China / China

Xinjiang increases size of aviation fleet

By Mao Weihua in Urumqi and Zhang Yi in Beijing (China Daily) Updated: 2017-03-16 07:55

Xinjiang's general aviation fleet will import 10 new aircraft from Switzerland this year to develop tourism, improve emergency rescue capabilities and boost its role in the Belt and Road Initiative, according to officials.

The first of the 10 aircraft - all of which are Pilatus PC-12 produced by Switzerland's Pilatus Aircraft Co - recently arrived in Shihezi in the Xinjiang Uygur autonomous region, and the second one is expected to arrive soon, said Lin Haitao, head of Xinjiang Production and Construction Corps Aviation Business Administration.

The other eight airplanes are expected to be delivered and transported to Xinjiang in the first half of this year, Lin said.

The aircraft will be operated by Xinjiang General Aviation Co Ltd, one of the country's biggest general aviation service providers, which was established by the administration.

Liu Kuntong, director of planning with the administration, said that the 10 new airplanes will be mainly used to "transport tourists between scenic spots that are scattered across the vast autonomous region, as well as being chartered for emergency rescue missions".

"The fleet can also serve neighboring countries along the Belt and Road Initiative, if needed," Liu added.

The initiative, proposed by President Xi Jinping in 2013, aims to rejuvenate two ancient trade routes - the Silk Road Economic Belt and the 21st Century Maritime Silk Road - and regional connectivity is one of the main objectives of the strategy.

"The addition of the 10 airplanes is just the start of our efforts to improve regional connectivity. We will increase investment in the sector and support the goal of building an air passage along the Belt and the Road," Liu said.

According to Lin Bin, an instructor pilot for Pilatus Aircraft, the Pilatus PC-12 aircraft is a single-engine turboprop that can seat up to eight passengers. It can travel a distance of up to 3,000 kilometers at a time, and it is most suitable for short-distance flights, business travel and private trips. It can perform in varied environments, such as mountainous regions, grassland, deserts and plateaus, which makes it suitable for transporting tourists and rescue missions.

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