The rapid growth of general aviation airports in 2019 and 2020 slowed down in 2021. As of June 2021, mainland China has a total of 346 certified GA airports. Compared to the previous year, this was an increase of seven airports, equivalent to a growth rate of 2% – the first time grow has been a single digit.
Apart from certified GA airports, there are 195 uncertified runway airports, heliports, medical-usage helipads, and elevated heliports. Amongst these GA airports, some will be certified in the near future. As of the time of publication, there are 91 GA airports under construction. Additionally, a lot of GA airport construction has been scheduled by local governments since the introduction of the 14th Five-Year Plan.
Heilongjiang province, the largest grain production region in China, is still ranked the highest thanks to historic agriculture airports in operation until now. As of June 2021, Heilongjiang has a total of 88 certified GA airports. Guangdong province ranks second with 29. Guangdong also saw the largest increase of certified GA airports when compared to August 2020 – by ten. Furthermore, Jiangsu province ranked third with 25 certified GA airports. It is also the province with the second most additions – by eight. On the other hand, Hubei and Anhui provinces saw deceases– each by one. Hannan GA airport, located in Wuhan, Hubei, temporarily ceased operations and is focusing on airport expansion with the expectation of using it as a take-off and landing site for GA and commercial aviation in the future. Sanyuan GA airport, located in Wuhu, Anhui, was merged into Wuxuan airport and is waiting for the next step after the construction of Chaohu GA airport and Feidong Bailong airport has been completed.
Amongst certified GA airports, there are 126 Type-A and 220 Type B airports as of June 2021. There are some differences between the two; Type A airports are allowed to be open to the public and run commercial flight activities, whilst Type B airports are not allowed to, and can only be used for general aviation activities.
Moreover, certified GA airports can be categorized into runway airports (constituting 59%), heliports (41%), and water aerodrome (less than 1%). Amongst the runway airports, 37 of them can be used as heliports. Aside from the Shanghai Jinshan Water Aerodrome which was certified in 2019, there are three other GA airports with the facilities to provide water aerodrome services.
Runway airports can be divided by the length of the runway. The airports with runway lengths between 400 and 800 meters account for 62% of the market share. As small-sized fixed-wing aircraft usually need a runway length between 600 and 800 meters, this means that a runway with a length of 800 meters is enough for the majority of the general aviation aircraft. On the other hand, business jets need longer runways than other aircraft types, with most needing a runway length from 1600 to 2000 meters for take-off and landing. Overall, there are only 13 GA airports with a runway length above 1600 meters.
Amongst the 157 surface-level heliports, 115 are certified. There are 26 certified elevated heliports and 147 uncertified helipads. Compared with a helipad, a heliport is usually equipped with more secure operational facilities.
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