[Aviation Today April 21, 2014] Robust attendance at the 2014 Asian Business Aviation Conference and Exhibition (ABACE) showed the growth of the business aviation industry in the Asia Pacific region since the National Business Aviation Association (NBAA) first launched the show in China in 2011. Attendance to the show grew by 30 percent over 2013, and the number of manufacturer chalets also increased 78 percent with 38 total aircraft on display, including pistons for the first time.
China and the greater Asia Pacific region have grown increasingly ready for business aviation growth over the past decade, though the tightly controlled military airspace and limited number of open runways for business jets and other General Aviation (GA) aircraft has limited that growth. However, attendance at the show and the recent easing of approval requirements for a number of China-based GA operators, are showing the country's officials are slowly reforming their airspace management system and positioning the industry for growth.
According to NBAA President and CEO Ed Bolen, the show featured 73 exhibitors from Asia, a 92 percent increase from the 38 exhibitors from the region in 2012. The show also featured several announcements from U.S.-based private aviation companies looking to expand in the region, and featured high-ranking government officials from the U.S. and Asia, including Michael Huerta, administrator, Federal Aviation Administration; Wang Zhiqing, deputy administrator, Civil Aviation Administration of China; and Masaaki Kai, senior deputy director general, Japan Civil Aviation Bureau.
“When we launched the first ABACE in 2012, we said we wanted the show to become not just an annual event, but an enduring event,” said Bolen. “It’s clear that in the 25 short months since our first edition of ABACE, we’ve seen significant growth for the show at every level, and ABACE is now firmly established as a must-attend event for the international business aviation community, and for China’s aerospace community.”
There were also announcements about expanding from prominent foreign and domestic private aviation companies at the show. Switzerland-based Execujet is looking to expand in the region by placing a new aircraft management director in the region who will lead the company's aircraft management base in Singapore.
"Asia is an important market for ExecuJet and one on which we are increasingly focusing. The rapidly growing business aviation market in Asia has created a greater need for aircraft support in the region," said Graeme Duckworth, managing director for ExecuJet Asia.
Dassault Falcon Jet also plans to invest $13 million to expand its parts inventory in China this summer, and prior to the show NetJets announced its expectation to obtain an operating certificate for NetJets China by mid-year.
Hong Kong-based Asian Sky Group (ASG) released its Greater China Business Jet report during the show, which shows that in Mainland China, the business jet fleet grew from 203 in 2011 to 371 as of the end of 2013. There are also now 189 GA companies in China, a 41 percent increase over 2012. The overall GA fleet in China now stands at 1,654 aircraft, a 23 percent increase from 2012 and total GA flight time increased 10 percent to 569,000 hours in 2013, the report says.