A Vision For Creating A General Aviation Industry In China Includes Glasair
By Maxine Scheer
ANN broke the news on Saturday, but a news conference Monday at AirVenture made it official. Glasair President Mikael Via introduced Mr. Fang Tieji, Chairman of China based Jilin Hanxing Group co., Ltd, and new owner of Glasair Aviation (Glasair), a general aviation kit aircraft manufacturer based in Arlington, WA.
“Mr. Fang (pronounced Fong) and I met here at AirVenture last year”, said Via. “Mr. Fang’s initial interest was licensing the right to produce Glasair kits, however, over the last year, it has evolved into his purchasing the assets of Glasair.”
Before introducing Mr. Fang (pictured, left, with interperter), Mikael described the history of Glasair, the 2001 purchase by Tom Wathen and the subsequent transformation of the company to service existing Glasair and Glastar customers. He also described the last ten-years’ investments in innovation to bring new products to market, such as the Sportsman and the “Two-Week to Build” program, a unique program amongst kit manufacturers”, said Via.
A U.S. based attorney and spokesperson for Mr. Fang, Mr. Bin Li, described Jilin Hanxing Group’s holdings in markets that include real estate, chemical products, automobiles, and aviation. “Aviation holdings include all four of the only privately owned Fixed Based Operators (FBOs) in China,” said Li. “Mr. Fang is a pioneer; he sees the potential of General Aviation in China. Private aviation is new to the Chinese and the country is virgin land.” While acknowledged that aviation is highly regulated in China, Mr. Li described Mr. Fang’s efforts to work with the government to open opportunities for private aviation and create certifications necessary to build and fly a kit aircraft.
Through an interpreter, Mr. Fang answered questions and offered insights into a vision for the potential of general aviation in China. "In 2011, the Air Force began testing access to low level airspace in select Provinces,” said Fang. “Over the next ten years, I plan to open 40 FBOs and 10 new airports. When asked about the model for FBOs, Mr. Fang described how U.S. FBOs are “State of the Art and that he would establish ”State of the Art” facilities in China. “We plan to continue investments in Glasair products”, said Fang, ƒand eater to speed entry of Glasair into the China, the world’s largest potential new general aviation market.”
When asked about the attitude of the Chinese people to personal flying, the response was, “It is the wish of many Chinese people to learn to fly”. Mr. Fang is taking flying lessons in China and anticipates earning a pilot certificate issued by the CAAC, the Civil Aviation Administration of China, by year’s end.
Glasair President Mikael Via closed the press conference with some comments on the future for Glasair in the U.S. “Mr. Fang has agreed to invest in Glasair and there are no plans to relocate or downsize Glasair.” Plans by Jilin Hanxing to invest in other U.S. based aviation related companies were also confirmed, but no specific companies were mentioned. The new operating entity is Glasair Aviation USA LLC.
Glasair is also introducing at AirVenture three new options for the Sportsman Aircraft. First, larger aft-facing rear seating that allows the Sportsman to comfortably carry four adults, and can be retrofitted to all current Sportsman aircraft. Second, Tough-Terrain (‘TT) Landing gear improving Sportsman’s backcountry STOL performance, and third, a new carbon fiber cargo pod with a 250 pound load capacity providing 15 cubic feet of storage with a 32 by 12 inch door. Glasair says the pod has been designed for easy installation for access and aerodynamic efficiency. It is estimated that Glasair has delivered approximately 3,000 planes, being built and/or flown all over the world.