Thrill-seeking Chinese consumers are driving growth in the general aviation sector, according to the Civil Aviation Administration of China (CAAC) and reported by China Daily.
Burgeoning consumer demand in the general aviation sector for business travel, flight sightseeing tours and individual entertainment flying will keep growing in the years ahead, and that demand is expected to propel the industry, the report said.
Last year, the flying hours in general aviation reached 1.13 million hours, rising 13.8% year-on-year. Most flying hours comprise flight training, short-distance transportation, and general aviation tasks such as law enforcement and medical assistance, according to CAAC.
Some flying sports such as parachute jumping, stunt flying, hot balloon rides and gliders have become increasingly popular, particularly among thrill-seeking Chinese consumers, the report said.
The market scale of the sector has reached 200 billion yuan (US$29.15 billion), said the General Administration of Sport of China.
“Those flying sports have relatively low thresholds and costs, and the public will get easy access to them. We should build more flying sports venues at professional fields, general aviation airports, scenic spots, urban parks and schools,” said Lei Yin, deputy director of the industrial development department at the General Administration of Sport of China.
“By providing richer consumer products and lowering the bar of flying sports to attract more people to engage in the sport, it can help drive the development of the general aviation sector,” he said.
China aims to ultimately build 20,000 flying venues, according to a statement on speeding up the development of sports consumption that was released by the State Council in 2014. China has developed more homemade flying equipment and related vocational training and personnel to support the growth of flying sports, the report said.
Last year, there were 246 certified general aviation airports nationwide and the number exceeded that of commercial airports in October, the CAAC said.
The further growth of the general aviation sector also requires speeding up the process of opening low-altitude airspace, more general aviation airports near major tourist sites and a good flying environment, the report said.
At this time, the United States has around 20,000 general aviation airports and more than 70% of general aviation aircraft globally are delivered to the US, data from the Qianzhan Institute for Industrial Research showed.
A sightseeing tour aboard a helicopter is quite common in the US. At the Grand Canyon National Park in Arizona, travelers can take a 30-minute helicopter flight from the nearby city of Las Vegas, while driving there takes about four hours and 30 minutes.