National Business Aviation Association (NBAA) President and CEO Ed Bolen discussed the importance of business aviation as a driver of global economic growth during a Washington panel discussion focused on China's accelerated plans for general aviation.
"There is a real responsibility for all of us to do what we can to make sure, not just that this industry reaches its full potential in China, but it does so in a very safe, very secure and very efficient way," Bolen said.
The panel discussion was part of a US-China Aviation Summit, hosted by the American Association of Airport Executives. Moderated by Pete Bunce, the president and CEO of the General Aviation Manufacturers Association (GAMA), the panel also included representatives from the Aircraft Owners and Pilots Association (AOPA), the Gulfstream Owners and Pilots Association, and the U.S. Federal Aviation Administration (FAA), as well as CAAC.
Topics discussed by the panel included the need to continue dialogue on aviation matters and the international shortage of commercial pilots, which is currently a problem in the United States and also a priority as China continues to fast-track development of its aviation infrastructure. As Miao Xuan, the division director of the Air Traffic Management Bureau of the Air Traffic Control Division of the Civil Aviation Administration of China, said during the panel discussion, "Learning helps development [and] communication coordination."
Over the past two decades China's aviation sector has developed significantly and is showing no signs of stopping. In cooperation with the U.S.-China Aviation Cooperation Program, the U.S. Department of Commerce, the U.S. Department of Transportation and the U.S. Federal Aviation Administration, the summit brought together aviation experts from both nations to discuss technical, policy and commercial opportunities for business aviation interests in China and the United States.
Civil aviation authorities in China estimate the nation will require thousands of additional aircraft in the coming years. The Chinese government recognizes the importance of business aviation in its 12th Five-Year Plan for 2011-2015, in which it pledges to continually enhance China's airspace management system.
Bolen pointed to the upcoming Asian Business Aviation Conference & Exhibition (ABACE) in Shanghai as a major opportunity available to business aviation interests in both the United States and China.
"ABACE will make China the center of the world's business aviation stage," Bolen said. "At the heart of this is an educational exchange. This is an opportunity for government officials, manufacturers, operators and the whole community to talk together, share ideas and exchange information on how we promote safety and security in our business aviation operations."
ABACE is a must-attend event because "it will facilitate the exchanges of ideas we have talked about here [during the panel discussion] today," Bolen said. "A lot of conversation has gone on about the importance of information exchange and the idea of public and private groups working together, particularly working together on things like safety."
This past June, NBAA solidified its commitment to supporting business aviation growth and development in China and across the Asian region by signing a five-year agreement with the Shanghai Airport Authority (SAA) guaranteeing ABACE will be hosted at the Shanghai Hongqiao Airport.
ABACE 2012, which takes place March 27 to 29, is expected to draw as many as 6,000 attendees and 200 exhibitors.