China will have to train about half a million civilian pilots by 2035, up from just a few thousand now, to meet the growing demand from private and commercial planes, Reuters reported.
More than 200 new firms have applied for general aviation operating licenses, while the number of applications for permits to fly private planes is steadily increasing after the country’s civil aviation authority allowed such aircraft to fly below 1,000 meters from next year without military approval, the report said.
The civil aviation authority’s own training unit can only handle up to 100 students a year, while more than a dozen pilot schools can hardly cope with the surge in enrolment. Foreign firms plan to offer courses that cost hundreds of thousands of dollars per trainee.
“The first batch of students we enrolled in 2010 were mostly business owners interested in getting a private license,” said Sun Fengwei, deputy chief of the Civil Aviation Administration of China’s (CAAC) pilot school. “But now more and more young people also want to learn flying so that they can get a job at general aviation companies.”
The surge in interest in learning how to fly comes from people who want to land lucrative jobs at new air service operators, the news agency said.
The central government is expected to issue detailed guidelines on how it will implement plans unveiled in 2010 to open up airspace below 1,000 meters in 2015, expanding the open skies to airspace below 3,000 meters by 2020.
Global makers of small planes, such as Cessna Aircraft Co., Pilatus Aircraft Ltd. and Piaggio Aero Industries SpA, have been planning for a long time to enter China’s burgeoning general aviation market.
Now they’re being joined by air service providers like Tasmania-based Rotor-Lift Aviation, which has helped train pilots in Hong Kong, Malaysia and other Asian countries, the report said.
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