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China’s General Aviation Sector Booming

Xinhua. The on-highway vehicle industry is not the only transportation segment growing rapidly in China. China’s general aviation sector will grow at an annual average rate of about 10% percent over the next five years, according to Yang Guoqing, Vice Minister of General Administration of the Civil Aviation of China (CAAC). General aviation services air cargo transport and industry but not commercial passenger traffic.

Flying time of China’s general aviation aircraft has reached 84.9 thousand hours—three times as much as in 1978—and is expected to reach 140 thousand hours by 2010. Last year, general aviation air traffic reached 26.13 billion ton-kilometers, which is the number of tons of cargo multiplied by the number of kilometers flown.

China, which has the second-most air traffic in the world, now has 570 general aviation aircraft, 235 more than in 2002. According to official figures, China is estimated to require 12,000 general aviation aircraft by 2012.

In 2005, an executive with Rolls Royce predicted that China alone will account for one tenth of the world’s aviation market in next 20 years, with a market value of US$34 billion, thanks to the country’s high demand for new aircraft.

Steve Miller predicted that over the next 20 years, China’s aviation traffic will grow at 9% year-on year, the world’s fastest growing market. Rolls Royce expects that the aviation market in the entire Asia Pacific region will surpass that of Europe by 2008, and will be the biggest global market in 2022. (Xinhua)

According to forecasts from the US Federal Aviation Administration, the US general aviation fleet will increase from 214,591 aircraft in 2005 to 252,775 in 2017, growing 1.4% a year. General aviation hours flown are forecast to increase from 28.3 million in 2005 to 33.3 million hours in 2010 and 41.1 million in 2017, an average annual growth rate of 3.2% a year.

Assuming all projections are met, US general aviation traffic—in terms of hours flown—will be 238 times that of China’s in 2010.

Along with that increase in US general aviation traffic comes a concomitant increase in fuel consumption. From 1.3 billion gallons of aviation fuel consumed by general aviation in 2005, consumption will more than double to 3.1 billion gallons in 2017.



Along with that increase in US general aviation traffic comes a concomitant increase in fuel consumption. From 1.3 billion gallons of aviation fuel consumed by general aviation in 2005, consumption will more than double to 3.1 billion gallons in 2017.

Oh, if only.

Rafael Seidl

I'd suggest raising taxes on aviation fuel and offsetting the extra income by cutting some other taxes. Reducing your exposure to foreign oil and greenhouse gas footprint is not rocket science.

As long as you execute this tax shift slowly, predictably and irreversably, the civilian aviation industry will continue to thrive by responding with investments in higher fuel economy, adjusting capacity and/or raising ticket/freight prices. The phase-in would have to take into account the long life expectancy of civilian jet aircraft (20-30 years), since any tax hike will result in accelerated asset depreciation.

The problem is that at present, democratic systems are designed for rapid partisan rather than slow bipartisan policy changes. Nevertheless, to get the ball rolling, the EU is now advocating fuel taxes for domestic flights. International routes are subject to historical treaties precluding unilateral tax hikes:


Unfortunately, the US and Australia favor the status quo, climate change be damned. To my mind, there is no justification for this, as differential fuel taxes would affect all airlines plying a given route equally. Thus, the terms of trade would not be distorted.

The developed world needs to lead by example if it wants to influence rapidly emerging economies such as China to adopt energy and climate change policies compatible with peaceful and prosperous co-existence.


Currently 1.3 billion gallons of fuel used in a year huh? Most estimates put fuel WASTED due to traffic congestion at around 2.3 billion gallons of fuel. Ground transportation is a more pressing problem to concentrate on rather than the very minor impact of GA. They should do whatever they can to make sure GA craft are frugal in fuel use but automotive fuel use is far, far greater by a couple orders of magnitude.

Rafael Seidl

Patrick -

perhaps one order of magnitude is more accurate. Is there any reason we cannot focus on all modes of transportation simultaneously? Besides, jet aircraft fly at 30000 ft, where their NOx emissions cause damage to the ozone layer. So yes, the impact of aviation is subordinate to motor vehicles but we would be fools to continue to neglect it altogether. All sectors of the economy must pitch in, no exceptions.

allen zheng

____Commercial/private aviation will continue to increase in the coming decades if trends continue unabated. They will fly farther between more distant locations and higher to coserve fuel/increase available airspace. More efficient/ cleaner engines, efficient fight management, and more direct routes may offset some of the ill effects, but unless the fuels are carbon neutral, there will be problem to be reconed with. Additionally, more flights will mean more contrails, and thus obscuration of the Sun, as well as the stars at night (neg impact science, esp. astronomy). Studies done after 9/11 showed the marked temp/climate effect of contrails. Magnify the ill effects, and may lead to problems for parts of Asia that depend on Monsoon rains:
____This may drive up the cost of food worldwide. Say goodbye to $1-3 loafs of bread, say hello to 2-3 times that much. Those just getting (worldwide) by will suffer. Agribusiness may be the only ones to benefit.
____The rising Asian giants PRC and India will either choose drought and famine of Global Dimming, or rising sea levels of Global Warming. WE MUST GET POLLUTION OF ALL TYPES UNDER CONTROL!!!


Regarding Rafael's comments I am Australian and quite ashamed of my Government. The main problem as I see it is that Australia is a net energy exporter (coal) and the government is wrapped around this industry's little finger. The more coal the world burns the better as far as they are concerned and lets not slow it down by CO2 cap and trade policies. Secondly, the opposition party is pathetic.

Harvey D.

What does the most damage to the environment; One ton of Australian Coal used in an electrical power plant or one ton of oil extracted from Alberta Tar Sands and burned in a 2 1/2 ton gas guzzler? Does anybody have a total comparaison?


Rafael- Most GA aircraft fly much, much lower than 30,000 ft.

As I said, it may be important to keep fuel efficiency of GA aircraft improving but ground vehicle use is still more important overall.

21.65 Quadrillion BTUs of energy consumed by all ground transportation.

2.55 Quadrillion BTUs of energy consumed by ALL aviation. General Aviation consumed 0.175 Quadrillion BTUs of energy.

21.65/ 0.175 = ~123 which is MORE than one order of magnitude.

96.9% of the energy comes from petroleum products.

Taken from the 22nd edition of the "Transportation Energy Data Book" (stats for 2001 which more closely reflect the state of todays GA sector since after 9/11 GA took a major hit in aircraft registrations and year 2000 registrations are very close to 2005 registrations (217,000 in 2000 with 219,000 in 2005...)


I meant stats for 2000 not 2001. If you get the 22nd edition it will show that the stats I used are from 2000.

The guide can be found at ntl.bts.gov

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