China will look for landing lights
The mainland's aviation industry is set on a rapid expansion path and firms will be keen to do business
Mainland China's huge aviation expansion programme is a key attraction of Asian Aerospace 2007 to the world's leading aerospace groups.
With annual passenger growth of 11 per cent predicted by the General Administration for Civil Aviation of China (CAAC) over the next 20 years, the country is set to become the world's second-largest aviation market after the United States.
Companies such as Airbus, Boeing, Bombardier, Hawker Beechcraft, Aviall, Aviation Australia, Jet Aviation, Lufthansa Technik and Dassault Falcon Jet, among more than 500 exhibitor companies are queuing up for a slice of the action.
Robust airline growth was due to China's rapid economic and tourism development twinned with reform of its aviation industry, said Wang Boxue, a senior researcher at the Aviation Industry Development Research Centre of China.
The World Tourism Organisation predicts that by 2020 China will become the most visited destination in the world, while improving living standards have made air travel increasingly affordable domestically.
The CAAC anticipates an additional 1,790 aircraft will be needed to handle the increased volume. Boeing estimates that China will need about 2,400 new passenger and freight aircraft worth US$200 billion over the next 20 years.
Under China's airport expansion programme, 49 new airports are planned over the next five years, along with 701 airport expansion projects.
A new system of regional control centres along with full conversion from programme to radar based air traffic control is also being introduced over the next five to 10 years.
By 2010 China expects to have 186 airports, including three national hubs, seven regional hubs, 24 medium hubs, 28 medium airports and 124 small airports, according to the CAAC. Total investment will be US$17.7 billion.
By 2015 it is estimated that the number of airports serving scheduled airlines will total 260. China's air cargo sector is also growing fast, creating the need for better ground facilities to handle the additional cargo.
Also on China's agenda is the need to improve aviation security systems and equipment, computer information management, settlement ticketing systems, global distribution systems and e-commerce.
As a result of airport growth, China is a fast-growing market for air traffic control equipment.
Over the past 10 years, the CAAC has spent about US$1 billion on air traffic management infrastructure improvements alone.
The CAAC's Air Traffic Management Bureau's goal over the next five years is to improve facilities in the eastern and mid-western regions, requiring a comprehensive data network, new automation-centre systems, ground-air voice/data communications and new en route radar.
China also plans to introduce ground-to-air communications and automatic dependent surveillance services for international and polar routes in the west.
Airport retail outlets are also a relatively new concept for Chinese airport authorities faced with the challenge of becoming financially self-sufficient, opening a window of opportunity for foreign partners through food and shop concessions.
Overall foreign investment priority leans towards airport infrastructure construction, technology upgrades and management training, according to the CAAC.
China's public and private aviation sector views Asian Aerospace 2007 as a platform for two-way trading opportunities in the global commercial aerospace market.
Included among the participants are companies from two emerging aerospace industry centres, Xian and Tianjin.
Xian Aviation Industrial and Tianjin Aerospace Industry are showcasing growing expertise in manufacturing and research and development - underlined by Airbus' plans to set up an A320 final assembly plant at its Tianjin facility. Airbus will showcase its huge new Airbus A380 at the Hong Kong International Airport.
Encompassing 47 large and medium-sized manufacturing facilities, 31 research and development institutes and 22 affiliated specialist companies and institutions, with a total workforce of almost 250,000, China Aviation Industry Corporation I (AVIC) is also participating. AVIC specialises in feeder and rotary wing aircraft.
China's Commission of Science, Technology and Industry for National Defence is actively promoting the event. Spokesman Li Jinduo said: 'The Chinese government aims to push forth the general development in regional aircraft, helicopter and advanced aero-engines, and aircraft equipment.
'There are also targets for increasing OEM production and boosting industry production. In addition, the development of satellite-related applications such as communication, navigation and remote sensors are being encouraged.' Participation at Asian Aerospace 'will lead to increased opportunities for collaboration with international partners for mutual long-term benefits', he said.
Annie Ma, vice-president of Reed Exhibitions' Aerospace and Aviation Group, said: 'China is looking for international opportunities for its domestic industry and is open to international companies looking for opportunities in China, so the upward trend in the market seems set to continue for the foreseeable future. Opportunities this growth will create will be in a wide variety of sectors such as airport infrastructure, maintenance, repair and overhaul, simulation and training.'
Hong Kong could also benefit from China's booming aviation market, she said. 'The areas that will benefit are the strategic service sectors demanded of the industry, such as finance, insurance and consultancy services.'