Small jet makers see big chance as China prepares to open skies

Thu Dec 26, 2013 4:00pm EST
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* China is preparing to open up lower airspace

* Open-sky initiative may herald expansion of general aviation

* Gulfstream, Dassault, Cessna, Bombardier gearing up for rising demand

* Inadequate infrastructure remains major obstacle

By Fang Yan and Matthew Miller

BEIJING, Dec 27 (Reuters) - Ferraris and Rolls-Royces have become common sights in China's cities as a new class of super-rich indulge a growing appetite for luxury, but tight regulation has meant the private jet, the ultimate status symbol of the global elite, remains rare.

Recent rules changes, however, indicate that China is preparing to open its skies to private aircraft, in a move that may herald the greatest expansion of business and private aviation in the last 30 years.

Last month, China's aviation regulator simplified flight approval procedures for private aircraft and lowered the threshold for obtaining a private pilot licence.

More importantly, the implementation of little-noticed guidelines issued by China's State Council and the Central Military Commission in 2010 will gradually lift the ceiling for low-flying aircraft by 2020.   Continued...