Cleared to land: Beijing touchdown a first for GA in China

July 14, 2011

The Memphis businessman attempting to become the first Chinese citizen to fly around the world in a single-engine airplane has landed at Beijing Capital International Airport—the first single-engine general aviation airplane to obtain clearance to do so.

Wei Chen, a private pilot, is flying his Daher-Socata TBM 700 around the world, crossing through Chinese airspace. The feat has required significant logistical support from AOPA-China and the Chinese government: Obtaining a clearance to take off with a single-engine airplane can normally take days or even a week, and the landing at Beijing Capital International is unprecedented.

Yinjie Jason Zhang, a New-York-based pilot and member of the AOPA-China board of directors, is flying with Chen in China and said media attention there has been high. China is rapidly expanding its GA industry, building airports and releasing portions of its airspace for civilian flights, and one purpose of Chen’s flight is to raise awareness of GA in China.

“Wei Chen’s flight is truly historic, and all of us at Daher-Socata are proud he chose the TBM 700 to accomplish these aviation firsts,” said Nicolas Chabbert, senior vice president of Daher-Socata’s airplane division, in a news release. “They will serve as very positive steps in developing China’s general aviation sector."

Chen and Zhang expect to arrive at EAA AirVenture in Oshkosh, Wis., July 26 before Chen makes the final leg of his around-the-world journey.