There were blue skies above but low level smog and the position of the sun made viewing of the aerial displays less than ideal. A static display zone, several chalets and a pavilion full of smaller booths rounded out the offerings at the Pucheng Airport venue of the China International General Aviation Convention 2015.
On the Ground
Noticeably absent from the chalets compared to the previous event were large international companies like Cessna, Beechcraft and Mooney.
In their place were Czech manufacturer LET Aircraft Industries and engine supplier GE Aviation. Along with new partner, China General Aviation Service Company, LET is heavily promoting the GE powered twin turboprop L410 for the China market.
Smaller foreign companies on show included Poland’s Artur Trendak Aviation with the Taurus gyrocopter. In what is perhaps a sign of a maturing industry, other foreign aircraft on display did not so much represent
the respective OEMs as promote the Chinese companies which operate or deal in them. Perhaps most notable was Jinggong Aviation’s Australian-built Mahindra GA8 Airvan single-engine piston utility aircraft. After a long VTC battle the first of type for China made it’s debut at this event.
Yulin Bolo General Aviation featured their Cessna 206, Xi’an Tenglong had a Beech C90 on display, the CETC Special Mission Diamond DA42 was on the tarmac, and the Flight Design CTLS and Challenger LSAs were there with their Chinese dealer and operator respectively.
Interestingly, there were no Tecnam aircraft to be seen, even though four of their aircraft types are listed in the CIGAC show directory.
George Heintz China drew extra attention to the Zenith CH750 and CH800 aircraft parked inside the pavilion by having attractive young women pose in front of them. However, they are finding it very difficult to obtain Chinese approval for their aircraft and have managed to get themselves offside with the CAAC.
In the Air
After the buzzing paragliders and the opening ceremony with compulsory skydiving display, it was left to local flying club Zhongfei to kick off the flying with their Cessna 172 conducting a series of tight turns at low level. The Avicopter AC311 put on a tidy display which garnered a lot of interest from the local crowd as one of the home grown offerings.
The most spectacular displays of course came from the aerobatic performers. The Scandinavian Airshow Viking biplane (apparently a late replacement for Skip Stewart) gave a solo performance while Lithuanian ace Jurgis Kairys was once again impressive in combination with his Air Bandits aerobatic team. These two performance teams are fixtures at CIGAC having been present at all four events.
The flying display program also included a surprisingly agile showing of the Let L410; also the
New Zealand single turboprop utility PAC 750, the now ubiquitous Cirrus SR20/22, and a swarm of 2-seat gyrocopters in formation.
Seven announcements/press conferences were scheduled over two days of the Pucheng Airport event. These included the announcement of the first Chinese company certified to produce 100LL Avgas and the signing of Shenyan Aircraft Company to begin production of Tecnam aircraft in China.
XL Aviation was present for the announcement of the newly formed AVIC subsidiary General Aviation International Aircraft Technology Company (GAVIN) and signing of Lycoming and Parker Hannifin as suppliers for the proposed new LE700 4-seat single engine composite aircraft. There will be more details in an upcoming post.
Up to Expectations?
While on the whole it was an enjoyable day at Pucheng Airport and XL Aviation transacted some business, one could not help wondering if the event was as big and successful as organizers had hoped. Crowd numbers were small, although to be fair this was a Friday and the first and professional day, with public days to follow over the weekend. A significant number of the aircraft featured in the Show Directory did not appear to have actually made it, and the event seemed to lack the overall buzz and intensity of purpose one comes to expect.
It is understood that CIGAC organizer, the newly formed Xi’an GA Expo Company, has ambitions for staging a smaller general aviation expo in the off years between CIGAC events. While CIGAC 2017 may be a sure thing, whether or not we see a GA event here in Xi’an in 2016 will probably be a strong indication of how organizers have evaluated the success of CIGAC 2015.