Xian research insitutute in talks with Cessna and Cirrus in bid to develop aviation technology park

China is trying to attract major general aviation manufacturers to the central Chinese city of Xian to jointly produce small aircraft for the fast-growing local market.

Xian General Aircraft Research Institute (XGARI) says it has begun discussions with several foreign manufacturers, including Cessna and Cirrus, interested in producing existing models in China or jointly developing new aircraft.

“It’s a nearly empty market in China. Only 350 [GA] aircraft are flying. We need more,” says XGARI president Li Daming. “The market demand is urgent. We welcome a Western manufacturer to do joint design or joint manufacturing.”

Beijing is supporting Xian as the future base for China’s general aviation manufacturing industry and is encouraging foreign manufacturers to set up at the new Xian Aviation Technology Park, says Li, but he acknowledges several other cities and provinces in China are also trying to set up general aviation manufacturing centres and attract foreign manufacturers.

Binzhou in Shandong province, for example, has attracted Diamond Aircraft and is trying to woo more companies to what is dubbed China’s first pure general aviation airport. Li says more than 15 local governments visited XGARI last year to determine if they could also produce small aircraft. But Xian is the most logical site, he says, because it already has many aerospace workers and testing facilities. “In Binzhou it’s difficult to find suitable people to design and test,” he says.

XGARI has already developed the indigenous LE-500 four/five-seat aircraft, which is now being produced in Shijiazhuang, and may develop new variants with up to 10 seats. But Li says local general aviation operators, in particular pilot training schools, are encouraging Chinese manufacturers to offer more new designs. If Chinese manufacturers can work with foreign manufacturers, Li believes these operators will be able to meet their expansion requirements without having to import aircraft, which entails shipping costs and import taxes.

Several foreign manufacturers have approached XGARI, he says, but are often only interested in boosting sales in China rather than using some of China’s 500,000 aerospace employees whose jobs depend on new projects. “Both should join in a programme and profit. Sometimes foreign companies don’t understand this,” Li says. “A lot of foreign companies just want to sell.”


Source: Flight International