|Honeywell’s latest survey found demand in China outpaces most world regions. Courtesy of Honeywell
The 2015 Asian Business Aviation Conference and Exhibition (ABACE) offered a venue for focused discussions about the state of helicopter operations in China and prospects for their growth.
“ABACE once again put China at center stage of the Asian and global business aviation community,” said President and CEO Ed Bolen of the U.S.-based National Business Aviation Association. “As we celebrated the show’s 10th year, it is clear that a high-water mark has been reached, not only for ABACE, but for business aviation in China and across Asia.”
Held in Shanghai April 14-16, the show is hosted by the NBAA, the Shanghai Airport Authority and the Asian Business Aviation Association.
As a measure of the growing role of helicopters throughout China and the Asia-Pacific region, ABACE included a day-long series of education sessions focused on topics of particular relevance to rotorcraft operations. These were produced by the show organizers and the Helicopter Association International.
Helicopter deliveries in China increased 30 percent last year, Bell Helicopter reported in a briefing during the show on that country’s helicopter operations. Bell’s vice president for China, Chris Jaran, said that followed five years of 20 percent annual growth in deliveries.
Jaran said there are 655 helicopters in China today. Six in 10 are turbine-powered aircraft, with most of those light and medium twin-engine helicopters. China’s helicopters are used mainly for multi-mission roles, flight training and offshore work. Most are in eastern China, but more helicopters are being put to work in central China.
Demand for rotorcraft in China remains above the world average, despite some slippage in aircraft purchase expectations, according to Honeywell Aerospace’s latest market survey. Its 2015 Turbine-Powered Civil Helicopter Purchase Outlook found that China also has stronger rotorcraft purchase expectations than the rest of the Asia-Pacific region.
The Honeywell survey projects a worldwide market of 4,750-5,250 civilian helicopter deliveries through 2019. The Asia Pacific region accounts for 14 percent of global demand, and the region’s demand has shifted toward medium and heavy helicopters, with much less interest in light, single-engine aircraft.
Airspace restrictions remain a problem. Civilian air traffic is still prohibited from using about 80 percent of China’s airspace, which is largely controlled by military commands relying on ground-based tracking systems.
ABACE also included a China Business Aviation Development Symposium and a Safety Workshop, which had an increase in attendance over last year’s session. Dozens of attendees heard discussions of the value of safety management and safety culture and briefings from experts on international safety standards, safety risk areas and best practices for building a safety culture.
The show featured 38 aircraft on static display, ranging from helicopters to piston-powered airplanes and intercontinental jets. That was on par with last year and more than triple the aircraft at the first ABACE in 2005.
More than 180 organizations exhibited at the show, organizers said, with more than 40 percent of them based in Asia – the highest percentage to date. Attendees came from more than 40 other countries across Asia and beyond.