Two weeks ago at the International General Aviation Convention (IGAC) in Xi'an, China, 35 contracts worth 9.6 billion yuan ($1.5 billion) for general aviation (GA) aircraft and investments were signed. Amidst that positive news, speaker after speaker predicted a strong future for GA in China.
On the heels of the conference, Beijing officials on October 25 set up the first GA manufacturing company in the city as a cooperative venture of the Beijing Automotive Group and Beihang University of Aeronautics and Astronautics. The new firm will manufacture and sell aircraft as well as serve the country’s GA research and development needs.
Jane Zhang, whose company Silk Wings Aviation is a leading GA aircraft manufacturer’s representative in China and provides a wide range of consulting services, said that along with business aircraft manufacture and sales, airport construction will be a significant opportunity, since China now has only about 300 public-use airports compared to more than 5,000 in the U.S.
Also, the market for FBOs and FAR Part 135-type on demand air transportation will be fertile, since only a handful of such companies now exist in China.
Private aircraft ownership has been allowed in China since 2003, but enthusiasm for GA in China took off last year when China's State Council and the Central Military Commission jointly ordered part of the country's low-altitude airspace opened and announced that it planned to “thoroughly” open airspace across the country by 2015, the end of the current Five Year Plan.
Since then, 20 Chinese provinces and regions have started planning for GA growth, with 14 of them having added it to their 12th Five-Year plan, according to Jin Junhao, an official with the Civil Aviation Administration of China (CAAC).
“If in 15-25 years China’s GA reaches one percent of GDP, then it will indeed be a good contribution,” Jhang said. “There’s an old Chinese proverb,” Zhang said. “Patience is a virtue.”