XI'AN -- China's ancient capital Xi'an plans to offer visitors a bird's eye view of the city, officials said Wednesday.
For 50 million yuan ($7.15 million), China Aviation Industrial Base in Yanliang, an outlying district about 50 kilometers from downtown Xi'an, plans to buy five to eight helicopters and fixed-wing aircraft that will fly tourists at altitudes of 200 to 3,000 meters, said project manager Gao Liting.
"A ride will last 30 minutes to two hours and will take sightseers over the sacred Daoist mountain Huashan, the mausoleum of the legendary Yellow Emperor and the Hukou Waterfalls in the Yellow River," he said. "Tourists can also try parachute jumps, shoot videos and even do some flying."
Gao said the base was negotiating with potential investors, including foreign aircraft manufacturers, travel companies and domestic business owners who are interested in the project.
He said specific plans would be unveiled before the end of this year.
Part of the plan will include opening one of the country's leading aircraft makers, Xi'an Aircraft Industry Group, to tourists, said Jin Qiansheng, director of the Yanliang aviation base.
"According to the developed countries' experience, more people choose to travel by air when per capita GDP exceeds $2,000; when the figure tops $4,000, there's a growing demand for private planes," said Jin.
He said China's aviation industry would therefore expect another boom when per capita GDP tops $4,000, "presumably in 2012".