In mainland China, the Civil Aviation Law (CAL) is the main law regarding civil aviation. The CAL was issued by the Standing Committee of the National People's Congress and came into effect on 1 March 1996, and has a general binding force. All 214 articles of the CAL are categorised in 16 chapters.
Other laws, such as the General Principles of the Civil Law, the Contract Law, the Corporate Law, the Tort Liability Law and the Criminal Law, as well as administrative regulations by the State Council and ministerial regulations by ministries and commissions of the State Council, are also important rules to which the civil aviation activities shall be subject.
The aforementioned normative laws and regulations together constitute China's civil aviation legal system. Specific stipulations are as follows.
i The market access
China's domestic investment can go towards areas such as public air transportation, general aviation (GA), civil airports and air traffic management systems. As with some sectors, aviation enterprises shall be wholly state-owned or state-controlled. For example, Air China, China Southern Airlines and China Eastern Airlines shall always remain wholly state-owned or state-controlled.
Foreign investments shall comply with Chinese laws and regulations as well as rules and policies established by related ministries and commissions of the central government, such as Provisions Guiding Foreign Investment Direction published by the State Council on 1 April 2002 and Catalogue of Industries for Guiding Foreign Investment, published by the Ministry of Commerce (MOFCOM) on 22 April 2015 (the Catalogue, which may be amended from time to time). According to the Catalogue, all the industries are divided into three categories in which foreign investment is encouraged, restricted or prohibited. Industries that are not categorised as encouraged, restricted or prohibited are permitted projects. Permitted industries are not listed under the Catalogue. The categories are as follows:
- a Catalogue of Industries in which foreign investment is encouraged: such as construction and operation of civil airports (with Chinese parties holding a relative majority of the shares), air transportation companies (with Chinese parties as the controlling shareholders, and a single foreign investor and its affiliates holding no more than 25 per cent of the equity), and general aviation companies in relation to agriculture, forestry, and fishery (limited to Sino-foreign equity/cooperation joint venture operations), and design, manufacture and maintenance of civil aircrafts: aircrafts for trunk lines, regional aircraft (with Chinese parties as the controlling shareholders), and general aviation aircraft (limited to Sino-foreign equity/cooperative joint venture operations), and manufacture and maintenance of civil aircraft parts and components.
- b Catalogue of Industries in which foreign investment is restricted: such as general aviation companies in relation to business flights, air tours, photography, prospecting and industrial purposes (with Chinese parties as the controlling shareholders).
- c Catalogue of Industries in which foreign investment is prohibited: such as air traffic control.
Moreover, to set up a civil aviation transport enterprise in China, including public and general aviation transport enterprises, the air operator's certificate (AOC) shall be obtained from the Civil Aviation Administration of China (CAAC) before application for the business registration. In addition, based on the overall economic situation of China's civil aviation industry, the CAAC would promulgate regulatory measures over the market access for a certain period of time, controlling the number of newly established aviation enterprises by raising more specific requirements.
The Interim Measures over Civil Aviation Slots Management promulgated by the CAAC on 1 September 2007 is the basic regulation over slots in China. According to the Interim Measures, the Air Traffic Management Bureau and regional administrations under the CAAC (RAs) are responsible for specific coordination, allocation and supervision over the use of slots. The procedure is complicated, but in general, slots are allocated by the CAAC and RAs upon application by airlines. (As to slots for Chinese airlines in the uncoordinated airports or for uncoordinated period in coordinated airports, slots are designated on a ‘first come, first served' basis.) The principles used in such allocation include ‘grandfather rights' and ‘effective use'.
iii Treaty-based commitments regarding transit and traffic rights
Regarding transit and traffic rights, China joined the Convention on International Civil Aviation (the Chicago Convention) and the International Air Services Transit Agreement in 1994.
iv Interests in aircraft equipment
China has joined the Convention on International Interests in Mobile Equipment and the Protocol thereto on Matters Specific to Aircraft Equipment. Also, as per Chinese law, rights in aircraft (including civil aircraft structure, engines, propellers, radio devices and any other equipment therein) include rights of ownership, possession and mortgage as well as lien, which applies to claims for compensation for the rescue and salvage of the aircraft and claims for costs for the preservation and maintenance of aircraft. The CAAC shall be in charge of the work of the registration of rights in civil aircraft and shall, within seven working days from the date of receipt of the application for the registration of a right in a civil aircraft, carry out examination on the registration matters.
