Beijing Automotive Group, or BAIC Group, will soon start development and manufacturing of general aviation aircraft, Xu Heyi, chairman of the BAIC Group and a Beijing delegate, said during the ongoing session of the 12th National People's Congress.
China is expected to officially release a policy to lift the ban on the use of low-altitude airspace below 1,000 meters to general aviation flights in May this year, and BAIC Group will begin research and development activities to build reliable general aviation aircraft, Xu said.
In 2011, BAIC and Beijing University of Aeronautics & Astronautics jointly set up Beijing General Aviation (Group) Ltd, a Beijing-based company with a registered capital of 100 million yuan ($15.9 million) and will focus on the development and sales of general aviation aircraft, Xu said.
with a solid foundation laid down in 2013, the company hopes to generate revenue of 10 billion yuan next year, Xu said, adding that entering the general aviation sector is a strategic decision made by BAIC to enhance its future competitiveness.
BAIC will also focus on the other two fields in the future: medium- to high-end petrol-powered vehicles and new-energy automobiles.
China currently owns only around 1,050 general aviation aircraft, while the United States has a total of 230,000. The general aviation industry in the United States registers an annual revenue of $150 billion, accounting for 1 percent of its gross domestic product, creating about 1.26 million jobs.
General aviation covers all civil aviation operations except for scheduled commercial airline activities. This may include such activities as charter operators, aero-medical operators, agricultural aviation businesses, aviation-based fire-fighting services, training and aerial work such as aerial photography and surveying. It also includes private, business, recreational and sports aviation activities and supporting businesses such as maintenance providers.
BAIC sold 1.7 million vehicles in 2012, up 10.3 percent year-on-year despite a slowing economy and stagnant market sales growth.