China Saves Liberty?
Details of a deal announced earlier this month show that a Chinese city may be single-handedly resuscitating Liberty Aerospace with a $28 million deal that includes the purchase of 50 Liberty XL2s. To put that into perspective, GAMA's 2011 Year-End shipment report lists a total of three XL2 two-seat, side-by-side low-wing trainer deliveries for 2011 -- all of which took place in the first quarter. Through the first two quarters of 2012, Liberty shipped no XL2s, according to GAMA. Now, Wuhan, China, has agreed to purchase 50 XL2s plus 50 four-seat helicopters from other manufacturers. The deal was announced by officials from Wuhan and Federal Aerospace Holdings Group with a promise of "bringing jobs back to America."
The population of Wuhan is roughly 10 million and it is a major transportation hub in central China recently identified by the Chinese government as "an aviation city," according to a press release describing the deal. The arrangement provides obvious inroads for Liberty in China. General aviation in China is expected to grow after the Chinese government opens airspace to general aviation aircraft in 2015. Current plans include training Chinese pilots in the U.S. and Chinese officials have reportedly toured the Florida Institute of Technology's flight operations building as well as Bristow Academy. Earlier this month, a Chinese delegation of five also toured aviation companies in Florida and flight schools in relation to the deal.