From 2005 October

Top Chinese aviation official Yang Yuanyuan yesterday said a new bilateral aviation safety agreement with the U.S. will help China confront a range of growing pains caused by its mushrooming airline industry.

Yang, the minister for the General Administration of Civil Aviation of China (CAAC), signed the bilateral agreement with U.S. FAA head Marion Blakey at FAA's International Aviation Safety Forum in Washington. The bilateral agreement is designed to prevent "duplicative oversight of each other's airlines" and improve coordination between U.S. and Chinese flight safety programs, FAA said.

Yang said the rapid growth of civil aviation in China is putting pressure on safety oversight and infrastructure, and he warned that inadequate human resources in crucial areas could be a problem if not addressed soon. CAAC is dealing with these issues while it transitions to a more scientific and rule-based oversight system, Yang said.

China's airline industry has 840 commercial transport category aircraft and is expected to add another 680 by 2010, Yang said. Through September this year, flights are up 11%, passenger traffic 12% and cargo 8%, compared with last year. China's aviation system is forecast to grow to be the second-largest in the world behind the U.S.

Current training rates for pilots and maintenance engineers are not adequate, and new channels need to be found to boost numbers, said Yang. China will need 8,000-10,000 more pilots by 2010, he said.

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