Eurocopter’s presence in China goes back more than 40 years to the first sale of an Alouette III helicopter in the country in 1967. But since then, the European manufacturer has set down much deeper roots in China and the new twin-engine EC175 (or Z15, as the Chinese version is known) represents the latest stage in a wide-ranging cooperation with China’s Avicopter (see box) through the Shanghai-based joint venture Eurocopter China.
Bangkok, Thailand-based charter group OrientSkys recently announced a new strategic business alliance with Beijing Airlines (formerly Air China Business Jet). Beijing Airlines, which Air China established in 2003 as the state-owned airline’s private charter arm, operates a Bombardier Challenger 605 and a Global Express XRS, as well as a Gulfstream G450 and a 28-seat Boeing Business Jet for charter.
Though business aviation is still young in China, the country has been quick to make clear its intention not just to be a consumer of imported business aircraft, but to be active as a manufacturer of them too. So far, partnerships with foreign airframers have been the main path to this goal, but now China’s Avic group has started work on its own design for what it calls the China New Generation Business Jet.
Beijing-based Deer Jet launched the first fractional aircraft program in China today in Shanghai at ABACE 2013. Deer Jet, which has 30 business jets spanning 13 types in its charter and management fleet, is currently selling shares in a Gulfstream G450 and G550, the latter of which it has on static display this week at the show.
The Deer Jet “Time Share” program is customized for the Chinese market and is targeted to customers who fly between 100 and 300 hours per year. There are two distinct products under Time Share: fractional aircraft shares and block charter.
Cessna Aircraft rolled out the first production copy of the new Citation X yesterday at its Wichita manufacturing facility, to the applause of some 200 Cessna employees. The upgraded twinjet was first announced at the 2010 NBAA Convention.
The China Corporate Jet Alliance, founded last year at ABACE as the “China Business Jet Shanghai Alliance” to promote the sustainable growth of the business aviation market in China, inducted four new members today at ABACE 2013.
Lufthansa Technik has signed a two-year contract with an undisclosed VIP customer in Asia to provide comprehensive technical support for two Airbus ACJ319s, the Hamburg, Germany-based company announced today. The support contract extends from line maintenance to full provisioning with components and materials, including logistics, maintenance management and CAMO services. The company will provide maintenance support out of its worldwide service network.
Boeing Business Jets celebrated the 40th year of Boeing commercial sales in China and the delivery of the 1,000th Boeing airliner to the market, a 737-800 purchased by China Eastern Airlines, today at ABACE. Meanwhile, the company plans to deliver six green BBJs this year, four of which are destined for Asia and three of those are China bound. Seven BBJs will enter service this year, three in Asia, including one in China.
When Boeing introduced its iconic Boeing Business Jet, the company emphasized the aircraft’s 6,000-mile range. The airplanes, derivatives of the Boeing 737 airliner, were sold “green,” meaning without a finished interior or final exterior paint scheme. From the production line, they went to a cabin completion center, where Boeing estimated that buyers would spend around $5- to $7 million for customized cabins.
For all the excitement that business aviation is stirring up among Chinese high-net-worth individuals, there are two groups of products that they do not seem ready to embrace: light jets and pre-owned aircraft. For now, the market remains resolutely focused on larger, long-range jets and brand-new models ordered straight from the factory.