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May 10, 2012

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Home » Metro » Public Services

First airport to gain new role

SHANGHAI will rebuild the Longhua Airport, the city's first airport but which is no longer in use, into a heliport mainly for rescue work, police patrols, urban management and firefighting operations, local authorities said yesterday.

The airport, covering 30,000 square meters in Xuhui District, will include a taxiway, three terminal buildings and a refueling shed, the city's environment authority said yesterday as it began evaluating the environmental impact of the construction.

More than 4,000 helicopters will take off and land at the airport annually by 2020 and fly mainly along the Huangpu River, with about 15 daily takeoffs and landings on peak days, according to a public notice issued by the authority.

"Some VIP clients of companies based in nearby office buildings will be able to take helicopters between Pudong and Hongqiao airports," an official with Xuhui District said yesterday.

The decommissioned airport was originally slated to be turned into a greenbelt within an 8.4-kilometer garden area along the Huangpu River.

The site was initially a military training base for the Northern Warlords government in 1915. It became a military airfield in 1922, when the warlords bought planes from abroad. Longhua became a civil airfield in 1929, eight years after Hongqiao airport opened. It remained a civil airport for domestic flights until 1966, when those flights were moved to Hongqiao.

It then began serving a small number of private planes and helicopters and became a training base for young pilots.

"Shanghai should have five to six general aviation airports with 500 to 600 landing spots and 50 to 60 general aircraft as an international metropolis," said Guo Youhu, a former official with the East China branch of the General Administration of Civil Aviation.

The city so far has a heliport, the Gaodong Airport, which is China's first helicopter base for sea rescue, close to Pudong International Airport.

Shanghai police have begun deploying helicopters to monitor traffic on highways, providing quicker solutions to congestion and hazards on the highways.

The city plans to increase its police helicopter presence by nearly four-fold in the next decade to meet the demand of patrol, first aid and fire fighting on high-rise buildings.


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