Smog forces 'blind landing' training on China's pilots
December 12, 2013 -- Updated 0758 GMT (1558 HKT)
A man stands next to an airplane in heavy smog in Harbin, northeast China's Heilongjiang province, on October 21, 2013.
- Chinese pilots for even small airlines will be required to get 'blind landing' training due to smog
- Aviation authority says smog is now so bad that it is causing delays in flight scheduling
- International airlines have on board systems that allow them to land with next to no visibility
- The latest bout of smog in Beijing and Shanghai has led to the cancellation or delay of hundreds of flights
Hong Kong (CNN) -- Smog in Beijing is now so bad and such a regular occurrence that the country's civil aviation authority will require the pilots of even small commercial airlines to be able to perform "blind landings."
The move is aimed at easing delays at Beijing Capital International Airport, which has had the worst flight delays out of 35 international airports.
READ: China airports world's worst for on-time performance
According to China's state-run China Daily, the Civil Aviation Administration of China (CAAC) will from January 1 require pilots flying from China's 10 busiest airports to Beijing to be able to use instrument-landing system on hazy days with a visibility of 400 meters.
"It is part of a series of measures the administration took recently to raise flights' on-time performance," a CAAC source told the China Daily.
Large passenger aircraft from international airlines require their pilots to have a "blind landing category 2" certification allowing them to land in poor visibility. This was one of the reasons, the source pointed out, that international airlines suffered fewer delays.
China's toxic smog problem
Thick smog blankets city, closes schools
The latest bout of smog in Beijing and Shanghai has led to the cancellation or delay of hundreds of flights, stranding passengers and creating chaos at airports.
Chinese media reports said that while 80% of the pilots at Spring Airlines, half of China Eastern and most of Juneyao Airlines pilots had received training, only larger airports such as those in Shanghai, Guangzhou and Xian were equipped with ground systems that allowed for blind landings.
A pilot with Cathay Pacific, who did not want to be named because he was not authorized to speak, said that modern jetliners can be brought to land in zero visibility.
"The greatest limitation is really being able to taxi off the runway," he told CNN, adding that modern aircraft had three systems on-board that could auto-land a plane.
He said training in these systems involved identifying deficiencies or failures in any of the systems and establishing at what point the pilots would have to abort a landing.
He added that the problems that smog and pollution created for aviation was not just isolated to China and that other countries had also struggled with the problem.
"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," he said. "This is just the same technology moving into the industrial revolution that's happening in China at the moment."
Today's five most popular stories
Part of complete coverage on
November 12, 2014 -- Updated 2014 GMT (0414 HKT)
Despite China's inexorable economic rise, the U.S. is still an indispensable ally, especially in Asia. No one knows this more than the Asian giant's leaders, writes Kerry Brown.
November 12, 2014 -- Updated 2359 GMT (0759 HKT)
The new U.S. deal with China on greenhouse gases faces enormous challenges in both countries. Jonathan Mann explains.
November 13, 2014 -- Updated 0338 GMT (1138 HKT)
For the United States and China to announce a plan reducing carbon emissions by almost a third by the year 2030 is a watershed moment for climate politics on so many fronts.
November 17, 2014 -- Updated 2026 GMT (0426 HKT)
China shows off its new stealth fighter jet, but did it steal the design from an American company? Brian Todd reports.
November 11, 2014 -- Updated 0101 GMT (0901 HKT)
Airshow China in Zhuhai provides a rare glimpse of China's military and commercial aviation hardware.
November 12, 2014 -- Updated 1314 GMT (2114 HKT)
A new exchange initiative aims to bridge relations between the two countries .
November 11, 2014 -- Updated 0551 GMT (1351 HKT)
Xi and Abe's brief summit featured all the enthusiasm of two unhappy schoolboys forced to make up after a schoolyard dust-up.
November 11, 2014 -- Updated 0112 GMT (0912 HKT)
Maybe you've decided to show your partner love with a new iPhone. But how about 99 of them?
November 3, 2014 -- Updated 0219 GMT (1019 HKT)
Can China's Muslim minority fit in? One school is at the heart of an ambitious experiment to assimilate China's Uyghurs.
November 4, 2014 -- Updated 1455 GMT (2255 HKT)
Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg is one of thousands of Americans learning Chinese.
November 4, 2014 -- Updated 0500 GMT (1300 HKT)
Taiwanese President Ma Ying-jeou says he needs to maintain good economic ties with China while trying to keep Beijing's push for reunification at bay.
October 30, 2014 -- Updated 0528 GMT (1328 HKT)
Chinese drone-maker DJI wants to make aerial photography drones mainstream despite concerns about privacy.
October 29, 2014 -- Updated 0518 GMT (1318 HKT)
A top retired general confesses to taking bribes, becoming the highest-profile figure in China's military to be caught up in war on corruption.
October 24, 2014 -- Updated 0242 GMT (1042 HKT)
China sends an unmanned spacecraft to the moon and back but is country following an outdated recipe for superpower status?
October 28, 2014 -- Updated 1619 GMT (0019 HKT)
Full marks for ingenuity: Students employ high-tech gadgets worthy of a spy movie to pass national exam.
October 21, 2014 -- Updated 0526 GMT (1326 HKT)
Confucius Institutes seek to promote Chinese language and culture but some have accused them of "cultural imperialism."
October 24, 2014 -- Updated 1511 GMT (2311 HKT)
Smooth jazz saxophonist Kenny G wants everyone to know that he's not a foreign agitator trying to defy the Chinese Communist Party.