China’s installed fleet of business jets is still relatively small. But evidence of how quickly this could change came at last October’s International General Aviation Convention (IGAC) held in Xi’an, when no fewer than 35 contracts with a collective value of around $1.5 billion were signed covering general aviation aircraft and investments in associated new businesses.
Almost immediately afterward, on October 25, Beijing officials announced the first general aviation manufacturing company in the city as a cooperative venture between the Beijing Automotive Group and Beihang University of Aeronautics and Astronautics. The new firm will manufacture and sell as-yet-unspecified aircraft as well as offer research-and-development services.
Private aircraft ownership has been permitted since 2003, but was officially sanctioned last year when China’s State Council and the Central Military Commission deemed part of the country’s low-altitude airspace to be open to civilian fights. The government indicated that it would “thoroughly” open airspace across the country by 2015 at the end of the current five-year plan.