Crew and passengers must have visas to enter China; lead time for obtaining them for U.S. operators can be as little as a day for passengers and two to three business days for crewmembers. (And of course, a visa for Taiwan is not a visa for China.) It is mandatory that the operator have a sponsoring letter from a local company or host. Landing permits are not required for U.S. operators.

“You can request multiple entries good for six months,” Young said. “The single entry is good for seven days or longer if you show them your itinerary.” If the crew is traveling into the country via airline, each crewmember will have to obtain either a tourist or business visa to get in, but if then flying out on the company jet, a crew visa will also be necessary.

For applicants from other countries, requirements may differ; for example, applying from India requires landing permission.

“At smaller airports, especially those controlled by the military, you will have to have strong local government sponsorship, which must be submitted to CAAC with a military approval,” Young said.

The importance of sponsor letters cannot be overemphasized, so much so, Young insisted, that it has become difficult for business aviation OEMs to conduct aircraft demonstrations in multiple cities. “There is a new requirement that if you want to fly to more than five cities, you must have a sponsor letter for each city,” Young said. “CAAC wants a strict schedule of flights. They believe that this heightened activity causes congestion in the airways system; thus, they want to restrict the number of demo flights. They see this activity as 'low priority.' For the most part, CAAC is still treating general aviation like the airlines and lacks the infrastructure or flexibility to manage all these aircraft or to accommodate changes in schedule.”

Shanghai is a safe place to visit if sensible big-city precautions are taken. The Chinese people are friendly, helpful and welcoming, but don't expect the average person on the street to understand or speak English; however, the public-contact people at airports and hotels are generally fluent. Major luxury hotels are represented in the Pudong district, and surface transportation is good and plentiful. One of the world's few magnetic levitation trains connects the downtown with Shanghai Pudong Airport. A tour through the old section of the city is an experience rich in culture and architecture. And don't miss the Shanghai Museum to complete your mini-education of this intriguing city. BCA