Exporting GA

WASHINGTON, D.C. — General aviation might be sluggish in the United States during these economic slow periods, but in the Asia-Pacific area, GA flying is getting a lot of attention — but not always for the most positive reasons.

China, particularly, is flexing its muscles for all general aviation. Of course, there are many challenges, the most of which is attempting to free up airspace from the military. However, working in favor of general aviation is the fact that the Chinese government sees the value of GA.

Not only is China moving to get involved deeply in the production of general aviation aircraft, equally important is the fact that the country is promoting the widespread use of GA aircraft. In fact, the Chinese government is conducting sessions to introduce GA to more people and U.S. organizations are showing the Chinese how and why GA aircraft can serve vital needs.

Recently, officials from both the National Business Aircraft Association (NBAA) and the General Aviation Manufacturers Association (GAMA) gathered in Tokyo to talk about GA at a meeting of the Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC).

Those officials wanted to focus on why and how to use general aviation, as well as the economic value of it. Officials from the Asian nations, however, wanted to talk about why and how business aviation is like the commercial airlines and needed to be treated as such. The NBAA and GAMA officials diplomatically tried to point out the difference, while still showing the value of GA.

“It has been proven in the United States and other parts of the world where business aviation travels, investment follows,” NBAA President Ed Bolen said.

GAMA’s Ed Smith told the APEC group that business aviation offers flexibility and efficiency, two critical ingredients for business in today’s fast-paced business environment.

Following this, both NBAA and GAMA representatives went to Beijing for a summit meeting of the Chinese aviation ministry. Here they were met by Craig Spence, vice president of operations and international affairs at the Aircraft Owners and Pilots Association (AOPA), who is also secretary of the International Association of AOPAs, with some 70 member nations. He addressed the gathering about the significance and importance of all general aviation — business, pleasure, agricultural and others.

In China, general aviation is moving ahead with government support and recognition by leaders of GA’s place in business and pleasure.

While some may question the wisdom of devoting time and talent to general aviation in other nations, it is clear that what happens in other parts of the world can — and does — affect GA in the United States. Through international agreements, aviation is able to operate with rules and regulations recognized by all nations, permitting uninterrupted travel. Any block in one nation can and does have a block on all.

It would be like each of the 50 United States having different rules and regulations.

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