China Embracing Civilian Helicopters

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China continues the expansion of its involvement in aviation with its first helicopter convention next September. Officials of the China Helicopter Exposition held a news conference at HAI Heli-Expo in Orlando on Monday to outline plans for the meeting, which will run from Sept. 15-18 in Tianjin. The first show will be a modest one, with about 200 exhibitors (half of them Chinese) and about 2,000 attendees expected, but major Western manufacturers have been signed up and the show is expected to grow as the Chinese market grows.

Civilian helicopter operations have been virtually absent in China until recently because of tight airspace rules that all but banned the types of operations that helicopters perform best. With the recent relaxation of low-level airspace rules in some areas of the country, the market is expected to open up and AVIC, the Chinese government-owned aviation company, is going to be a player. Its new helicopter subsidiary AVICOPTER has poured $800 million into a development center in Tianjin and is hosting the exposition.