Swiss manufacturer Pilatus is joining the growing number of general aviation manufacturers and service providers to expand into China, establishing a new joint venture company that will produce components and assemble PC-12 and PC-6 single turboprops in Chongqing.
Pilatus teamed with Beijing Tian Xing Jian Yu Science Co. to open a facility that will produce aircraft destined for the Chinese market. The partnership has been a couple of years in the making, and Chinese sources late last year first indicated plans for a Pilatus production plant in Chongqing. The actual facility opened for business last week.
Pilatus has initially committed to supplying 50 PC-6 Porters and PC-12s. “We are confident our products have great potential,” notes Pilatus Chairman Oscar Schwenk. “China has many small airfields with short runways – our aircraft are ideal for operating in and out of them.”
The company cites estimates that the Chinese aviation industry is expected to grow on average 10% each year over the next several years and says that establishing production capabilities there will provide Pilatus with a “firm foothold” in the market. But this could only be possible through a joint venture.
Pilatus notes that only civilian aircraft will be assembled at the facility, and the company has no plans to build components or assemble its PC-7 MkII, PC-9M and PC-21 military trainers in China. In addition, the company also notes that it has a majority stake in the new venture – which is not the case with a number of the joint venture deals in China.
Pilatus is also stressing that the plans in China will not slow operations in Switzerland, saying it expects the venture to stimulate business there instead. Pilatus has created 275 new jobs at its facilities in Stans and says “further recruitment is planned in the future.”
Along with Pilatus, Cessna, Embraer, Piaggio, and light-sport manufacturer Flight Design are among the companies that have teamed with Chinese partners to bring manufacturing capabilities there. Others, including Gulfstream, have established partnerships for service facilities in the region. Still others, including Cirrus and Continental, have been bought by the Chinese outright. Neither is manufacturing in China, but Continental is opening a technical support facility there.