Company Special: US 'aircraft capital' Wichita opens Beijing base

Updated: 2013-11-11 10:37

By Li Fusheng (China Daily USA)

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 Company Special: US 'aircraft capital' Wichita opens Beijing base

From left to right: Karl Zhao, chief representative of Wichita's office in Beijing; Huang Weiguo, chairman of North Asia General Aviation Investment Management Corp; Karyn Page, CEO of Kansas Global Trade Services; Carl Brewer, mayor of Wichita, and Chen Shaochang, director of NAGA.

A US city is striving to promote its general aviation industry in China by establishing an aviation trade office in Beijing.

"When you think of aviation, we hope you will think of Wichita," said the city's Mayor Carl Brewer at a luncheon marking the establishment of the office on Oct 17.

Wichita is nicknamed the "Air Capital of the World" due to its position in the global general aviation industry.

Located in the state of Kansas, it has a small population of around 600,000, but it is home to four major aircraft manufacturers-Beechcraft, Cessna, Learjet and Spirit-and more than 350 world-class aerospace suppliers.

Statistics show manufacturers in the city produced approximately 300,000 aircraft over the past 90 years.

In 2012, the city produced 500 planes, accounting for 33 percent of all general aviation planes worldwide, and 48 percent US GA aircraft deliveries.

Brewer said Wichita expects the trade office in Beijing to promote the industry and identify sales and partnering opportunities as the general aviation industry is rising rapidly in China.

"I understand China's dream of flyingI believe the time is right now for us to be able to grow your and our aviation business," said Brewer who has 30 years of experience in the aviation industry.

He started his career as an engineer at Cessna and served as senior manager at Spirit before he took office in 2007.

"We want to make it easier for Chinese customers and partners to do business with Wichita's aviation industry.

"Wichita longs for a partner with youthful energy to share its wisdom with. China is what the air capital is looking for."

Karyn Page, head of Kansas Global Trade Services, which supervises the office in Beijing, said one of the agency's focuses will be on infrastructure development that includes training and education, maintenance and repair and FBO management.

"To secure safety, China needs to have proper and good infrastructure developmentwe train aircraft workers in Wichita every single day," said Page.

Wichita has the largest aerospace research and development academic institution in the US-The National Institute for Aviation Research.

The institute accounts for more than 70 percent of Federal Aviation Administration composite research spending.

Karl Zhao, chief representative of Wichita's office in Beijing, believes it is important for Wichita to have a presence on the ground in China.

When Wichita conducts business in China, it now has an option on the ground, he said.

Zhao said he has high hopes of the office's role in promoting Wichita's aviation industry in China.

Wichita's business now has a ground team and network as well as local expertise to incubate their success all the way, he said.

With rich experience, Zhao has established resources as well as confidence in promoting Wichita's general aviation community in China.

"Though a small community in the US, Wichita has been successful in keeping the title of the 'Air Capital of the World' in general aviation industry for over 90 years.

"Wichita has much to share and offer to the Chinese market in building a sustainable general aviation industry while benefitting local economic growth, export and job creation.

"With North Asia General Aviation Investment Management Corp as our strategic partner in China, we are capable of providing turn key solutions for Wichita businesses," said Zhao.

The idea to open an office in Beijing came after Brewer's visit to China in 2012.

During the 12-day trip, he met with key government and business officials in six Chinese cities.

Brewer said his delegation realized that the Chinese recognize Wichita as a leader in general aviation and that gives the city the opportunity to support Wichita's aviation efforts by marketing the Air Capital of the World in China.

In addition to the headquarters in Beijing, its China office plans to build a network of liaison offices through existing and new relationships with the best aviation cities across China.

He also offers some suggestions to help boost China's aviation industry, including educating citizens on safety and benefits of general aviation aircraft and continuing to develop regulations for safe and efficient aircraft operations.

Brewer attended the China International General Aviation Convention that run from Oct 17 to 20 in Xi'an, Shaanxi province.

Brewer also met with officials in Xi'an during the aviation show, and explored ideas to develop the "Air Partnership City "relations.

The event attracted global manufacturers, including Cessna and Beechcraft, as well as government and industry leaders from China.

"Where our companies go, we go too," said Brewer.

"Wichita wants to do everything it can to support China's growth, while continuously being proud to call itself 'Air Capital of the World"'.

(China Daily USA 11/11/2013 page9)