China / Society

Country's first airpark set to take off soon

By Zhao Lei (China Daily) Updated: 2016-10-05 07:45

China's first aviation theme park will open to the public soon, according to Aviation Industry Corp of China, the nation's leading aircraft maker.

Infrastructure construction work has been completed at the 30-square-kilometer AVIC Airpark in Jingmen in Central China's Hubei province, said a news release from the aviation conglomerate in Beijing.

The airpark has the largest general aviation airport in Central China, Zhanghe Airport, which has one 1,800-meter-long runway and another 800-meters-long. It also has a designated area on the surface of the Zhanghe Reservoir that can be used by seaplanes to land and take off.

The opening of the park will help boost development of China's general aviation and strengthen public interest and awareness of the sector, the news release said. It added that when completed, the park's five sections will feature commercial flight services, general aviation manufacturing, aviation tourism, aviation research and development, and cultural industries.

General aviation refers to civil aviation operations rather than scheduled air services.

The Jingmen airpark will host a range of general aviation facilities, such as hangars, pilot training schools, aeronautical service facilities, fliers' clubs and aviation museums, according to Song Qingguo, general manager of China Aviation Industry General Aircraft Co, which is owned by AVIC, who participated in the planning and building.

It also aims to become the country's largest test and manufacturing base for special aircraft, and to dominate Central China's general aviation services market.

Song said an AVIC aircraft assembly plant is being built in the airpark, and that it will be capable of producing about 500 lightweight sport planes a year.

AVIC plans to establish 50 such airparks nationwide to promote aviation culture and accelerate the growth of general aviation industries, which have long been ignored in China.

The United States, which operates more than 300,000 general aviation aircrafts, has at least 21,000 airports and landing points dedicated to such planes, along with nearly 10,000 maintenance stations.

By contrast, the Chinese mainland has less than 300 general aviation airports and landing points, and few maintenance and support facilities, according to Wang Ya'nan, editor-in-chief of Aerospace Knowledge magazine.

Joon Dauplaise, director of emerging markets at US manufacturer Cirrus Aircraft, was quoted by Xinhua News Agency as saying that the US has about 600 aviation communities that combine entertainment with business functions, and with the opening-up of China's general aviation market and the development of advanced equipment manufacturing, there is enormous potential for aviation parks in the country.

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