The relevant finance parties may also register their rights with the Ministry of Commerce of the PRC, or the People's Bank of China (if applicable).
v Government policy and state aid
As per the Interim Measures for the Collection, Use and Management of the Civil Aviation Development Fund by the Ministry of Finance of China, which became effective from 1 April 2012, such aviation development fund shall be collected from passengers taking flights in China as well as air transport enterprises registered and established within the territory of China and engaged in passenger and cargo transport business with China's air route resources and GA enterprises engaged in business flights. Such fund would be used in the construction of civil aviation infrastructure, regional aviation and GA development, civil aviation's energy conservation and emission reduction, research and development of key science and technology regarding civil aviation, etc. Furthermore, as per other state policies, a special fund could be used as a subsidy to airport infrastructure and development of GA.
In recent years, with the expansion of the application of the public-private partnership mechanism in public services and infrastructure construction, promoted by the Ministry of Finance and National Development and Reform Commission of China (NDRC), the market access for the construction and operation of the civil aviation airport has been further liberalised, and more social capital has been encouraged to engage with this area, which was previously mainly invested in by the government or stated-owned enterprises.
vi Labour and employment issues
There are no specific stipulations in the CAL regarding labour and employment issues, which shall be subject to China's Labour Law, the Labour Contract Law and its Implementation Regulations. For temporary, auxiliary or substituting positions, employees could be sent to airports or airlines by labour dispatch.
vii Civil aviation regulatory regime
As per the authorisation of the CAL and the State Council, the CAAC is the competent authority in civil aviation, responsible for:
- a the development, implementation and supervision of strategy and planning of civil aviation industry development;
- b the drafting of relevant laws, regulations, policies and standards;
- c supervisions on air transport and general aviation market, civil aviation safety and ground safety, civil airport construction and safe operation;
- d civil air traffic management; and
- e civil aviation emergency response.
Under the CAAC, there are seven RAs, namely the North China, East China, Northeast, Northwest, Southwest, Central and Southern, and Xinjiang Regional Administrations, responsible for regional issues as authorised by the CAAC.
II LEGAL FRAMEWORK FOR LIABILITY
The responsibilities of the public aviation transport carrier and the actual carrier are stipulated in Chapter IX, Sections 3 and 4 of the CAL. As per the CAL, a carrier should assume liability for casualties among the passengers owing to accidents on the aircraft or during their boarding or alighting. The carrier is not liable for casualties arising entirely from health reasons on the part of passengers. A carrier should assume liability for the destruction of cargo resulting from accidents during the flight. But the carrier is not liable for the destruction, loss of or damage to cargo if the loss or damage can be proved as entirely having resulted from certain factors.
Liabilities for damages to third parties on the ground are stipulated in Chapter XII of the CAL. As per the CAL, the victims of personal injury or death, or loss of property on the ground (including water surface) caused by in-flight civil aircraft or falling people or things from in-flight aircraft have the right to acquire indemnity for the damages, unless the injury or damage is not a direct result of such accident, or it is only a result of the passage of the aircraft in conformity with the state rules of air traffic.
In addition, in 1959, China joined the Convention for the Unification of Certain Rules for International Carriage by Air signed at Warsaw on 12 October 1929 (the Warsaw Convention), and in 2005 China joined the Convention for the Unification of Certain Rules for International Carriage by Air signed at Montreal on 28 May 1999 (the Montreal Convention).
i International carriage
China is a party to the following multilateral agreements relating to international carriage: the Convention on International Civil Aviation, the Warsaw Convention and its Hague Protocol, and the Montreal Convention.
