Textron Aviation units Cessna, Beechcraft and Bell Helicopter had a strong presence at this year’s ABACE show in Shanghai, with several aircraft types on static display including the venerable Beechcraft Baron and Bonanza, which appeared at the show for the first time.
The first Caravan EX to emerge from the Cessna’s joint venture with AVIC was also on display, and the company used the show to announce a ten Caravan deal with Reignwood Group, which will equip the aircraft with floats for tourism flights in southeast China.
The company also announced that the Citation XLS+ private jet has received validation from the Civil Aviation Administration of China (CAAC).
William Schultz, Cessna’s Shanghai-based senior vice president for business development in China, spoke to Flight International in the Cessna chalet.
He says the central government is committed to opening up general and business aviation in the country, and that the nation’s regional governments have embraced this as they see it as an avenue for economic growth.
Still, this growing support of private aviation in the country will not immediately equate to conditions prevalent in western countries, where light aircraft can be flown by individuals with relatively few restrictions. For operators of larger aircraft such as private jets, however, the process of gaining flight approvals is being greatly streamlined.
“The government recognises that general aviation is an important part of overall transport,” Schultz says. “All the ingredients are there for the market to emerge.”
He says that Cessna recently conducted a series of customer demonstration flights around the country with a Citation business jet, and that flight clearances were relatively straightforward.
Schultz also had warm words for the company’s efforts with AVIC. Although the joint venture that produces the Caravan aircraft in Shijiazhuang is currently restricted to downstream work – specifically, painting – in time it will undertake more advanced assembly tasks, currently all done in Wichita.
Eventually Schultz says the joint venture will receive an FAA production certificate. He would not, however, disclose a forecast for the number of aircraft the joint venture will eventually produce, saying only that “we’ll match production to demand.”
Cessna’s other AVIC joint venture, which will produce the Citation XLS+ in Zhuhai, is expecting its business licence in July.
“The facilities are being built out, the applications for the business licences have been submitted,” he says.
Schultz says the factory is nearly complete and initial employees for the joint venture are undergoing training. He expects the first aircraft delivery from this joint venture to take place at this year’s Zhuhai air show.