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China has fewer than 4,000 helicopters and light aircraft, according to the U.S.-based General Aviation Manufacturers Association - fewer than New Zealand, and a fraction of the 210,000 aircraft operating in the U.S.
But that is changing. China’s leaders have decided to promote general aviation - air services spanning leisure and transportation, logistics and emergency services - to befit the world’s second-largest economy.
The reforms promise a bonanza for aircraft makers, air base operators and infrastructure developers.
Orders are rolling in. Textron Aviation Inc.’s Bell Helicopter has this year scooped up two big China orders for 150 aircraft, potentially worth $350m at list prices. Last year, Airbus Group Inc.’s helicopter division secured a 100-aircraft contract worth $790m, and agreed to set up a local assembly line in the northeast city of Qingdao. Textron’s Cessna Aircraft Co., which set up a local production line for its Caravan utility airplane in 2013, recently announced its 100th delivery in China.
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