Coming Soon: General Aviation in China

By Robert Mark on March 14th, 2011

Cirrus Every time I hear someone use the words general aviation and China in the same sentence, I can’t help but think back a few years ago to the early days of the Cessna 162 Skycatcher.

Remember the bombshell announcement, when Cessna told the world the only way they could bring the little bird to market at an affordable price was to let the folks in China build the parts with Cessna re-assembling in the United States? I doubt the sting of the return slap Cessna received from much of the Wichita labor community has been forgotten.

The recent announcement that Cirrus will be acquired by the China Aviation Industry General Aircraft Co. Ltd (CAIGA) came as a shock to some, but not many by comparison. Not even close. CAIGA is the same company that also plans to buy Teledyne Continental that builds engines for the Cirrus among other GA aircraft.

While some might bemoan the Chinese Cirrus purchase, I don’t, other than to ask why no American company at least tried to make a deal first. Surely quite a few big companies could have mustered enough cash to buy the outstanding shares of the Duluth aircraft builder, but no … everyone stood by and watched, much like we watched cash flown in to purchase shares of GM not long ago. In the end though, the Chinese purchase may well be good for U.S. pilots and aircraft owners.

The Cirrus is a fine aircraft and many pilots worried that the impendingChina bankruptcy of Cirrus – rumored long before the purchase announcement – would plunge a knife deep into an already injured general aviation industry.

The new CAIGA deal means Cirrus should live on for many years to come, so long as the innovative spirit the company is known for is left untouched by its new parent. Of course survival may translate into a manufacturing move of some sort to Asia for many of the same reasons Cessna chose the region. Sorry folks. Should have bought the company when you had the chance.

But these purchases by the Chinese are about more than simply providing the solid footing a couple of great American companies need to survive. These efforts are the vanguard of efforts to introduce aviation to a region where it has been virtually unknown – by anyone’s standard.

Certainly there are poor people in China who will never see a GA aircraft, much less ride in one, but there is also a burgeoning entrepreneurial class of individuals who will. They have the money to purchase GA aircraft which is why Cessna has been busy for years introducing its single-engine line in China.

Although Chinese infrastructure is not ready to turn a Cirrus or a Cessna purchase into the flexible business tool we know them as here in the states, it will be … and much sooner than it will ever be in a place like India, where even the simplest of change takes forever.

The real trick in helping the Chinese develop their own GA transportation system will be trying to hold on to some part of the help we in the West offer them to call our own, no small feat when the guy that brings you to the dance has all the cash.

Rob Mark

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3 Responses to “Coming Soon: General Aviation in China”

  1. Coming Soon: General Aviation in China – Jetwhine: Aviation Buzz … | Share My Aircraft News Says:

    […] Read Full Article This entry was posted in INTERESTING ARTICLES FROM THE WEB. Bookmark the permalink. ← Air Safety Institute's latest 'Nall Report' now available P3air […]

  2. Alex Says:

    Cirrus, owned by Islamic Government of Bahrain fund has been sold to company owned by Communist Government of China. What is there to “bemoan” about?

    Too late for that – almost everything of ny value long gone from this country…

    I don’t particularly care whether it’s good for “people of China”, or more likely – for its “enterpreneural class”. Everything is good for this particular global class everywhere.

    I just hope that americans, who had once well paid jobs with Cirrus, will be well taken care by their new employers – Government of China. At least SOME government appears to care… Or not. It is for them to see. Good luck!

    As for Cirrus pilots, all they care about is that Cirrus continues on, be that in Bahrain or China. Although local “enterpreneural class” is doing so good that they are more into jets now – while other “piston”-“classes” can afford to fly less and less, – including Cirruses. That’s what happens when a country goes on sale…

  3. Alex Says:

    In case any future “bemoaning” are forthcoming it may be worth to remind our pilots that another iconic “american” GA Piper Aircraft is owned since 2009 by Singapore-based investment company Imprimus , funded by Government of Brunei and is being managed since July 2010 by Geoffrey Berger, managing director of Imprimus in Brunei, after CEO Kein Gould resigned.

    So, please, say thank you for helping to keep GA alive here personally to Sultan Hassanal Bolkiah, General Dr Haji Hassanal Bolkiah Mu’izzaddin Waddaulah whose state’s official philosophy MIB (Melayu Islam Beraja) represents a “blend of Malay language, culture and Malay customs, the teaching of Islamic laws and values and the monarchy system which must be esteemed and practiced by all” Anybody cares? Amen.

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