Exclusive interview with Vice-Chairman Zhou Haitao of China Air Sports Association
In August 2014, at Jiuhua Mountain, the most famous tourist resort in China, TeamUpAir had the opportunity to interview Vice-Chairman Zhou Haitao of China Air Sports Association. With an in-depth discussion of the opening of China’s low-altitude airspace and the development prospects for light sport aircraft.
In Vice-Chairman Zhou Haitao’s introduction, he stated that in July 2013, at the invitation of the United States Experimental Aircraft Association (EAA) to China Air Sports Association, he attended the Flying Conference hosted by the EAA. He added that he had an opportunity to visit the world-famous jet Cessna and Hawker Beechcraft’s headquarters located in Wichita, Kansas and to learn the scope and the application of the American aviation industry conditions in detail. Furthermore, he was inspired by an observation tour of Shiwo. Although he noticed that there is a considerable gap when comparing the Chinese aviation sector with the United States’ strong aviation industry, he believes that, with the gradual opening of low-altitude airspace, Chinese general aviation and aviation sports will usher in unprecedented opportunity for development.
Vice President Zhou Haitao also mentioned:
1.General aviation will have a huge economic value
A level of development of the country’s aviation industry is a direct reflection of the national comprehensive strength of political, economic, defense, and technology. It is a relationship between national security and the economic lifelines of strategic industries. China’s aviation industry started in the early days of liberation and developed in the era of reform. Now, in all aspects of scientific research, testing, production, management, sales, education, and sports, the country is forming a self-development capability and is producing a relatively complete and supportive industrial system. China is one of the few countries in the world capable of producing aviation systems and products. An aviation industry has made important contributions to the country’s economic construction and national defense construction because of the solid foundation of the intensive technology. International empiric indicates that an aviation project produces an output ratio of 1:80 after 10 years of development, and an aircraft project can be directly led to the creation of 600 companies and indirectly led to 2,500 enterprises.
General aviation is still unfamiliar to a majority of people. Besides the military, police, customs officials, public air transport and flight aviation activities, operations such as mining, agriculture, forestry, fisheries, health, disaster relief, meteorological, land marine monitoring, education and sports training, culture, tourism and other aspects are also considering as flight activities. In 2010, after “The Deepening of China’s Low-Altitude Airspace Management Reform Opinions” was issued by the State Council and the Central Military Commission, the low-altitude airspace (1000 meters) was released phase by phase and by 2015, China will be fully liberalized. The low-altitude airspace will generate the development of general aviation, which will bring about the development of aviation industry and proceed to become one of the most promising industries in the future of China.
Due to the constraints of airspace management, the imperfect laws and regulations, the low number of airports, lack of aviation personnel training and the uneven radar distribution, a big gap of universal aviation exists between China, Europe and the Americas. Currently, China has nearly 1,100 existing aircrafts of general aviation but has fewer than 1,000 airports in total (including general airports and 399 temporary landing points), about 30,000 aircraft driver’s license staff, and 130 general aviation enterprises. According to this data, the general aviation market will begin when the per capita GDP reaches $3,000. Experts predict: it is already 20 years that cars poured into the Chinese family, so the next 20 years will be the golden age of aircrafts entering into the families of China. General aviation in China owns a vast market and has huge space for development. Besides the fact that Xi’an, Shenyang, Chengdu, and Shijiazhuang regions have the advantage of competing in the development of this sunrise industry, other places like Tianjin, Chongqing, Zhuhai, Zhengzhou, Fuzhou, and Baotou also have potential to become the future general aviation industrial base, setting off a wave of general aviation development.
2.Aviation Sports will become an entry point to seize the development
Aviation Sports is a combination factor of sport and general aviation. With the reform of the country’s low-altitude airspace management, aviation sports will have a lot to offer and the outlook of the market will be significant. Through the transition of aviation sports management, Anyang City will soon become the “Capital of Aviation Sports”. Anyang City’s municipal government is establishing a capital of aviation sports as the construction of the “twelve five”, using one of the eight strategies to build strong northern regional city centers beforehand. This year, during the Aviation Sports Tourism Festival, Anyang City undersigned a total of 23 billion dollars toward investment projects to enhance the city greatly. Laiwu, already famous in “City of Aviation Sports”, has successfully held their annual International Aviation Festivals for the past three years. The festival is a combination of aviation sports performances, public participations, and experimental theme activities, integrated with aviation athletic performances, culture and tourism, and other functions. During the Aviation Festival, Shandong TV live broadcasted the grand opening ceremony worldwide to 38 countries and regions. Athletes from the United States, Russia, France, Germany and other countries participated in the festival. Laiwu’s Aviation Festival has become a bridge to the world, and in return, a window for the world to understand the City of Laiwu. Recently, tourists numbering from 50 to 180 million had been admitted to the city, and the land value has been grown more than 10 times. Zhangjiajie, Tianmen Mountain scenic area conducted an Aircraft Crossing Show in 1999, a Russian Air Force Aerobatic Show in 2006, a Flying Wing Mounted Show last year, and the scenery became a well-known feature of the area. The 1st Hainan Island Flight Rally was held last year, which greatly promoted the development of the tourism industry. Therefore, aviation sport is not only a recreational activity, but is a valuable platform of economic and social development – a large industry.
ASA News August 28 2014