China Adds More Than 50 GA Airports In 2020

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The number of certified general aviation airports in China has grown from 246 at the end of 2019 to 299 by Aug. 2020, according to data from the Civil Aviation Administration of China (CAAC). The new airports expand on several years of previous growth in the country, which reported just 76 certified GA airports in operation in 2017. Another 76 GA-oriented airports were under construction at the time the data was collected.

Among the 299 certified GA airports, 111 were listed as heliports and one as a “water aerodrome.” At the remaining airports, 63 percent had runway lengths between 400 and 800 meters (1,312-2,625 feet), 23 percent between 800 and 1200 meters (2,625-3,937 feet) and 5 percent between 1200-1600 meters (3,937-5,249 feet). Just 6 percent of the country’s certified GA airports had runways longer than 1600 meters (5,249 feet) while 8 percent had runways less than 400 meters (1,312 feet).

As of August 2020, Asian Sky Group (ASG) reports that 110 airports in China were categorized as Class A GA airports, defined as being open to the public and capable of conducting commercial passenger operations. 189 Class B GA airports, which are closed to the public and cannot be used for commercial passengers, were reported. Counting the 189 uncertified airfields listed by CAAC and ASG, China is expected to reach the benchmark set in its 13th Five-Year Plan, which called for 500 operational GA airports by the end of 2020.

Kate O’Connor works as AVweb's Editor-in-Chief. She is a private pilot, certificated aircraft dispatcher, and graduate of Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University.

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9 COMMENTS

    • China has stolen patents and other intellectual properties, used slave labor to produce goods sold at such low costs that they have driven US industries out of business, operates slave-labor camps, force sterilizes its own citizens, persecutes Christians, is building military bases on S China sea islands, taken-over Hong Kong, supports North Korea, sends 350,000 Chinese “students” to US universities every year (they are sworn to spy for the CCP), on and on … and you say “go China”?

  1. From the end of 2019 to August 2020, China added 53 airports. The last sentence of the article says that by the end of 2020 (according to their 13th five year plan) China plans to have 500 airports. Current as of Aug 2020 they have 189 class B, 110 class A, and 189 ‘uncertified’, which gives 488 GA airports.

    Given their numbers in August and the ability of the Chinese government to ‘do things’ there is no doubt they will be successful in achieving the 500 GA airport number.

    The United States, on the other hand, have 19,000 GA facilities, 718 with towers, down from over 20,000 in 2007. While the loss of any GA facilities is disappointing, it also demonstrates how far China has to go to catch up. As a potential huge market for airplanes and other aviation equipment, the expanded markets in China will help make aviation more affordable and stronger in the US just by the economies of scale. Cheering the Chinese on in their effort to expand their own GA facilities is a good thing.

  2. Don’t make the assumption that expanding the number of airports in China will result in helping the aviation industries in the U.S. The Chinese have built highways that no one can use, and entire cities that are basically ghost towns to meet the goals of their various 5-year plans. The same is likely true with airports. Plus, it is doubtful that general aviation in China will bear any semblance to ours. The movement of people is still strictly observed and controlled in the country, making GA accessible only to the ultra rich or those with government connections. If GA does manage to flourish in China, they will simply reverse engineer American planes or take the expertise gained from owning various U.S. companies and build their own aircraft. They have done the same in many other industries.

  3. The author makes it sound like this is an accomplishment. You can never rely on anything they say but if the numbers are correct then it’s a pitiful performance not even coming close to their own goal. Fact is they have the numbers that their dictator wants. They don’t want to have their own citizens flying their own airplanes for obvious reasons. They just want to own aviation just like they want to own all other industries so they can take over the world. That’s what dictators do. Always have and always will

  4. In my experience, admittedly no more recent than 2014, GA movement in China is so restrictive as to be impractical, having to submit exact routing and schedules 7 days ahead of time and then fly exactly as submitted. The military owning all airspace there are many ATC imposed clearances to fly 1 to 10 mile offsets along distances of 10 to 300 miles and occasionally even more. On one 1500 mile segment in 2014 we spent more flight time offset than along route. Unless things have changed drastically during the past 6 years, I can’t imagine uninhibited GA movement in China.

  5. Every “new” project initiated there is calculated to serve the vision of Xi Jinping, which is to displace America as the world’s #1 commercial and financial power. It may not always be clear what the calculation that led to the initiative was, nor if the calculation will prove to be correct, but you can be sure someone there made it and sold the concept on that basis.

    Unlikely the Chinese have any need whatsoever to “steal” American GA technology, such as it is, so I wouldn’t agonize over that. It is equally unlikely whatever finally develops will bear much if any resemblance to our ‘personal’ general aviation – certainly not unless many more things in China’s social order change radically.

  6. In America, general aviation represents the ultimate in freedom, both in mobility and independence from government oversight. Yes, the FAA controls the system, but they don’t control where you go or when you plan to travel or your reason for doing so. China cannot afford to give their citizens that level of independence and still control them. That is one of the issues they currently have with the people in Hong Kong, who have been raised in the western concept of personal freedom. Fostering GA in China is little more than window dressing to give the world the impression they actually have freedom of mobility.