In the CAL it stipulates that, as to international carriage, where contradiction appears between the CAL and the international treaties to which China is a signatory or party, provisions of international treaties shall prevail, except those on which PRC has made reservations.
ii Internal and other non-convention carriage
Non-convention carriage responsibilities shall be subject to those provisions regarding international transportation in the CAL and bilateral agreements by and between China and the foreign country. For instance, as per the agreement between China and Thailand, laws of the country where a lawsuit is filed shall apply.
iii General aviation regulation
For GA, the CAL only provides the civil liability for the damages of the third party on the ground caused by aircraft (including GA aircraft), and administrative and criminal responsibilities for violation of laws and endangering flight safety.
As per Article 71 of the Tort Liability Law, where a civil aircraft causes any harm to another person, the operator of the civil aircraft shall assume the tort liability, whether or not he or she is the passenger or the third party on the ground.
The General Operating and Flight Rules (CCAR-91-R2) by the CAAC provide regulations on general operation and flight of civil aircrafts (including rotorcraft and microlight aircraft), covering airworthiness, flight rules, maintenance, equipment, instrumentation and certification, forestry-spraying operations, etc. And as per the Rules, in the case of violation of the Rules, the CAAC has the right to order the immediate cessation of the violating activities and impose penalties such as a warning, fine, temporary suspension or revocation of licences, or a combination of these penalties.
iv Passenger rights
Regarding compensation for flight delays, in accordance with Article 126 of the CAL, the carrier should assume liability for the losses to passengers, baggage or cargoes caused by delays in the air transport. But the carrier will not be liable if there is evidence that necessary measures to avoid the losses have been taken by the carrier or its employees or agents, or that it is impossible to take such measures (such as those caused by bad weather or air traffic control).
In addition, as per the China Civil Aviation Regulations on Domestic and International Transport for Passengers and Baggage, the carrier shall:
- a provide catering or accommodation, where the flight is delayed or cancelled at the origin airport, resulting from necessary equipment maintenance, flight allocation and crew shortages;
- b assist in arranging catering and accommodation, with the cost borne by passengers themselves, where the flight is delayed or cancelled for reasons unrelated to the carrier;
- c provide catering or accommodation where the flight is delayed or cancelled at the transfer airport for whatever reason; and
- d promptly notify passengers of such delay or cancellation.
In terms of the carriage of disabled persons, according to the Measures of Air Transportation of Disabled Passengers by the CAAC Transportation Department the carrier shall not refuse to carry the disabled passenger who meets the requirements for boarding, just on the basis that his or her appearance or involuntary behaviour owing to his or her disabilities is likely to cause offence, annoyance or inconvenience to the crew or other passengers, unless otherwise stipulated in the law or for safety reasons.
Carriers, airports and airport ground service agents are required to provide necessary assistance and equipment at the terminal buildings and in the cabin. In particular, service dogs are allowed to accompany disabled passengers during the flight.
v Other legislation
Other laws and regulations impose liabilities in the civil aviation industry.
For example, as per the Product Quality Law, an aviation manufacturer producing aircraft or parts that do not conform to the state safety or quality standard shall be ordered to stop manufacturing and sale. Such products illegally manufactured and sold shall be confiscated and a fine shall be imposed. If the circumstances are serious, the business licence shall be revoked. If the case is serious enough to constitute a crime, criminal responsibility shall be investigated.
According to the Antimonopoly Law (AML), where competing aviation operators have reached and undertaken monopoly agreements, which refers to agreements, decisions or other concerted behaviours that may eliminate or restrict competition, they shall be ordered to stop such illegal acts, with illegal income confiscated or fines imposed, unless exemption requirements as stipulated by laws are met.
