China's general aviation industry has rosy prospects but its development remains slow.
Such a contrast between dreams and reality has resulted in mixed feelings at the China International General Aviation Convention, which closed on Sunday in Xi'an, capital of northwest China's Shaanxi province.
At the convention, Xia Xinghua, vice minister of the Civil Aviation Administration of China, said that the country currently has 178 companies, 399 airports or vertipads and 1,610 jets registered for general aviation. And the number of jets is expected to hit 10,000 by 2020, which means an annual compound growth of 22 percent.
Zhu Shicai, an official with the state air traffic control commission, said that the government was expecting general aviation to be the next driving force for the Chinese economy after the auto industry.
Since the State Council, China's cabinet, and the military authority jointly decided in November 2010 to gradually open up the country's low-altitude airspace to general aviation, various pilot projects have been launched in China, including in Xi'an and Chongqing.
General aviation, which refers to flights other than military and scheduled airline and regular cargo flights for both private and commercial purposes, has sparked Chinese people's flying dreams.
Official statistics showed that an aggregate fund of 400 million yuan (about 65.6 million U.S. dollars) has been allocated to 64 enterprises engaged in general aviation for pilot training, facilitating purchases and the support of public services such as emergency rescue, aerial shots and public promotion from the start of 2010 to the end of 2012.
As of July 31, China's Development and Reform Commission has approved 10 state-level high-tech aerospace industry bases, while 116 general aviation industrial parks are under construction or in design phases.