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Copters rotate China's economy up
( 2003-09-16 10:13) (China Daily)

China should focus its attention on the development of general-use helicopters in the coming year, a senior aviation official said.

"Development of the general-use helicopters could help foster a new growth area in the economy," said Liang Zhenhe, deputy general manager with China Aviation Industry Corporation II (AVIC II), which makes almost all of the country's helicopters.

According to the company's statistics, a total of 8,054 general-use helicopters valued at about US$19 billion will be produced across the world between 1997 and 2006.

"This means a single helicopter costs an average of US$2.36 million," Liang said.

A report by China Aviation System Engineering Institute said demand for all types of general-use helicopters in China will reach 1,867 by 2013.

"If China manufactures enough helicopters to meet demand, the output value of the country's helicopter industry reach about US$4.9 billion," Liang said.

Experiences from foreign countries suggest that user fees for a helicopter are usually 2.5 to 3 times that of the cost of the helicopter.

"China's helicopter manufacturing industry could generate as much as US$15 billion in output value, when calculating the use fees," he said.

The value could be even higher when including the added value and job opportunities created by using helicopters.

Development of the helicopter industry will also promote development of other related industries such as new materials, new technologies and new products, he said.

Presently, about 40,000 helicopters are in operation across the world, of which about 23,000 are general-use helicopters.

"This means every 1 million people own 3.9 general-use helicopters," Liang said.

In the United States, where helicopters are widely used, some 10,560 general-use helicopters are in operation.

In Canada, every 1 million people own 54.1 helicopters.

Compared with foreign countries, the frequency of using helicopters in China is quite low.

China now has less than 80 helicopters in operation for general use, which means that for every 1 million people, there are only 0.06 helicopters.

Meanwhile, about 97 per cent of China's helicopters for general aviation use are imported.

"The absence of Chinese-made helicopters in the country's general aviation sector is not because domestically produced helicopters are of low quality, but because China's general aviation market has been all but disallowed from using helicopters," Liang said.

China's helicopter industry started at the end of 1950s.

By the mid-1970s, the country had conducted research on helicopter models Zhi-5, Zhi-6, Zhi-7 and Yan'an 2.

Many types of helicopter models have been produced based on Zhi-8 and Zhi-9 models.

The Zhi-8 and Zhi-9 helicopter models were modelled on the French Dolphin helicopter.

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