As per the General Principle of the Civil Law and the Environmental Protection Law, those who cause an environmental pollution shall undertake to eliminate such pollution and make compensation to those who have suffered harm as a result of it. And according to the Law on Prevention and Control of Pollution from Environmental Noise, with the exception of take-off, landing or other situations as provided for by law, no civil aircraft may fly over urban areas of cities. The civil aviation departments shall take effective measures to mitigate environmental noise pollution. Those suffering from the hazards of environmental noise pollution shall have the right to demand the polluter to eliminate the hazards; if a loss has been caused, it shall be compensated.
As per the Consumer Rights Protection Law as last amended, where business operators (i.e., air carriers) knowingly provide defective goods or services for consumers, causing the death of, or serious health damage to, the consumers or other victims, the victims shall be also entitled to demand punitive damages of up to twice the losses suffered.
According to the Cyber Security Law, network operators (e.g., an airline company that has its own booking website) shall not divulge, tamper with or damage the personal information they have collected, and shall not provide the personal information to others without the consent of the persons whose data is collected. However, a circumstance where the information has been processed and cannot be recovered, and thus it is impossible to match such information with specific persons, would be an exception.
III LICENSING OF OPERATIONS
i Licensed activities
To set up a public air transportation enterprise, the applicant must firstly obtain the authorisation of preparations for establishment and within two years thereafter, apply for the AOC from the CAAC before it gets its company business licence from the Administration for Industry and Commerce and starts the formal operation.
To set up a GA enterprise, the applicant must apply to an RA for an AOC for general aviation before it gets its company business licence from administration for industry and commerce. As to GA operations requirements, the GA enterprise must be a legal person, the legal representative must be a Chinese citizen and the staff chiefly in charge shall have appropriate aviation expertise. The registered capital shall comply with relevant laws and regulations and the equity fund for the GA enterprise to purchase aircraft (including facilities and equipment) shall meet certain requirements (50 million yuan for enterprises undertaking business aviation, for instance). It shall have two or more airworthy aircraft registered in China and have qualified personnel, airport, facilities and equipment.
Services operated by an established public air transportation/GA enterprise requiring a licence include operation qualification of carriers, scheduled and unscheduled domestic and international air transportation, dangerous goods transportation, airport construction and operation. Chinese laws and regulations specifically provide criteria for obtaining such licence.
ii Ownership rules
The Civil Aircraft Nationality Registration Ordinance of China and the Regulations on the Civil Aircraft Nationality Registration provides that civil aircraft owned by Chinese state institutions, Chinese corporations and individuals shall be registered in China. Civil aircraft must not have dual nationalities. Civil aircraft nationality registration shall not be used as evidence of ownership.
For ownership registration, the following documents are required:
- a the individual identification or business certificate;
- b the nationality registration certificate; and
- c documentary proof that the ownership has been obtained.
For those joint venture airlines, the total foreign investment in the joint venture's registered or paid-in capital shall not exceed 49 per cent, and voting rights of each foreign investor shall not exceed 25 per cent.
iii Foreign carriers
As per the Provisions on Licensing the Operation of Flight Routes by Foreign Air Transport Enterprises, if a foreign airline applies to operate a prescribed flight route between a foreign location and a location in China, it shall comply with the agreement concluded by and between the governments of China and the foreign country, and shall be first designated by the government of its home country through diplomatic channels, except as otherwise provided. After that, the foreign airline shall apply to the CAAC for the AOC.
After the AOC is obtained and before the actual operation, the airline shall:
- a obtain the Operating Norms for Foreign Air Transportation Carrier, as approved by the CAAC;
- b file for record with the CAAC its security plan; and
- c apply for slots and the price.
As to the unscheduled flights between locations in the foreign country and China, the foreign airline shall obtain the AOC and get examination and approval as per the Rules on the Examination and Approval of the Operation Certification of Foreign Public Air Transportation Carriers (CCAR-119TR-R1).
In addition, foreign airlines may not engage in scheduled or unscheduled flights between two locations in China, unless for very special reasons such as rescue and relief and as specially approved by the CAAC.
