A roster of leading aviation officials from the Asia and the United States took the stage yesterday for the opening session of ABACE 2014, welcoming attendees and exhibitors to what Li Derun, president, Shanghai Airport Authority (SAA), called “the must-attend event” for the business aviation industry.
This third edition of the three-day exposition features displays by 187 exhibitors–73 of them Asia-based–and static displays of 38 business jets, turboprops, helicopters and for the first time, piston-powered airplanes. “That means we have the full spectrum of general aviation represented here,” said Ed Bolen, president and CEO of NBAA. The U.S. Association stages the event in partnership with SAA, with the Asian Business Aviation Association as cohost.
Highlighting the strong growth of business aviation in the Republic, Wang Zhiqing, deputy administrator, Civil Aviation Administration of China (CAAC), said that as of the end of 2013, China had 189 general aviation companies, a 41-percent increase over the previous year’s figure, while the fleet had increased 23.4 percent to 1,654 aircraft, with total general aviation flight time increasing 10 percent, to 569,000 hours.
However, after the past three years of rapid growth for general aviation, “momentum is slowing down,” Wang said, and he vowed CAAC will work to keep the industry expanding swiftly. “The essence of business aviation is fast and efficient transportation. It is not a luxury,” he said.
After being welcomed to the podium by Jing Yiming, SAA vice-president and master of ceremonies, Michael Huerta, U.S. Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) administrator, noted that while general aviation in China is relatively young, it is “poised for tremendous growth.” He called for “complimentary relationship and effective partnerships in order to ensure” the sector’s safe expansion.
Huerta noted recent FAA initiatives to improve both safety and efficiency, such as Advisory Circulars addressing fatigue-risk management and the acceleration of the implementation of the NextGen air traffic control system, aimed at allowing air traffic to “move more efficiently while improving flight times and reducing emissions.”
Masaaki Kai, senior deputy director general, Japan Civil Aviation Bureau, pointed to changes his government is taking to make Japan more business-aviation friendly. These measures include easing rules for Part 135 charter flights, and improvements for business aviation at Narita Haneda, Central Japan and Kansai International Airports, as well as the airports at Kobe and Nagoya.
“I have to admit the scale of business aviation in Japan is still very small,” Kai said, but emphasized the country sees support for business aviation “as part of a national growth strategy.”