China’s Heavy Smog Forces Pilots to Undergo ‘Blind Landing’ Training

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By Gopi Chandra Kharel | December 12, 2013 9:54 PM EST

The occurrence of smog in China is so intense and regular that the situation has forced the government to legislate a new civil aviation rule, under which every pilot will have to undergo a lesson on what has been referred to as "Blind Landing".

Beijing's newly released move is aimed at curbing the problem of delays in flights at Beijing Capital International Airport, which has had a record for world's worst airports for on-time performance.

The Civil Aviation Administration of China (CAAC) will enforce the training, whereby pilots flying from 10 busy airports to Beijing should be able to master the mechanism of instrument-landing system, even on hazy days with a visibility of 400 meters, China's state-run China Daily has reported.

Passenger aircrafts of international airlines require their pilots to be certified by a "blind landing category 2" qualification that allows them to land in poor visibility, a major reason why other airlines suffer fewer delays. China's new legislation aims for the same performance.

"It is a part of a series of measures the administration took recently to raise flights' on-time performance," a CAAC source told the daily.

Hundreds of flights were cancelled and many more were delayed in Beijing on 5 December, due to a dark haze of fog that blanketed parts of northern China. Such occurrences are so frequent that the Civil Aviation had been considering a solution for years.

Like numerous other episodes of smog that appear in China, the recent smog of Beijing was reportedly so dark that many drivers kept their headlights on throughout the day, giving the city an uncanny, netherworld feeling.

"The whole concept of auto-land was developed in England in the 1960s for the fog that London gets and on top of that all the pollution that they got at the time," a pilot with Cathay Pacific told CNN. "This is just the same technology moving into the industrial revolution that's happening in China at the moment."

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