According to the Procedures on Operation Evaluation of Foreign Air Transport Enterprises, which was established in 2015, the CAAC will enhance safety supervision on foreign carriers to ensure their safe operation within China.
i Incident reporting
According to the Regulations on the Reporting, Investigation and Disposition of Work Safety Accidents by the State Council, the Regulations on the Investigation into Civil Aircraft Flight Accidents and Incidents and the Regulations on the Investigation Schedule on Civil Aircrafts Incidents by the CAAC, where such incident takes place, it shall be immediately reported to the relevant government departments (including the Work Safety Administration Departments and the RAs) and the police, the worker's union and the People's Procuratorate. Contingency plans must be triggered and efficient measures must be taken to prevent the accident from escalation and reduce casualties and property losses.
Afterwards, investigations must be made in a timely manner and accurately, in order to find out the truth, the reason and the loss, to summarise lessons from the accident and to propose corrective measures. Investigation into extraordinary serious accidents shall be undertaken by the State Council or its authorised department.
ii Airworthiness and maintenance
As outlined in the Regulations for the Administration of the Airworthiness of Civil Aircraft, all units or individuals that are engaged in the designing, manufacturing, use and maintenance of civil aircraft (including aircraft engines and propellers, and the same hereinafter) within China, all units or individuals that export civil aircraft to China, and all units or individuals that perform outside China maintenance services to aircraft registered in China shall abide by these Regulations.. For example, with regard to the export and import of aircraft, a certificate of airworthiness for export or import must be obtained from the CAAC beforehand. As to the use of aircraft, the certificate of airworthiness issued by the CAAC must be obtained before its use. In the certificate of airworthiness, the type of civil aircraft, validity period, safety requirements and other conditions and restrictions are stated.
As to the insurance, the CAL only stipulates that liability insurance for the third party on the ground is universally required. In addition, other regulations require other insurance for different types of operators, for example:
- a hull insurance, hull risk insurance and legal liability insurance are required for those carriers or operators undertaking international air transportation, according to the Regulation on Scheduled International Air Transportation; and
- b hull insurance and legal liability insurance are required for those foreign operators undertaking unscheduled air transportation of passengers, baggage, cargo and mail, according to the Detailed Rules for the Business Licensing for Non-scheduled Flights of Foreign Air Transport Enterprises.
There is no such circumstance under which the insurance obligation could be exempted except that similar government indemnity is provided and acceptable to CAAC.
Generally, a certificate of insurance would be used as the proof of insurance, whether the original or a photocopy consistent with the original. But copies of the insurance policies may also be required at the sole discretion of the competent authorities.
The AML is the special law regulating monopolistic activities. Different law enforcement institutes are responsible for difference types of such activities: the MOFCOM is responsible for the operators' concentration, the National Development and Reform Commission is responsible for monopoly agreements and abuse of market ascendancy related to price fixing, and the State Administration of Industry and Commerce (SAIC) is responsible for those unrelated to price fixing.
Where the concentration of business operators satisfies a certain threshold, they shall file an application to the MOFCOM for approval.
As per the AML, the competing business operators are prohibited from reaching monopoly agreements that may eliminate or restrict competition. But such monopoly agreement can be exempted if it falls into certain categories, such as improvement of technology, quality and efficiency. The NDRC and SAIC proactively, and on their own initiative, investigate business operations they suspect may be monopolistic. Those who undertake monopoly agreements may face severe punishment if they cannot be exempted according to law. Meanwhile, the Mechanism of Joint Conference on Exemption of Monopoly Agreement by Air Transportation Operators promulgated by the NDRC and the CAAC in 2012 was actually abolished in practice, according to which airlines with the intention to sign a cooperation agreement that is suspected to be monopolistic could file such draft agreement with the CAAC and NDRC for the joint conference. The NDRC was trying to change the exemption application to self-evaluation and publicised Guidelines on General Conditions and Procedures for the Exemption of Monopoly Agreements (Consultation Draft) on May in 2016 and solicited comments from various parties, tending to establish immunity consultation and immunity application procedure. The final version is yet to be released.
