Chinese Carmaker Eyes GA
A Chinese automaker says it will jump into the general aviation business as the country gets ready to liberalize its airspace to allow personal flight. According to China Daily, Beijing Automotive Group (BAIC) Chairman Xu Heyi told the ongoing session of the 12th National People's Congress that his company will soon begin research and development to "build reliable general aviation aircraft." The report also says China will open airspace below 1,000 meters to private aircraft this May.
Despite intense interest in the Chinese market from the rest of the aviation world, the country still has barely 1,000 general aviation aircraft. Airspace is tightly restricted by the military and getting approval for a flight is a time-consuming and therefore expensive exercise. Since most of the Chinese-owned private aircraft are business jets, access to airspace below 3,300 feet is not of much use to the current fleet. It's not clear what provisions might be in store for business aircraft.