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Faku flies high with light aircraft

Updated: 2014-08-28 07:01
By He Na and Liu Ce (China Daily)

With general aviation set to take off, big developments at airfield in Liaoning province, He Na and Liu Ce report from Shenyang.

Faku county near Shenyang, capital of Liaoning province, aims to be China's "light air capital" with an annual production of 1,000 small aircraft in five years.

Spurred by the burgeoning domestic private aircraft market, Faku is now a center for developing technology and talent in the industry.

Faku flies high with light aircraft

Faku field will serve as the model for China's other general aviation bases. Photo provided to China Daily

Faku general aviation field, one of the largest in the country, is also growing rapidly.

"A dozen general aviation-related research and production institutes and companies have set up shop at the field and several other projects are under discussion," said Wang Dawei, director of the administrative committee of the base.

The annual output value of businesses at the field is expected to reach 100 billion yuan ($16 billion) within five years, he said.

George Heintz (China) Aircraft Manufacturing Co, a branch of the US-based light aircraft producer, established a plant at the field with an investment of 1.65 billion yuan, Wang said.

Faku is the first place in Northeast China to make super-short takeoff and landing aircraft.

The first planes are due on the market in June, said Wang.

A general aviation club will also be set up at the field to train pilots.

Bai Yang, chairman of Liaoning Pacific Industrial Co, said his company has invested 560 million yuan at Faku on production facilities for light aircraft.

He hopes their first batch of planes will debut by the end of the year. He added the company has received about 900 orders.

Its main products are two and four-seat light aircraft, with the majority of the customers flight enthusiasts, he said.

"China has huge demand for light aircraft, and the development of the aircraft industry will also stimulate such industries as financial services, civil aviation and aviation logistics," Bai said.

Liu Yi, China's longest-serving pilot and chief pilot at the Liaoning Academy of General Aviation, said general aviation is the foundation of a country's aviation industry.

As a new, rapidly growing sector, it plays an important role in consolidating China's national defense and promoting economic development.

"But we still lag some distance behind many other countries, especially in training."

Bai said the industry started late in China.

"We must speed up the pace of developing experts and attach more importance to proprietary intellectual property research and development, design and production."

Faku field has the country's first experimental low-altitude airspace, or flying at heights lower than 1,000 meters.

Faku's experience will serve as the model for China's other general aviation bases.

The experimental base status gives Faku flexibility.

"Generally, a pilot must submit low-altitude flight plans to aviation authorities days or even a week ahead of time. But at our field, we only need to report plans two hours before a flight," said Feng Shouquan, Party chief of Faku county.

The field has areas for R&D, manufacturing, training and leisure tourism, he said.

Its has hosted one of the top three air shows in China, the Faku Flight International Conference, for the past two years.

It has included aerobatic pilots from more than 20 countries including the US, Canada, Britain and South Africa.

Contact the writers at hena@chinadaily.com.cn and liuce@chinadaily.com.cn.

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