Every business aircraft manufacture in the world have been salivating at the prospect of tapping into the potentially gigantic Chinese general aviation market. China's restrictive government regulation governing the movement of private aircraft and lack of infrastructure are holding back the gold rush. But major changes are on the horizon.
During the just concluded China Civil Aviation Planning & Airport Working Meeting, the "China Civil Aviation Development Twelfth Five-Year Plan" was published. (http://bit.ly/Tkq3O3) The Plan showed that in the ‘Twelfth Five-Year Plan period China planned to introduce 1,500 commercial aircraft and 1,000 general aviation aircraft. During the same period the number of airports will reach more than 230 by 2015.
China plans to build 56 new airports, relocate 16 airports and renovate and or expand 91 airports. This infrastructure investment program is expected to cost in excess of 425 billion Yuan. The main goal is to supply China airports & commercial airlines with state of the art aviation technology, a world class airport operating enviroment, and to greatly increase the availability and use of business aircraft and related ground services.
The business aviation market in China is still in its infancy compared with western countries. There are more than 19,000 business jets in the United States, while in China there are only approximately 200 Business aircraft. There is no lack of individuals and businesses eager to travel by business aircraft within China. The main obstacle is the Chinese military which controls most of China's airspace has been slow to open the airspace and implement more liberal travel rights to private aircraft . Lack of an FBO network and the knowledge of business aviation methods and procedures are also slowing progress in this area.
The Chinese central government's twelfth five year plan calls for the country to conditionally open low altitude flights to private aircraft. Once the infrastructure and new regulations are in place analysts predict the business aviation market in China could hit one trillion yuan in five years.
The recent China Regional Airport Development & Expansion Summit set priority's for China's regional airports development and expansion. The plan puts an emphasis on the construction of regional airports in an attempt to address over capacity issues at major airports. In addition to creating a network of smaller regional airports.
The goal is to ensure that more than 80% of the population is within a distance of 100 km of public air service, the new airport construction will mostly occur in the central china and the eastern frontier region.
Shanghai's, Pudong Airport is building two more runways - the 4th and 5th - partly to meet the growing needs of business aviation by 2014. There will be a total of five runways at Pudong Airport, and another two at Hongqiao.
Jing Yiming, vice president of Shanghai Airport Authority, has stated, "There is no conflict between civil aviation and business aviation. If we manage them well, we can improve the efficiency of our airports." the new runways will also help improve the on-time rate of commercial flights and increase throughput at both of Shanghai's airports.
Li Jiaxiang, chief of the Civil Aviation Administration of China (CAAC) has listed five priorities to increase the efficiency in commercial air travel.
China has become the second largest aviation market in the world. However, since the momentum of rapid growth is expected to continue for a long time to come, there will be a huge demand for skilled workers in the sector.
Li said, "Currently, the industry is in need of roughly 50,000 professional and technical personnel annually. In view of the mere 20,000 graduates from various civil aviation educational institutions in the country, we are facing a widening talent gap."
Another 1,500 commercial aircraft and 1,000 general aviation aircraft will be introduced during the period. At a national average, one newly introduced aircraft will require as much as 150 professional personnel specialized in different aspects; however, it is difficult for the current talent cultivation system to meet the market demand.
Sun Xuan, vice-president of Shanghai Civil Aviation College. said "The shortfall in talents is basically driven by the rapid expansion of civil aviation market, the long periodicity of personnel training, and a general lack of personnel in high-tech application fields", With air travel becoming more and more popular among people, the talent cultivation system of civil aviation industry is lagging behind the increase of aircraft.
According to Li, CAAC has introduced the Advice on Enhancing Civil Aviation Science and Education, emphasizing on implementing the strategy of reinvigorating civil aviation through science and education and strengthening the industry through human resource development. Moreover, a civil aviation science and education investment mechanism has been established, with investments expected to exceed 3 billion yuan during the Twelfth-Five Year Plan period.
If the Chinese authorities keep to the five year plan and spend the money on the infrastructure, and personnel training the military will have little choice but to open airspace and relax the movement of private aircraft. At that point, barring a global recession the much hyped China general aviation aircraft market should live up to expectations.
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