by Xinhua Writers Hu Tao, Mao Haifeng, Yu Li
BEIJING, March 7 (Xinhua) -- "The Chinese government has announced its decision to promote the general aviation industry. It is definitely easing my mind," said Deng Bin, considered the "first man" to own a private plane in China, as well as a pilot trainer and an industry insider.
In China's annual parliamentary session held in Beijing, the Chinese government said in its 12th Five-Year Plan for 2011-2015 period that it would promote the general aviation industry's development, reform the airspace management system as well as increase the efficiency of the allocation and utilization of airspace resources.
BOOMING MARKET, FAST-MOVING VISIONARY
It is estimated by China's civil aviation authorities that by 2012 China would need 10,000 to 12,000 aircraft in the general aviation field . The related industries, led by the booming general aviation industry, would form a huge market valued at about 1 trillion yuan (about 152.3 billion U.S. dollars).
"The early bird catches the worm. I am now mapping the investment in the general aviation industry, especially in the private plane chains," said Dengbin, the president of a high-tech company and a private plane club owner in Chengdu, southwest China's Sichuan Province.
Deng has planned to invest over 200 million yuan to create an advanced world-level general aviation base with pilot training and private plane maintenance. The project has already been approved by the government and is expected to be operational by the end of the year.
"After dozens of years of dreaming, I finally can see the day when I can realize it," said Deng, who was an airplane manufacturing major in college in the 1980's and received his pilot license for a private plane as early as in 2003 .
FLYING DREAM, MARCHING ON THE WAY
In fact, Deng's "flying dream" was also popular among other Chinese, especially the nouveaux riches.
However, while super-rich had no problem creating amazing fortunes, the Chinese super-rich have long been struggling to enjoy the fun of flying private planes, as their western counterparts do.
China's low-altitude airspace is controlled by the Air Force and the Civil Aviation Administration of China (CAAC). Private flights need approval each time they take off, and filing for approval can take a day or even a week, which hampers full-fledged demand for private jets.
"I have to either find a vast expanse of wildness or fly up to the top of some obscure hill. That is how I fly in my private jet," said a newly rich man surnamed Gan in Sichuan Province. He bought a helicopter in 2008.
On November 2010 China's State Council and the Central Military Commission jointly released an order to open part of its low-altitude airspace to promote the country's general aviation sector, including the purchase and use of private planes.
"That document lifted the ban on airspace, and the newly-released Five-Year Plan drew the curtain open, creating the spring of the general aviation industry," said Meng Xiangkai, manager of the General Aircraft CO., Ltd. of the Aviation Industry Corporation of China (AVIC).
LONG-TERM VISION, AMBITIOUS GOAL
"The good news has alerted enterprises at home and abroad to step forward as soon as possible to embrace the huge market, including both private customers and commercial customers," said Meng.
Insiders said, however, that this is a long term proposition for China's general aviation industry as there are years of struggle ahead.
"To ensure the healthy development of China's general aviation industry, we should form a complete set of auxiliary projects and chain industries," said Jin Qiansheng, head of X'an Yanliang national aviation hi-tech industrial base.
He noted that, except for opening up low-altitude airspace, China needs to draw up a set of management polices and industry standards. Moreover, a chain of supervision on operation, safety procedures and risk management systems needs to be put in place.
"With the guidance of the government, the booming new industry of general aviation will definitely become a new economic growth point in China' s economy," said Jin.
Special Report: NPC, CPPCC Annual Sessions 2011