Aircraft maker seeks to recruit foreign executives

PUBLISHED : Saturday, 28 February, 2009, 12:00am
UPDATED : Saturday, 28 February, 2009, 12:00am

For the first time, an aviation company closely tied to the military will be looking to hire overseas talent for management roles.

It is unlikely, however, that they will have access to sensitive military information.

A spokeswoman for China Aviation Industry Corp (Avic), the biggest research, development and production base for the mainland's military and commercial aircraft, said the company was seeking 13 deputy general managers and deputy directors.

'This global hunt aims to find qualified, talented people to help Avic manage 12 subsidiary companies and other industry development and research centres,' said the spokeswoman, who declined to give her name.

She said the move had been on the horizon ever since Avic I and Avic II merged last year to become the mainland's biggest military and civilian aviation manufacturer.

Global Times, a daily tabloid owned by the People's Daily, said the 13 positions involved management, production, marketing, technology research, capital operations and other sectors.

It said that candidates must have management experience in transnational companies, state-owned enterprises or large private businesses. Advanced academic achievements would also be a priority.

China News Service said Avic, which had begun preparing for the global recruitment six months ago, would consider hiring non-Chinese.

Candidates who might be assigned to sensitive positions would need to sign promises to keep military secrets, CNS quoted Avic vice-president Gao Jianshe as saying.

However, military experts said the mainland would not allow overseas talent to handle military affairs.

'Avic has two production lines, one for military and one for civilian,' said Xu Guangyu, a retired People's Liberation Army general.

'The military line is forbidden ground to foreigners, even though it's normal in other countries, including the US and others in the west.'

A Shanghai military expert who declined to be named stressed that the mainland needed overseas aviation talent to help its commercial aircraft campaign, which was listed as a key development project in its 11th Five-Year Plan in 2006.

'We have the groundwork for military aircraft, but in large passenger airplanes we are blank,' he said. 'One of the key difficulties in our commercial aircraft project is engine development.'

The National Development and Reform Commission raised 19 billion yuan (HK$21.6 billion) last year to form the Commercial Aircraft Corp of China (Comac).

The State Council owns 32 per cent of Comac, and Avic holds about 26 per cent.

There are hopes of building commercial aircraft with more than 150 seats by 2020, to get a share of the huge global aviation market now dominated by Boeing and Airbus, according to Avic.