ABACE2014 Session Will Focus on Ways to Encourage Development of Regional Helicopter Industry

March 21, 2014

An education session focusing on methods to encourage the development of a viable, capable and safe helicopter industry throughout the Asia-Pacific region will take place at the 2014 Asian Business Aviation Conference & Exhibition (ABACE2014), set for April 15 to 17 in Shanghai, China.

Today, China is home to just over 400 civil-use rotorcraft, a figure that pales in comparison to other regions. Among the topics slated for discussion at the session are regulatory considerations, and policies to ease the restrictions on airspace and infrastructure that currently hinder more widespread use of helicopters throughout China.

One key factor limiting the industry’s growth is the restriction on general aviation (GA) flight operations below 1,000 meters in China, though proponents are encouraged that those restrictions may soon be eased.

“By 2015, the lower sky should be open more widely,” noted Wu Zhendong, CEO of general aviation aircraft sales and support provider Avion Pacific Limited. “Last year, [Civil Aviation Administration of China] Director Li Jiaxiang assumed a position on the GA Committee, so this will bring favorable policies and legislative supports for the issue.”

Wu also noted the importance of proper workforce development and training requirements, including the need for greater opportunities for transitional training in country.

“While there are now quite a few ab initio helicopter training schools in China, after those students graduate with approximately 150 hours or so, there’s a shortage of advanced training providers for the transition to the twin-engine turboshaft helicopters commonly used here,” he added. “Opportunities to build time in smaller helicopters, as seen commonly in the West, simply don’t exist yet in China.”

Matt Zuccaro, president of Helicopter Association International and a featured speaker at the session, noted many potential operators exist in China, along with a customer base eager for the services that helicopters provide.

“In essence, you have the situation of strong demand, and customers that are waiting to be released,” he said. “The desire is there, the need is there.”

In light of that demand, Zuccaro also emphasized the importance of developing a strong foundation for operational safety.

“As greater access becomes available, the next issues have to be availability of qualified personnel, and promoting a positive safety environment,” he added. “It will take a combined effort throughout the international community to support the development of China’s emerging helicopter industry.”

The Helicopter Operations session will take place on April 17 at 11:00 a.m. Other scheduled speakers include Bruno Boulnois, CEO for Airbus Helicopters China, and Chris Jaran, managing director for Bell Helicopter in the region.