Monday, December 16, 2013

China tells pilots: learn to land in smog

This story is almost unbearably sad.  China has begun to admit it has a critical pollution problem.  This pollution largely caused by equipment and infrastructure that is less than 25 years old.  In other words, many of her problems are caused by decisions that have been made since James Hansen gave his famous testimony on climate change in 1988.

As I constantly preach—pollution is a function of design.  What this means is that there is little the Chinese can do about her new pollution problems because the machinery that produces that pollution has now been built. There is precious little that can be done now without replacing this virtually new equipment.  Here is a country that has almost completely rebuilt in the past generation but because they ignored the principles of green design, the work of millions will almost certainly lead to environmental catastrophes.

Talk about missing a golden opportunity to do it right.  So now China is going to find out how expensive it is to build on the cheap.

China tells pilots: learn to land in smog

Latest official missive on air pollution is part of effort to cut chronic flight delays that have led to passenger revolts

Reuters in Beijing, Thursday 12 December 2013

Chinese authorities have told pilots who fly to Beijing they must be qualified to land their aircraft in the low visibility bought about by smog – the latest missive related to the capital's heavy air pollution, which the government this week lauded as a beneficial shield against missile attacks.

From 1 January pilots flying from the country's 10 busiest airports into the Chinese capital must be qualified to use an instrument landing system on days when smog reduces visibility to around 400 metres (1,315 feet), the official China Daily said, citing China's civil aviation regulator.

"It is part of a series of measures the administration took recently to raise the flights' on-time performance," the newspaper quoted an unnamed aviation official as saying.

Despite investing billions of dollars in new airports and advanced western-built aircraft China suffers a chronic problem with flight delays, partly because of its often wildly fluctuating weather but also because the military tightly controls most of China's airspace.

Chinese media frequently reports fights, attacks on airport and airline workers and passengers storming aircraft in response to delays and the poor way they are handled. The government has demanded airlines and airports address the issue.

In recent years smog has added to the delays, especially in Beijing but also in other parts of the country like Shanghai.

"Considering the recent smog and haze has bought numerous troubles to air transport in eastern and southern regions, it seems necessary for authorities to ask pilots to improve their landing capability in low visibility," the China Daily quoted Ouyang Jie, a professor at Civil Aviation University of China, as saying.

The report added that only a handful of Chinese airports have the instrument landing systems required for aircraft to land in poor visibility.

Air quality in cities is of increasing concern to China's stability-obsessed leaders, anxious to douse potential unrest as a more affluent urban population turns against a driver for economic growth that has poisoned much of the country's air, water and soil.

China's state media came under fire this week for arguing the smog had benefits: it could hinder the use of guided missiles by enemies as well as helping Chinese people's sense of humour by causing a proliferation of smog jokes. more

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