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Chongqing looking to the skies

Updated: 2014-02-22

By Xu Wei and Tan Yingzi in Chongqing, China Daily

Zongshen and Hong Kong Tianze General Aviation Corp have joined forces to form the Chongqing Southwest Aircraft Manufacturing Co Ltd.

The company is planning to introduce a business jet from the US in the next three to five years and expects a yearly production volume of 500 to 600 aircraft.

"It is certainly an expanding market in the long run, and Zongshen needs to seize the opportunity," said Zhang Jian, an investment manager at Zongshen Group.

As of 2009, the United States had more than 230,000 aircraft in the general aviation sector, while China only had about 1,000.

Zongshen has bought a 10 percent stake in a Beijing aviation technology company, and obtained the aircraft manufacturing intellectual property of US manufacturer Windecker Industries in 2011.

Zhang said the company is hoping its experience in the manufacturing sector will help its development in the general aviation industry.

"However, the development of the industry will go closely with national steps toward the relaxation of airspace, and policy support from authorities," Zhang said.

Chongqing is planning to use current airports - including the municipality's Jiangbei airport, as well as county- or district-level airports - as fixed-base operators for general aviation flights.

A fixed-base operator usually provides aircraft fueling, storage, repair and maintenance facilities and sales of aircraft parts, among other services.

Fan from the Liangjiang New Area's aviation industry office said fixed-base operators are as important to general aviation aircraft as gas stations and highway rest areas are to vehicles.

"Without them, we cannot make the most of the general aviation sector," he said.

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