China’s New Status Symbol: A Pilot’s License

With at least three hundred private jets plying Chinese airspace—two thirds of them without legal registration—some among China’s new rich are aiming to stand out by learning to fly their own planes. From Jing Daily:

[With] the development of China’s private aviation industry has come another status symbol: a pilot’s license. Despite pricey training costs, which range between 60,000-80,000 yuan (US$9,278-12,371) — upwards of three times the country’s annual per capita GDP — ChinaLuxus noted this week that 1,600 budding pilots have already obtained official licenses in China, with the site suggesting that the actual number is far higher. Sort of a frightening prospect, but someone has to pilot the much-discussed “black flights” taking place across the country.

… According to industry sources, before flying legally, new pilots must take three steps, as proscribed by civil aviation law: First pilots need an official license issued by the Civil Aviation Administration of China; Second, pilots need a secondary pilot’s license issued by “relevant departments” in their region; Finally, a pilot needs to get permission for their flight plan from all air traffic control departments.

With these measures in place, and so much red tape to cut through, it’s almost no surprise so many pilots and private jet owners in China would rather pay the fines, which the New York Times noted “can range up to 100,000 renminbi, or about $15,400.”

On Twitter, Lonnie Hodge comments that “the ultimate status symbol here on the Silk Road is being able to afford vegetables.”


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