Professor Yu Yi, an associate professor of general aviation department at CivilAviation Management Institute of China, presented at Access ChinaConference 2017 on 11 January on China’s general aviation (GA) industry. Wesummarize below our key takeaways from the presentation:China’s emerging GA industryOverall, with the Chinese government now positioning GA (non-military andnon-commercial airlines) as a new “strategic” industry, Prof. Yu sees hugepotential during the 13th FYP period. Although China has led the world in manyother transportation modes, the country has significantly lagged behind in GAdevelopment (GA fleet, flying hours, etc.). The logic behind the government’sdecision to promote the development of the GA industry is simple: GAdevelopment can propel economic growth in three aspects, including 1)boosting investment (1 dollar of GA investment can drive 8.24 dollars ofeconomic output in China); 2) consumption upgrades (e.g. air tour, air medicalservices and short-distance transportation); and 3) promoting entrepreneurship(investment is mostly driven by the private sector).
Investment opportunities alongside the supply chainDuring the 13th FYP period, China aims to 1) add a total GA fleet of 2,719 units(market size: Rmb86.5bn); 2) conduct total flying hours of 700,000 hours(market size: Rmb50bn); and 3) build and upgrade 300 GA airports (Rmb60bn)over 2016-20. These three targets combined will generate a total market size ofc.Rmb200bn during this FYP period. Prof. Yu believes the government’stargets for GA fleet and flying hours may prove to be challenging but the targetfor GA airports should be more than achievable as such investment is mainlydriven by local government and they show strong interest. In fact, the totalnumber of planned GA airports has already exceeded 1,000 at the localgovernment level. In addition, the government is planning to simplify theapproval process for GA airport construction and the policy is likely to beunveiled this year, after which the construction of GA airport should speed up.
Key challengesProf. Yu believes low-altitude airspace control remains a key challengehindering China’s GA industry development as only 23% of China’s airspace isopened to civil use, which is prioritized for commercial aviation. Althoughvarious government entities have been pushing for airspace reform since the12th FYP period, little progress has been made so far. Looking ahead, Prof. Yubelieves a full-fledged relaxation seems unlikely during the 13th FYP period, butin selective regions airspace reform may be likely.