AIN Blog: China Embraces General Aviation

 - October 29, 2011, 3:47 AM

Another NBAA Convention is history, and not surprisingly the association pronounced it an “outstanding success” by every yardstick. Attendance was up by 7 percent over last year, as was the number of exhibitors.

A total of 101 aircraft were on display, including 85 at the sold-out static display of aircraft at Las Vegas Henderson Executive Airport, five more inside the Las Vegas Convention Center and 11 additional aircraft at the first-ever outdoor static park next to the exhibition halls.

And, while Honeywell’s annual Business Aviation Outlook held out hope for a moderate industry recovery beginning in 2012, many eyes were looking toward the East for signs of industry resuscitation. Far to the East

-­­as in China.

Several Chinese consultants highlighted opportunities in China for business jet sales, with a market for at least 1,000 business aircraft over the next decade. They pointed to the rapid growth of the installed fleet over the past three years, citing figures of 28 jets in 2008, 46 in 2009 and more than 90 this year.

And the Chinese are not content just to buy their aircraft from Western nations. On Tuesday, Beijing set up its first general aviation manufacturing company to provide research and development, manufacturing, sales, and operations in the Chinese capital. Beijing General Aviation Group was co-founded by Beijing Automotive Group (BAIC), which provided $15.7 million, and Beijing University of Aeronautics and Astronautics, which is contributing its technological expertise.

According to China Daily, the two sides set four goals: building up R&D capabilities; “industrializing” GA engines, avionics equipment and GA aircraft; “synchronizing” the technology to the world’s most advanced levels by cooperating with foreign companies; and forming a complete industrial chain.

The newspaper quoted Zhu Suiyu, director of the industrial layout office of Beijing Automotive Group, as saying that the automotive and aviation industries are two complementary industries that have similar technologies in many respects, especially in their power systems, and BAIC has a strong technology background in GA.

The Chinese government said in its 12th five-year-plan for the 2011-2015 time period that it would promote the general aviation industry’s development, reform the airspace management system and increase the efficiency of the allocation use of airspace resources. It has been estimated that China will need more than 9,000 general aviation aircraft by about 2020.