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More efforts needed to promote general aviation industry

Updated: Nov 23,2014 9:13 AM     Xinhua

BEIJING — More efforts should be made to promote the “fast and healthy” growth of China’s general aviation industry and make it contribute more to the economic and social development as well as national defense, Vice-Premier Ma Kai said on Nov 22.

Ma made the remarks at an industry meeting on low-altitude airspace management reform, saying this reform has entered a “crucial stage and many problems remain to be solved.”

The reform should aim at promoting the development of general aviation sector and meeting people’s needs, and focus on building a safe, efficient and convenient low-altitude airspace management mode and supporting system, he added.

China has a total number of 226 general aviation companies and 1,786 general aircraft including helicopters, according to the Civil Aviation Administration of China (CAAC).

It is expected that China’s general aircraft will surpass 5,000 by 2020, with an annual growth rate at around 19 percent, representing a new economic engine and an industry with potential market demand at $15.5 billion, said CAAC deputy director Wang Zhiqing.

General aviation refers to all civil aviation operations other than scheduled air services, and general aircraft range from helicopters to private jets.

General aircraft can fly in the low-altitude airspace below 1,000 meters in China and policymakers are mulling over lifting that altitude.

“The bottlenecks facing the general aviation industry are not only airspace resources, but also a lack of general aviation airports, temporary landing sites, fuel supply and pilots,” Wang said.

China has only 65 general aviation airports, about 300 temporary landing sites and only one oil refiner producing general aviation fuel, CAAC figures showed.