Expected increase in demand for corporate aircraft prompts study of potential designs

China is considering developing an eight-seat light jet to meet anticipated demand for business aircraft from Chinese corporations.

The First Aircraft Design Institute (FADI) has formed a team to conduct a feasibility study on indigenous corporate aircraft that could be powered by either jet engines or propellers. The president of FADI subsidiary Xian General Aircraft Research Institute, Li Daming, says the study will be completed in October following discussions with several Chinese corporations interested in acquiring aircraft. “Some customers want jets; some propellers,” Li says.

FADI parent China Aviation Industries I (AVIC I) will decide whether to launch development of a business jet or turboprop after the study is completed. FADI’s general aviation team has developed several smaller piston-powered aircraft, including the two-seat LE-200 and five-seat LE-500.

But the proposed light jet would be the first indigenous product for China’s fledging business jet market, which now only consists of just three privately owned corporate aircraft – one Beechcraft Premier I owned by Hangzhou Daoyuan Chemical Fibre Group and operated by Hainan Airlines subsidiary Deer Jet, and two Cessna Citations owned by Broad Air Conditioning and operated by ZhongFei General Aviation Company.

Chinese corporations, however, have ordered several jets for delivery over the next two years and the market is expected to further expand as operating restrictions are loosened and corporations warm to the concept of using aircraft as a business tool.

Embraer, for example, estimates a market for 537 business jets in China, compared with the current 26, which includes charter and government aircraft. But Embraer China president Guan Dong Yuan warns a 23% import tax, which would give any new indigenous product a huge competitive advantage, must be reduced before the full market potential is realised.

Embraer could get around the import tax by having its joint venture with Harbin Aircraft, which now manufactures the Embraer ERJ-145 for Chinese airlines, produce the Legacy business jet.


Source: Flight International