Chinese general aviation operators and foreign manufacturers are seeking to establish an association in China to lobby the government to remove impediments blocking growth of the country’s fledging general aviation industry.
Rockwell Collins managing director for China Martin Lin says for general aviation to grow in China the government must reduce the tax on imported aircraft, loosen restrictions on foreign investment and transfer control of the airspace from the military to civilian agencies. “We need a China GAMA [General Aviation Manufacturers Association],” Lin told the forum. “If there is no airspace there is no general aviation. These are really urgent issues.”
Textron business development manager for China, George Geng, says general aviation operators should join foreign manufacturers to push for reforms and offset Chinese manufacturers and airlines, which have the power to influence regulations.
“We don’t have the power,” Geng says. “We need an association not only for manufacturers, but also operators…to give the government some sort of advice.”
Textron subsidiary Cessna is one of several general aviation manufacturers that are looking to follow Austria’s Diamond Aircraft in setting up manufacturing facilities in China. Local operators seek to acquire Western aircraft, but generally cannot afford a 23% import tax and are reluctant to acquire the indigenous products that the tax is designed to protect.
There are an estimated 400 general aviation aircraft in China, most of which were locally built, but Francis Chao, managing director of US-Chinese consulting firm Uniworld, estimates 200 aircraft are currently not flying. He says:“Chinese general aviation started a half century ago, but is still in its infant stage.” Beijing is not doing enough to encourage general aviation growth, he adds.