China Aviation Industry (AVIC) I will start making general aviation aircraft and its first target market will be the USA rather than China.

China's flying schools have been importing a significant number of training aircraft but currently AVIC I makes no general aviation aircraft while, for flying schools, AVIC II has just the LE-500 Little Eagle.

AVIC I executive vice president Hu Wenming says a general aviation aircraft department has been formed. "We are currently in the study and research" phase, he says.

"Actually we think the biggest market for general aviation aircraft is the USA", says Hu, adding that the USA will be AVIC's first target market.

But Hu says AVIC I anticipates longer-term that Chinese regulators will open up more airspace for general aviation so "China will be an important part of our [general aviation sales] strategy we have to" start making general aviation aircraft "to prepare for this bigger future".

He says even though AVIC I currently makes no general aviation aircraft, it was AVIC I's First Aircraft Design unit that designed the LE-500 Little Eagle that is today manufactured by AVIC II's Shijiazhuang Aircraft Industries.

AVIC II is also planning to make a major push into general aviation. President of AVIC II, Zhang Hongbiao, says AVIC II plans to bring together its subsidiaries Harbin Aircraft and Shijiazhuang Aircraft Industries. He says these two will take lead role in for development of regional and general aviation aircraft within the organisation.

"In the proper time we will unite Shijiazhuang Aircraft with Harbin Aircraft. Shijiazhuang will be the base for production of general aviation aircraft and Harbin Aircraft will play a role as the design base for general aviation," Zhang adds.

AVIC II subsidiary "Hongdu Aviation Industry has some capability in agriculture Hongdu could buy some shares and enter into this new scheme of company", says Zhang.

Harbin Aircraft has experience in GA - it designed the Harbin Y-12, a 19-seat turboprop that has received EASA and US FAA certification and been exported overseas, he adds.

Source: Flight International