Shanghai pang…plus gratuitous Jackie Chan mention
ABACE 2015 (the Asian Business Aviation Conference & Exhibition) kicks off at Shanghai’s Hongquaio Airport today. It’s the first one I’ve missed in a few years, and I’m feeling the pain as I’m getting the noise from afar. There are around 8,000 visitors expected at the Shanghai Hawker Pacific Business Aviation Service Centre with 40 aircraft jostling for position on the static. All credit to NBAA as it looks to be a corker of a show this year.
My pal Jackie Chan made a splash yesterday as he promoted the Embraer Legacy 500. He is due to take delivery of the first one to enter China this year, and, as ever, entertained the crowds on site. I say we’re pals – he won’t have a clue who I am – but he’s by far the most entertaining interviewee I’ve ever had. Nobody else has ever jumped on a desk and high kicked over my head during our conversation. A true charmer, entertainer and great ambassador for Embraer.
I digress…industry stalwarts will have one eye open for China’s next Five Year Plan, due to start next year and last until 2020. Expectations are high for even more relaxation of airspace restrictions. The current Five Year Plan, which ends this year, has improved general aviation standards and regulations, including the opening of some low-altitude airspace. Progress has been slow, but has happened. There is now some military-controlled airspace available and processing permits has gotten a little easier.
Last August China loosened restrictions on airspace below 1,000 meters, detailing procedures for operating in four classifications of airspace, including “free flying routes” for VFR flights without prior permission. The other three include controlled airspace that does require prior permission; areas under surveillance and even areas where aircraft that have filed flight plans can fly freely. This is cheering news for the helicopter sector. However, the vast majority of airspace remains under military control.
Regulars are taking their places on the static. Airbus Corporate Jets, for example, is introducing its new A330-200 “Summit” interior to the Asian market this week at the show, which it launched at the NBAA Convention in October the cabin is configured with both a VIP section in the front and airline-style seating in the back.
This means options for office, fancy seating and a conference area in the front, with business class seating for executives and guests and economy seating for support staff. The interior is a swipe at the VIP variant of Boeing’s 787 Dreamliner type, which is still experiencing teething problems as completions centres grapple with the complexities of outfitting the all new composite aircraft and managing Boeing’s new digital data rights management. The Summit brings the cost of a VIP A330 to below $200 million and Airbus reckons it shortens completions time to between 24-30 months. It has yet to find a taker, but it is a new concept for the airframer, which says it has attracted interest from those who might well take.
Cessna Aircraft, meanwhile, has exciting news, including the delivery of the first Citation XLS+ produced by its partnership with Chinese airframer Avic, and the impending certification of the Citation X+ and Citation Sovereign+. China is its top export development market.
The Cessna-Avic Aircraft (Zhuhai) Co joint venture assembles the XLS+ for sale in China using parts, components and sub-assemblies provided by Cessna. Formed with China Aviation Industry General Aircraft Company Ltd. (CAIGA), the company received its business license last July, and delivered the first two XLS+ midsize business jets to Guangzhou Zhongheng Group, Ltd. at Airshow China in Zhuhai last November.
More tomorrow as I lap up newsfeeds and badger my friends on site to tell me what’s happening.