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Want to fly? Now it's easy for you to try
( 2003-10-13 09:53) (China Daily)

Anyone can enjoy the fun of learning to fly without spending a fortune in Shanghai, Guangdong Province or in Vancouver, Canada, because of a new flight training programme.

To encourage private flight training in the Chinese market, four flight-training companies - Shanghai Eastern Aviation Educational Training Co Ltd, Guangdong General Aviation Company Ltd, Guangdong Baiyun General Aviation Company Ltd and Montair Flying School in Canada - have teamed up based on China as a great potential market for private-flight training. They cite its booming economy and improved living standards.

The training expenses vary depending on the type of aircraft flown, ranging from 35,000 yuan (US$4,232) to dozens of thousand yuan for one semester classes.

"Private flight training has a great market potential internationally," said Wang Jinhua, vice-manager with the South China's Guangdong General Aviation Company Ltd who has been involved with private flight training in the Pearl River Delta region for about five years.

He said most people still think flying an aircraft is out of the realm of possibility, and therefore the market has not matured.

A lot of promotion and advertising will have to be done, Wang said.

Chinese authorities this May launched new regulations for general aviation flight management which should help popularize private flying.

According to a Chinese News Agency report, Zhang Yaokuan, vice-director of Chinese Aviation Management Committee, said the new rules enable people to enjoy more convenience in several respects, including simplified applications, use of air space, and shortened approval periods.

There are now more than 10 aviation clubs and flight schools in China, with their main customers being professionals, permanent foreign residents in China, and business people from Japan, Taiwan, Hong Kong and Macao.

"The market for private flight training is growing fast, even with events like 9/11 and the SARS outbreak taking a heavy toll," Wang said. "We are currently collaborating with investors at home and abroad to enhance our training quality and to attract more investment to expand the market. We are also attempting to work with Beijing flight-training companies to develop a private-flight training market there."

To realize the dream of flying, Yu Jilin, nearly 50, has been participating in the schooling.

Born into an aircraft family and together with his wife Chen Yan, owner of two coffee cafes, he has participated in private flight training in 2001 and 2003.

"I am very excited when I control the plane in the sky," Yu said.

Now Yu flys more than 20 hours every year.

Many of his friends are plane-lovers, too, participating in various aircraft activities, such as glider and power-engined umbrella flights.

"I would buy a plane if the airspace under 600 metres is opened to public," Yu said. "I also look forward to a systemic aviation net around the country rather than aviation clubs.''

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