In terms of monopolistic behaviours, only administrative responsibilities and civil liability can be imposed, but no criminal liability. However, those who refuse or hinder the investigation by the antimonopoly law enforcement agencies may be held criminally responsible.
All in all, the civil aviation industry is still a relatively small and specialised area for Chinese competition law enforcement agencies, which haven't shown any great concern or made any punishments in this area as yet.
VII Wrongful Death
Where the victim suffers bodily injury or death, the liable party shall pay for the funeral expenses; the living expenses of the persons in need of the victim's maintenance and upbringing; the death compensation expenses; the traffic expenses and accommodation expenses paid by the victim's relatives for funeral matters; compensation for psychological damages and their loss of income resulting from missed working time; and other reasonable expenses.
The death compensation shall be based on the average annual disposable income of the urban residents or net income of the rural residents in the previous year at the locality of the court seized of the case. This annual amount is then multiplied by 20 years to determine the total compensation amount. However, if the victim is aged 60 or above, the period multiplied shall be deducted by one year for each year of age added. If the victim is aged 75 or above, the period multiplied shall be five years.
VIII ESTABLISHING LIABILITY AND SETTLEMENT
In China, aviation-related disputes are solved by litigation or arbitration (where a binding arbitration agreement exists) according to the Civil Procedure Law and the Arbitration Law. In the case of litigation, such disputes are to be filed with normal courts (there is no special court for civil aviation as there is for maritime-related disputes, for example). Generally speaking, a first-instance trial takes place and then any or either party who disagrees with the first-instance judgment can file an appeal with the superior court. The second-instance judgment is the final judgment. The first-instance trial shall take place within six months, which can be extended by another six months in special cases. Where the case could not be closed within the extended six months, a further extension of time shall be approved by the superior court. The second-instance trial should last no longer than three months.
In the case of arbitration, an arbitration award is final and binding. The timelines of arbitrations are subject to rules of the arbitration organisation.
The limitation of action, as per the CAL, is two years, counting from the day of arrival of the aircraft, or its scheduled arrival, or the termination of the shipment. The compensation claim time limit for injury and damages of the third person on the ground is two years, counting from the day the injury or damage occurs, and it should not exceed three years under any circumstances.
Parties involved and the allocation of liabilities are as follows:
- a For disputes arising from air transportation, the contractual or the actual carrier should be responsible for any damages. The passengers or the consignee could also choose to sue the employee or agent of the carrier, but if they can prove that they have performed their duty, the final obligation shall be borne by the carrier.
- b As to the damages to the third person on the ground, the operator shall be responsible. The registered owner shall be deemed to be the operator, unless proved otherwise. Employees or agents shall not be responsible, unless they are proved to have caused the damages intentionally. In addition, the third person could file a lawsuit against the insurer or guarantor if the operator is bankrupted.
ii Carriers' liability towards passengers and third parties
As to the damages to the third person on the ground, the operator shall be responsible. The registered owner shall be deemed to be the operator, unless otherwise proved. Employees or agents shall not be responsible, unless they are proved to have caused the damages intentionally. In addition, the third person could file the lawsuit against the insurer or guarantor if the operator is bankrupted.
Carriers' liability towards passengers is strict liability. A carrier should assume liability for casualties among the passengers owing to accidents on the aircraft or during their boarding or alighting, unless the casualties arise entirely from health reasons on the part of passengers or their intention. A carrier should assume liability for the destruction, loss or damage of the carry-on articles of passengers owing to accidents on the aircraft or during their boarding or alighting, unless they have resulted entirely from the natural properties, quality or defects itself.
As to the limitation of liabilities, for domestic transportation, the liability limitation for passengers is 400,000 yuan per passenger, 3,000 yuan for carry-on baggage and 100 yuan per kilogram for cargo; and for international transport, the liability limitation for passenger is 16,600 special drawing rights (SDR) per passenger, 17 SDR per kilogram for cargo and 332 SDR for carry-on baggage.
