Small, but significant step for China's flexible airspace use

Environmental Operations

This article caught our attention: Civilian airliners to be allowed in military airspace. It is from a Chinese news source and denotes a significant step - from yesterday, during adverse weather conditions, commercial flights in China will have military airspace opened up to reduce delays and allow the aircraft to fly around thunderstorms in an efficient manner. It is a very important move.

Not many passengers will be aware that large amounts of airspace are not open to commercial flights, being restricted for military or other purposes. This means that air traffic controllers and pilots must plan to fly zig-zag routes to avoid these restricted areas, instead of directly flying between airports. This is despite the fact that very few military operations use their protected zones 100% of the time. In some countries, they only use these training areas a day or two per week...

Whilst it would be ideal to do away with these protected military zones altogether, it is gratifying to see military and civil aviation authorities in many countries now working together to create flexible use of these areas. On the days when exercises are not taking place, the military hand over the use of the airspace to commercial traffic which can then reduce flight times, fuel burn and emissions by flying more direct routings.

Yesterday's announcement in China may just be related to adverse weather for now, but it signals a willingness to work on the issue and perhaps we will see more regular flexible use of airspace in there as well.