December 13, 2007
By Alton K. Marsh
By Alton K. Marsh
A newly formed company in China expects to complete a manufacturing facility in Anyang, a city of six million people, by next summer in which to build at least 600 and possibly 800 Liberty Aerospace Liberty XL-2 two-seat aircraft.
The aircraft will remain in China and be used by a flight school operated by Science and Technology University. Anyang is nearly 290 statute miles southwest of Beijing.
The FAA must first approve construction of the aircraft in China under an amended production certificate. All parts including carbon fiber construction will eventually be done in the country. However, the company will continue to manufacture aircraft in Melbourne, Fla., for purchase in the United States and elsewhere.
When the factory goes into operation under the 10-year contract--with options to renew--production will increase to 100 per year. While the factory is completed a small number of aircraft built and registered in the United States will be sent to China to meet early needs for trainers. Following that, aircraft will be exported to China for registration there, and when the factory is ready, kits will be sent, which can be assembled in the country. The final step is to fabricate the aircraft in China. The aircraft is already certified there.
Liberty Aerospace officials said they are confident the total will increase to 800 aircraft because the Peoples Republic of China Civil Aviation Authorities plans to open the airspace in 2010 for transient private aircraft. At the moment flight schools (many of them government owned) and flying clubs such as the one at Anyang’s Science and Technology University have blocks of airspace in which they may train. Airways, however, are used mostly by the airlines. After 2010, those routes will be more available to private aircraft.
Liberty Aerospace official Patrick Carroll gave this explanation of flying in China: “Today you can fly in China but a lot of the airspace is military or IFR only. VFR is generally limited to 5 kilometers [3.1 statute miles] from the airport and a ceiling of 3, 000 meters [9,842 feet]. Not withstanding this VFR limitation, China trains foreign pilots, including those from Japan up to the private pilot level under a certificate from the Ministry of Sports. This license is convertible.”
In anticipation of the airspace changes in 2010, Carroll said Jeppesen is making VFR charts of China’s airspace.
The new factory will be built at Anyang Airport by the Anyang Angel Aero Science and Technology Development Co., Ltd., also called 3A for short, and is half-owned by the government’s Anyang Economic and Technology Development Company and half by private shareholders.
Liberty Aerospace has delivered 90 aircraft worldwide and expects to build 110 in Florida next year. The factory began operation there in 2003 and built 50 aircraft in 2007.
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