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October 27, 2011

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Open airspace, tighter security

SHANGHAI may open its low-altitude airspace to the growing number of privately owned light aircraft, a police official said yesterday.

However, the city would also introduce tough regulations and stringent supervision to prevent fliers straying into prohibited areas, posing safety threats to civilian flights, said Zhang Xuebing, director of Shanghai police.

Zhang said the city government had begun preparations that could lead to the opening of the city's low-altitude airspace to privately owned aircraft, including helicopters and paragliders.

"Feasibility studies are under way as the government has noted the booming market in privately owned light aircraft," Zhang said.

But if low-altitude airspace is opened up in future, for safety reasons, private aircraft will still be banned in certain areas, such as around airports.

Officials said there has been an increase of numbers of unauthorized private aircraft in local airspace in recent years

On September 1, a fighter jet and two police helicopters scrambled to intercept aircraft detected over the coast in Fengxian District.

The errant fliers turned out to be three paragliders.

Police detained two other paragliders on the ground preparing to take off, said Xu Haiqing, a government official, yesterday.

In the end, nine paragliders were found. Their unauthorized actions delayed 39 flights, said officials.

Zhang said there are now only four police helicopters in service in Shanghai.


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