China eases requirements for trainee pilots hoping to fly private aircraft

China eases requirements for trainee pilots hoping to fly private aircraft
A worker from an aircraft manufacturer assembles an airplane in Binzhou, Shandong province, in March. Experts say the new pilot requirements will encourage more people to take up flying.

China has eased requirements for trainee pilots hoping to fly private aircraft, a move experts say will boost the general aviation sector.

Changes have been made to the standards for theoretical exams, flight tests and physical condition that a flight student for private aircraft must meet before obtaining a certificate, the Civil Aviation Administration said in a statement.

"Before the standards were loosened, physical requirements for private aircraft pilots were as stringent as for those wishing to fly commercial aircraft," said Li Xiaojin, a professor at the Civil Aviation University of China.

"Because more and more people have begun to procure private aircraft or apply for flight certificates for business or recreational purposes, the adjustment came at the right time."

In the past, flight students in China were subject to rigorous standards because most of them would fly military or commercial aircraft after they graduated from flight academies, he explained.

He added that equipment used on aircraft in the past were not as advanced as today, so pilots had to have a strong physique to handle flight controls.

Under the new requirements, those aged 17 or above who have received at least three years of education at a middle school will be eligible to apply for a private pilot's license, applicable only for noncommercial flights.

The biggest change made to the previous requirements is in the physical criteria an applicant must meet.

Requirements for height, weight and eyesight were altered and those who have chronic diseases, like diabetes, hypertension or coronary artery disease, which would disqualify them in the past, are allowed by the new rules to take flight courses.

"After the adjustment, physical requirements for the holder of a private pilot license have become as flexible as those for car drivers," the Civil Aviation Administration said.

After receiving a certified report of their physical fitness, flight students will also have to go through 40 hours of theoretical studies and another 40 hours of flight training before they sit final exams.

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