In a big step forward for general aviation in China, AeroJones, which builds CTLS light-sport trainers under license in the country, was recently able to deliver two of its composite aircraft by air. “After in-flight evaluations and completing the documentation,” said marketing director Michael Chou, “pilots flew the aircraft from their production flight test facility at the Zhenjiang DaLu General Airport to Vision General Aviation located at Tianzi Lake, Anji County, Zhejiang province.”
Previously, AeroJones had to disassemble the aircraft, designed by German company Flight Design, after factory test flights, truck them to the customer’s airport three hours’ drive away, then reassemble and retest them before they could enter service. Vision General Aviation provides primary flight instruction and “discovery flights” for those interested in learning to fly light aircraft.
While the delivery flights were just under 110 nautical miles and took a bit less than an hour, the practical benefit in time and manpower pales in comparison to the politically strategic victory. The military still controls most access to Chinese airspace, and even a one-hour delivery flight requires approval. “AeroJones filed a flight plan with CAAC [Civil Aviation Administration of China] authorities, Chou said, “[and] the request was passed to the military. On 19 August 2021, AeroJones received approval.”
Growth for general aviation in China faces conflicting influences. The pressing need for pilots for national airlines is compelling. Also, wealthy individuals want to learn to fly and push for more access (there are even some small fly-in communities that have cropped up). On the other hand, the military has not shown itself to be eager to cede authority in granting further freedom of the skies for personal flying.
According to Jack Lin, AeroJones’s vice president for aviation technology, “The ability to fly these very sophisticated and capable aircraft direct to the customer is much more efficient. AeroJones is pleased to work closely with CAAC and representatives from the military to accomplish these flights.”