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October 19, 2012

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Training center for helicopter pilots opens

SHANGHAI opened its first helicopter pilot training base in the Pudong New Area yesterday.

People can get a private license at the base at Gaodong Airport near Pudong International Airport after taking a month-long course that costs about 250,000 yuan (US$39,975), passing a physical test and an exam from the Civil Aviation Administration of China.

It will take further training, around 150 hours in total, to get a business license that allows a holder to work for an airline.

"Shanghai has a huge market for private helicopters with a large number of billionaires and enthusiasts, but there is a shortage of pilots," said Wu Dan, general manager of Heli General Aviation, which received approval from the regulator yesterday to run the training base.

There is also a shortage of helicopter pilots for general aviation uses including agriculture, sightseeing and rescue work, said Zhang Hao, director of the safety inspection and management bureau under the Civil Aviation Administration of China.

The number of civilian helicopters in China will grow 25 percent annually over the next five years and reach 2,100 units by 2020, by which time a total of 6,300 pilots will be required.

Air traffic control is no longer a major obstacle for the development of the city's helicopter industry, but the shortage of pilots is holding things back, said Li Qiyong, chairman of Shanghai Kingwing General Aviation, a helicopter operator.


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