For the third successive year in recent times, the Asian Business Aviation Convention & Exhibition (ABACE)–which is organized by NBAA in conjunction with the Shanghai Airport Authority, the Asian Business Aviation Association and the Shanghai Exhibition Center–will return to Shanghai’s Hongqiao Airport. It will run from April 14 to 17 at Shanghai Hawker Pacific’s Business Aviation Centre FBO, and will feature a 43,000-sq-ft (4,000-sq-m) hangar, a 52,000-sq-ft (4,800-sq-m) exhibitor pavilion and extensive ramp area for the static display. Located only eight miles (13 km) from downtown Shanghai, Hongqiao is growing in stature as a mainstream business aviation airport.
Last year’s event illustrated how much business aviation has to offer China and the broader Asia-Pacific region, given the small but growing number of aircraft based in China. Visitor numbers last year (at 7,714) were 20 percent up on the previous year’s, and organizers expect a similar increase this year as the event grows in stature. Last year there were 180 exhibitors, about a quarter of them from the Asia-Pacific region, and 34 aircraft were on static display.
Jason Liao, NBAA’s representative in China and chairman and CEO of the China Business Aviation Group, predicts that ABACE could be as big as EBACE within three years.
Chinese airspace issues are likely to be a topic of discussion again this year, but the outlook is better now than it was 12 months ago, following further relaxation in control of lower airspace last December. Another key question surrounds what types of aircraft and rotorcraft will be of interest to buyers. Helicopters in particular are catching on in urban regions such as Shanghai.
In its member magazine Business Aviation Insider, NBAA will publish a special section for the event titled “Asia in Focus,” intended to “offer guidance of interest to ABACE attendees about the opportunities and challenges inherent in operating in the region.” NBAA president and CEO Ed Bolen is updating the association’s members on “the development of operating policies throughout the region, in consultation with top directors general from the Chinese government and other regional aviation authorities.”
“Entrepreneurs throughout the Asia-Pacific region are increasingly recognizing the potential of business aviation for helping companies of all sizes compete and succeed,” said an NBAA spokesman. “We know that these business leaders and other decision-makers are attending ABACE to learn more about what’s involved in using an aircraft for business,” he added. Another topic addressed will be “the possible benefits to the industry from the recent designation of ABACE host city Shanghai as a free-trade zone.”
At the time of writing, the speakers for the ABACE 2014 Opening General Session had yet to be announced, but there is already a good range of speakers and topics planned for the other conference sessions. Sessions include “Business Aviation Growth and Opportunities,” with speakers Jason Liao (China Business Aviation Group), Jeffrey Lowe (Asian Sky) and Mike Walsh (Asian Jet). One of the topics on the agenda is “Challenges for Asian operators flying into the U.S.: What to consider.”
The Civil Aviation Administration of China (CAAC) will present a symposium on China’s business aviation policy that brings together top-level regional, national and international officials to discuss issues in developing business aviation.
Another session will discuss the “core statement of principles” made recently by the Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation transportation ministers, intended to help accelerate opportunities in the region. Helicopter operations will get attention, with a session focusing on infrastructure “impediments and opportunities” and airspace accessibility, as well as workforce development and training. The formation of a China Helicopter Association will also be discussed.
Business aircraft safety and operations are also on the agenda, including “Operating into Asia from a pilot’s perspective,” a look at issues (parking, for example) in Hong Kong and India, and even planning for the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games.