The liability for the injury or damages to the third person on the ground is also strict. The victims of personal injury or death or loss of property on the ground (including water surface) caused by in-flight civil aircraft or falling people or things from in-flight aircraft have the right to acquire indemnity for the damages, unless it is not a direct result of the accident responsible for the injury or damage, or it is only a result of the passage of the aircraft in the air in conformity with the state rules of air traffic. There is no such liability limitation.
Normally, the carrier bears civil liability. However, if extraordinary loss or casualty has been caused because of intention or significant negligence of the carrier or its employee, they may be held criminally liable.
iii Product liability
At present, product liabilities are mainly stipulated in the General Principles of Civil Law, the Product Quality Law and the Tort Liability Law. Under these laws, the manufacturer is obliged to compensate for injury or damages arising from defective products. Therefore, in air transport, if the loss of or damage to the passengers or the aircraft owner or operator resulted from the defect of the aircraft or its parts, the manufacturer of the aircraft or its parts shall be responsible for compensation. In addition, if the manufacturer knows of the defect and still sells the aircraft or part to the owner, the owner or the passenger could request punitive compensation, the standard of which is yet to be stipulated by law.
For loss of or damage to property, the liable party shall compensate the loss.
For personal injury, the liable party shall compensate medical expenses, loss of income, nursing care, necessary transportation and accommodation, and nutrition fees, etc.
Where the victim becomes disabled because of an injury, the liable party shall pay the compensation for disability, expenses of aid for disability, the living expenses of the person in need of his or her maintenance and upbringing, the necessary healing expenses that actually occurred for healing and nursing, continuing treatment, nursing expenses, and the follow-up treatment expenses.
Compensation for spiritual damages shall also be paid, but the amount will be subject to court decision.
Thus, factors that influence the level and amount of the compensation include the severity of injury, the victim's income and the living standards where the victim lives.
Furthermore, for those injured or deceased victims who have paid social insurance in China (social medical insurance included), they can get compensation from China's social insurance fund, which shall be entitled to recovery from any liable third party.
IX THE YEAR IN REVIEW
In the past year, some events of far-reaching significance have taken place, in particular:
- a The amended Provisions on the Administration of Business Licensing for General Aviation, published by the Ministry of Transport, came into force on 1 June 2016. This new regulation lowered the entry thresholds for investment in GA by streamlining the licensing procedure and easing controls on many aspects, such as cancelling the authorisation of preparations for establishment and loosening the standard of the base airport.
- b The CAAC is encouraging the development of unmanned aircraft and has taken a series of measures to regulate the use of it. On 16 May 2017, the CAAC issued the Administrative Regulation on Registration for Unmanned Aircraft Owner, which stipulates that unmanned aircraft of which the maximum take-off weight is or in excess of 250g must be registered in the real name of its owner.
- c On 11 January 2017, Administrative Regulations on Donated Human Organs Aviation Transport was released by the CAAC, which further regulates and specifies the procedures for transporting donated human organs.
- d Regulations on the Flight Regularity published by Ministry of Transport came into effect on 1 January 2017. It mainly regulates airlines' obligations on maintaining the flight regularity and on providing necessary services and supports to passengers in case of flight delays or cancellations. The Regulation will not only apply to all Chinese carriers, but also foreign carriers departing from mainland China airports and those with stops at the airports of mainland China.
In the near future, special attention should be paid to the following events:
- a The government is reviewing the Civil Aviation Law and may propose to amend the law in the near future, including the possibility of raising (or even removing) the liability limitation regarding injury or death of passengers in domestic air transportation, as it currently stands at 400,000 yuan.
- b To cope with the general requirement of the central government of China to streamline administration and delegate power to lower levels, the CAAC will gradually lower its power to its regional offices and cancel a large number of items requiring administrative approval.
- c To achieve more efficient and flexible use of that airspace is quite important for further development of public aviation companies and GA companies. The civil industry is calling for structural reform by way of a progressively more integrated management of airspace and the development of new concepts and procedures of air traffic management, ensuring fairness and transparency.
1 Gao Feng is a senior partner at Grandall Law Firm (Beijing).