While business aviation manufacturers scramble to take advantage of the potential growth in the Chinese market, the country appears to be gearing up to fulfil its ambition of being a major player in the sector.

Speaking in a 3 May analysts call, Embraer chief executive Frederico Curado revealed the existence of a request for proposals from the Chinese government seeking a Western partner for the production of business aircraft.

Although no further details of the RFP were available, Curado said that the Brazilian airframer was considering its response.

It has recently announced the conversion of its Harbin factory - a joint venture with Chinese company AVIC - to produce its Legacy 600 and 650 aircraft.

Curado said the site gives the company an opportunity to "strike first" in the country but added that Harbin would not give the company any advantage with the RFP.

He said: "I would love to say that being a partner of AVIC gives us preferential treatment but we are in the same position as everyone else. I can't say we have any special leverage because of Harbin."

In Curado's view, China is looking to produce a cheaper alternative to Western products. He added: "I foresee one day a Chinese indigenous business jet, either developed by themselves or with someone else."

The issue will become clearer within 12-24 months, he said.

China has around 100 business aircraft in operation and airframers view the country as a massive sales opportunity.

Dassault said: "China has emerged as a strong market for business aviation, even the most active for us at the time being.

"China is also very ambitious and there is no secret that they would like to enter the market as a major player in the long term."

Dassault has sold more than 10 of its long-range Falcon 7Xs into the country so far this year, with some part-manufactured locally.

"We'll consider any other opportunity in the future but no decision has been made so far," the company added.

Cessna also has a presence in China, having sold 26 Citations into the market. It has a manufacturing agreement with Shenyang Aircraft, which produces its Model 162 Skycatcher light sports aircraft.

Source: Flight International