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After growing government support for the sector in recent years, both domestic and foreign companies are looking for business opportunities in China's general aviation.
The growing potential will be a hot issue at the 9th China International Aviation and Aerospace Exhibition that will open in Zhuhai, Guangdong province on Tuesday. The event is expected to host more than 30 exhibitors in the general aviation industry, a wide-ranging field that includes gliders and powered parachutes as well as private and business aircraft.
Some 502,700 hours of flight were recorded in China's general aviation in 2011, a number expected to rise to 2 million hours by 2020, said an announcement by the central government released in July.
Controlled airspace has been a limiting factor for the industry, but reform of the regulations on low-altitude airspace is expected to start by 2015 and completed by 2020, said Du Qiang, deputy secretary of the National Air Management Traffic Committee.
Helicopters and business jets will be the main focus of the industry in China, say insiders.
"My opinion is that helicopters and big business jets will have good demand in the China market," said Briand Gree, president of aerospace Asia and Pacific of Honeywell (China).
He said that because the Chinese government has the capability to invest in needed infrastructure, the market for helicopters used in public services will also expand.
Also, Chinese consumers prefer the big business jets for private or business flying, he added.
Business uses led the growth in the civil aviation industry in China with a 28 percent rise in 2011, said Li Jiaxiang, head of the Civil Aviation Administration of China.
Bombardier Inc, the world's third-largest aircraft manufacturer and one of the main producers of business jets, has delivered 82 of its aircraft to Chinese customers. "Our business jets are in short supply in China," said Zhang Jianwei, president of Bombardier China.
Chinese businesses are also preparing for opening of the market. "I know more than 40 enterprises have applied for operating business jets," said an insider who declined to be identified. They are now awaiting permits from authorities, he added.
"Our business is pretty good and the aircraft can fly every day," said Wei Yuhang, marketing manager of business department of Hanhwa Business Jet Airlines, which is based in Dalian, Liaoning province and now runs three aircraft.
Although demand for business jets slowed this year due to the struggling global economy, it will experience long-term expansion he said.
Li Jiang, sales director of Deer Jet Co Ltd, the country's largest business jet company, said growth hit 48 percent in 2009, but will slow to around 20 percent this year.
Yet the demand from the mining, commercial real estate and manufacturing industries is still strong enough to support operation of business jets in China, he added.