Pilots can no longer fly to Beijing unless they’re qualified to land in smog

The government is attempting to prevent further flight delays due to low visibility

Topics: Smog, China, Air pollution, ,

Pilots can no longer fly to Beijing unless they're qualified to land in smogBuildings are seen in heavy haze in Shanghai, China, Friday, Dec. 6, 2013. Shanghai authorities have ordered youth indoors and halted construction as China’s financial hub suffers one of its worst bouts of air pollution, bringing visibility down to a few dozen meters and obscuring its spectacular skyline.(AP Photo/Eugene Hoshiko)

The heavy smog that’s settled upon China has wreaked havoc across the country this winter, keeping people indoors, forcing cars off the roads and managing to shut down entire cities. In September, the Chinese government pledged to start cutting coal consumption, promising clear air in the worst areas by 2017. With the concentration of dangerous particles in the air already much higher than is deemed safe for human health, that’s a long time to wait.



And in the meantime, they’ll adjust. Starting Jan. 1, the Chinese government announced, pilots seeking to land in Beijing from any of the country’s 10 busiest airports will need to be qualified to land on days when visibility is reduced to 400 meters (1,315 feets). “Considering the recent smog and haze has bought numerous troubles to air transport in eastern and southern regions, it seems necessary for authorities to ask pilots to improve their landing capability in low visibility,” a professor at Civil Aviation University of China told the China Daily.

According to the Guardian, aviation officials are hoping this will help limit the frequent flight delays and cancellations that have been causing passenger revolts (the delays are in part due to the smog, but are also blamed on the military’s tight control of the airspace). But for now, according to the report, few airports have the instrument landing systems required to land in low visibility — meaning that if the smog continues, so too will many of the delays.

 

Lindsay Abrams

Lindsay Abrams is an assistant editor at Salon, focusing on all things sustainable. Follow her on Twitter @readingirl, email labrams@salon.com.

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