Aviation in China – The Market

Wanna fly airplanes in China? Wanna teach people how to fly airplanes in China? Sounds crazy, but it is possible. If you are a commercially rated pilot with a flight instructor license, China needs you!

I’m writing this Aviation in China series to give a little more information to friends, family and potential flight instructors about working for a flight school in China. The first thing you need to understand is the market for airplanes and flight training.

I’m no economist and I visibly recoil at anything to do with stocks, investment, business and economy. Give me ebola, heart attacks, card catalogs and Medline databases any day, (I’m a nurse studying medical librarianship who also happens to work in aviation.) but don’t expect me to authoritatively discuss market strategies. Still, even someone like me can see how China’s economic growth has spurred development left and right, and the growing middle classes increasingly want to fly across China – passengers on Chinese airlines have increased by 16.7% since August 2006. The commercial airline industry in China is doing well, with several new airlines entering the market – some government controlled, some private. Cargo-focused airlines are also growing. Across the board in commercial aviation, revenues are up and more aircraft are being purchased.

According to the Chicago Tribune, Boeing is reporting that China will need 3400 aircraft over the next 20 years to keep up with customer demand. They had previously predicted around 2000 aircraft. This booming commercial airline industry has sparked an entirely new industry in China – flight training. After all, who is going to fly all those new airplanes?

Most commercial pilots in China are either ex-military or graduates of China’s Civil Aviation Flight University (CAFUC), which has several campuses. However, they have been unable to meet the needs of the airlines alone. A recent article in China Economic Review says China needs at least 1200 to 1600 pilots per year to meet demands.

Enter private flight training schools. CAFUC can only supply about 600 pilots per year. Chinese airlines have responded by sending hundreds of students abroad to Europe, Australia, the US and Canada for flight training. Even an economics-challenged person like me can see that at $100,000 per student, that is a lot of money leaving China. PBS’ Nightly Business Report website has a transcript of a short report on the promise of flight training in China, done last year.

In the past few years, there has been great interest in establishing private flight schools in China to serve the commercial airlines training needs and, possibly, creating a new phenomenon – recreational pilots. I personally know of 3 such schools, two of which are operating – Beijing Panam International Aviation Academy and Jiutian International Flight School. I know there are more companies out there looking to make their move into the market.

I currently work for a private flight school, JTFA. I hope that through these postings I can share some of the challenges inherent in flight training, and the challenges of working in an entirely new industry in China – the challenges of ATC, airspace, military, educational practices, language and cultural barriers, and the environment. There are benefits as well as challenges, and I hope to touch on those as well.

As my students would say, it is time to fly to the sky. Thanks to The China Expat for posting about the Boeing report and Pan Asian Biz for posting about passenger and airline growth!


4 Responses to “Aviation in China – The Market”

  1. China » Blog Archives » China pushed UN meeting with Burma PM Says:

    […] Aviation in China – The MarketWanna fly airplanes in China? Wanna teach people how to fly airplanes in China? Sounds crazy, but it is possible. If you are a commercially rated pilot with a flight instructor license, China needs you! … […]

  2. Pedro Porras Says:

    I’m interested to get some more information about to be instructor in China. Do you have any information about or some mail address that I can get?

  3. John Halliday Says:

    I am an Australian with a Senior Commercial Pilots Licence (Now A.T.P.L.), i was chief pilot of my own aviation company for 10 years flying Turbo-prop freighters. I had check and training approval as well as chief pilot responsibility for class 1 (Command IFR) rating proficiency. I also had extensive Multi engine piston and Turbo-Prop training time with my pilots.

    I have a chinese wife and we wish to live in China as well as Australia. I am interested in teaching aviation English as well as any flying duties I may be able to get and will complete a TEFL course by end Dec 07.


    John Halliday

  4. Nile Jordan Says:


    I am interested about the fact that private flying schools are starting to make their move into the market.

    I would appreciate if I could find out more information about enrolment and the fees in your company the JTFA.

    I am also looking at the possibility of having business cooperation with you, if you will be interested, by attarcting Chinese aviation students to come to our country the Philippines and try what some of the best of our flying schools could offer.

    Your inputs will be highly appreciated.

    More power,


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