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Ambitious air park taking off in Hubei
Last Updated: 2014-08-21 07:12 | China Daily
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Pedestrians pass the headquarters of AVIC in Beijing.[Provided to China Daily]

Aviation Industry Corp of China is poised for a boom in general aviation. In fact, it has been tapped to build China's first general aviation complex.

The AVIC Airpark will cost about 10 billion yuan ($1.62 billion) and is set to be completed by 2019 in Jingmen of Hubei province, according to a statement from the Beijing-based aviation conglomerate.

Work on the 2,800-hectare complex will start this year, the company said, adding that a 1,800-meter runway will be constructed, and an existing one will be extended to 800 m.

The complex will include aircraft hangars, pilot training schools, aeronautical service facilities, fliers' clubs as well as aviation museu ms.

As the country's leading aircraft manufacturer, AVIC plans to establish 50 such complexes around the nation and make them a multifunctional platform that can serve private pilots, boost aviation businesses, disseminate aeronautical knowledge and culture, and promote creative economy in the aircraft industry, according to Tan Ruisong, general manager of AVIC.

Song Qingguo, a senior executive of AVIC's China Aviation Industry General Aircraft Co Ltd, which is coordinating the ambitious project, said his company is discussing the air park program with a host of local governments.

"The reason we chose Jingmen to be the first location is that the Hubei provincial government and the city authorities there were most enthusiastic about setting up the air park," he explained. "In addition, AVIC has a strong presence in the province, such as its special aircraft research institute, airplane factories and China's largest test-flight base for amphibious aircraft."

The Jingmen complex aims to become the country's largest test and manufacturing base for special aircraft and to dominate the general aviation service market in Central China, Song said.

AVIC also is negotiating with Guizhou province on a large general aviation industrial base, which will include several air parks at a cost of about 30 billion yuan, reports said.

Gao Yuanyang, director of the general aviation industry research center at Beihang University in Beijing, said: "Considering the constraints in the use of airspace and land, the air park should be located in third- or fourth-tier cities that have abundant airspace and land resources. Therefore, Guizhou and Hubei are suitable places to launch such a project."

China is on the eve of a giant leap in its general aviation industry, as a great number of local governments and private enterprises have plunged into the aviation-related businesses.

But a lack of airports dedicated to serving general aviation flights and the government's tight control over low-altitude airspace still stand in the way of the industry's development, experts said.

By the end of 2013, the United States, home to more than 300,000 GA aircraft, boasted at least 24,000 airports and landing points for small planes. By comparison, China has just 399 on the mainland.

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