Consultant: Growth in smaller jets in China may take time

Many experts have predicted that smaller business jets will play a large role in China’s business aviation market.

But that may be a long time coming if at all, said Brian Foley, an aviation consultant with Brian Foley Associates.

China’s preference for larger, heavier and longer-range business jets will remain in place for the foreseeable future, similar to what happened in the Middle East, Foley said.

Currently, 198 business jets operate in Mainland China, including 63 percent heavy jets, 25 percent medium jets and 12 percent light jets, Foley said.

The figures seem lopsided, compared to the worldwide average of 26 percent heavy jets, 34 percent medium jets and 40 percent light jets, he said.

China’s fleet closely mirrors the Middle East’s mix of the fleet.

“There are important reasons for this — including culture, politics, geography, trade and infrastructure — whose effects will be long-lasting,” Foley said.

Like the Middle East, China is faced with long internal distances and a heavy international travel need, which require larger aircraft.

Because of this, China’s medium and light fleet shouldn’t be expected to “catch up” to its larger fleet.

“More likely, the present mix will remain relatively constant even as the total fleet size increases,” Foley said.

That could impact Wichita, where planemakers build small and medium-size business jets.