 1,000 metres (3,280 ft) by 2015 and below 3,000 metres by 2020. The former measure has yet to be enacted.
Three years later, CAAC simplified flight approval procedures for private jets and made it easier to obtain a private pilot licence.
Mr Li said the CAAC has already yielded some aviation controls to regional authorities and is encouraging local governments to build airports for small planes.
Investment in small airports alone could top 100 billion yuan (S$22.24 billion) if each of China's over 2,800 counties each build an airport, he said.
Textron's Cessna Aircraft Company, Embraer SA have already started making jets in China, while General Dynamics' Gulfstream Aerospace Corp, Dassault Aviation SA and Bombardier have been stepping up their sales across the country.