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Key Requirements for Flying in China During COVID-19

Seamlessly executing an international flight is a complicated endeavor involving many different regulatory bodies.  Flight crew must consider not only international procedures and rules and regulations of their destinations, but also all of the constantly changing COVID-19 rules that apply to themselves and their passengers.  The following is a brief discussion on operating flights in China in 2021.

Entry into China
For entry into China, flight crew are required to obtain crew visas.  Crew members and passengers entering China must complete a Health Declaration Form prior to departure.  This form can be found at the following link:

When travelling to China on a business jet, a COVID-19 test prior to departure has not been required.  However, a test is given on arrival prior to clearing customs.  Once through customs and immigration, flight crew are taken via police vehicle to a government-appointed hotel to complete their quarantine.  The specific hotel information is typically not provided until arrival.

Quarantine requirements vary depending on the city of arrival.  Nanjing and Shanghai, for example, have a 14-day quarantine.  Beijing, at times, has required a 21-day quarantine. During quarantine, temperatures are taken twice daily.  At the end of the quarantine period, a second COVID-19 test is administered and the crew are released and free to choose their own accommodation.  A follow-up COVID-19 test is required 10 days after quarantine and some hotels also request tests at check-in.  Some flight crew have received 8-10 tests over a 2-month period.

Health Kits 
Crewmembers are required to upload a Health Kit through the WeChat app on their mobile phone that tracks health status and results of COVID-19 tests.  Displaying a valid Health Kit is a requirement for travelling domestically and for entry into hotels, shopping malls, restaurants, etc.

Domestic Procedures
Domestic flights within China can be restrictive, depending on COVID-19 outbreaks, and internal quarantine requirements may be enforced. It is important to have current COVID-19 requirements for any destination. International handlers are the best source for current information.

Typically, 2-3 days is suggested as a minimum time for domestic flight approval to acquire the necessary permits.  Last-minute flight approval can be difficult and is not guaranteed.

Due to the pandemic, flights within China are quieter with less traffic, though procedures are typical.  Aircraft are kept at low altitudes, rarely getting above FL300 and often laterally offset from their track (from 3 NM to 13 NM).  STARs are often not assigned until close to the airport.  It is a good idea to query the ATC about which STAR to expect.

It is important to note that China continues to use their own Flight Level Allocation Scheme.  Altitudes are always assigned in meters.  However, when flying in RVSM airspace (8,900m-12,500m) flight levels are assigned in meters, but must be converted to feet using the China RVSM table and the flight crew must fly the corresponding altitude in feet.

Commercial aviation is slowly getting back to normal in China as COVID-19 rates are lower there than in most places in the world.  However, due to the restrictions, business aviation levels are still far lower than normal.  A foundational knowledge of international procedures is fundamental for a successful mission when flying in China.

The International Procedures Recurrent topic is coming soon from
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Oliver Brownie, TrainingPort.NET

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