Cessna and the Aviation Industry Corp. of China (AVIC) are in "exploratory" talks regarding possible collaboration on a business jet. The talks reportedly revolve around joint design and production of such an aircraft. Cessna has already developed ties in China, where its Skycatcher LSA is produced by Shenyang Aircraft Corp. The company's interest in forming a joint venture to produce business aircraft is not unique. AVIC is holding talks with multiple airframe manufacturers, including Hawker Beechcraft, the Wichita Eagle reported Wednesday. Decisions about partnerships could start to roll in before year-end.
U.S. manufacturers are seeking footholds in (what their forecasts predict to become) a booming Asian market. Aside from forming allegiances, significant hurdles still exist. But plans are already in place to address some of those. China's aviation industry has been curbed by strict airspace rules and a general lack of infrastructure, including airports and FBOs. By 2020, China expects to open more than 50 new airports. It has already begun tests of relaxed airspace rules for low-altitude operations. Chinese involvement in Cessna's Skycatcher, the recent acquisition of Cirrus by China Aviation Industry General Aircraft Co., and talks with multiple larger airframe manufacturers suggest that the country is increasing its focus on civil aviation. And, even if it isn't, most of the deals appear to be strategically sound, at least in the area of new business development.