Spotlight

Airport certified for seaplanes, drones

Jul 26, 2019

Two seaplanes dock at Jinshan Water Airport at Hangzhou Bay.
A cargo transport drone at Jinshan Water Airport

China's first top-level water airport has been certified in Shanghai's southern outskirts by the nation's civil aviation regulator to serve seaplanes and drones across the Yangtze River Delta region.

Jinshan Water Airport at Hangzhou Bay has been approved as the city's only and China's first level-A general aviation airport by the East China Region Administration of the Civil Aviation Administration of China (CAAC), meaning the site can open and offer aviation services to the public.

The airport site is 1,450 meters long and 150 meters wide near the Jinshan City Beach along the Shanghai-Hangzhou expressway. It has two runways, four airplane stands on the ground and a 70-meter-long dock for seaplanes.

The airport will serve seaplanes with five to nine seats and drones for emergency rescue, transport, travel and sightseeing, marine patrols and test flights, according to the Joy Air Holding Co, which owns the airport operator.

"The certification of the airport marks a milestone to realize a better general aviation connection across the Yangtze River Delta region," the company said.

Flying can shorten the time between Jinshan and the Zhoushan Archipelago in neighboring Zhejiang Province to about 30 minutes, compared with a three-hour drive across the Hangzhou Bay Bridge. A ferry service also takes at least three hours depending on the weather.

Last month, an amphibious cargo drone took off from the Jinshan airport to land at Shengsi County in Zhoushan, China's easternmost sea island, in a test flight of less than 40 minutes.

The U650 drone developed by local high-tech startup UVS Intelligence System can carry 250 kilograms of cargo. It can take off and land on roads, grassland and water automatically.

Drones are expected to be used to send fresh food and online shopping more timely to island residents, said Liu Jiandong, the company's president and general manager. Times and costs can be largely reduced with the drone service, he added.

In December, the airport hosted a drone patrol mission for the Jinshan maritime safety bureau.

A drone taking off and landing at the airport inspected the Large and Small Jinshan Islands, a port for chemical products, shipping waterways as well as tourist attractions around Jinshan City Beach.

The drone can also support maritime rescues, accident investigations and other supervisory tasks to help ensure safety of the sea areas, the maritime bureau said.

In July 2016, a seaplane crashed during takeoff from Jinashan to Zhoushan, killing five people onboard.

The captain of the Cessna 208B seaplane, who sustained severe injuries, failed to obey instructions when he flew the seaplane for Joy General Aviation, according to the CAAC.