New Zealand company Pacific Aerospace has won a $US13 million order for five skydive aircraft to a Chinese government sports agency.
The tender represents the largest single P-750 XSTOL aircraft order, and the company says it signals the huge potential of the company's joint venture in China.
Pacific Aerospace has a partnership with Beijing General Aviation Company to assemble plane parts manufactured at its Hamilton base in China.
Pacific Aerospace chief executive Damian Camp said when the joint venture was launched last year, it was with an eye to harness the potential of China's rapidly expanding general aviation market.
''This is another indicator for us of the potential of this market," Camp enthuses. "We haven't even begun assembling in China-our factory is being commissioned as we speak-and we've already locked in our largest standalone order of P-750 aircraft to-date, anywhere in the world."
The five aircraft are slated for delivery from late this year and will be used by the China's General Administration of Sports' state-owned aviation school for professional skydiving team training, competition and operational needs.
General Manager of joint venture partner Beijing General Aviation Zhuanghuai Ling said the P-750 XTOL was a safe and reliable, high-performance skydive aircraft with an extremely short take-off and landing capability.
Camp said the tender was to a governmental organisation, but it also had eyes on the potentially lucrative private market. Chinese citizens have only recently been authorised to own private aircraft and, as of last year, only around 2000 general aviation aircraft were operating in the country - this in comparison to the 250,000 in operation in the United States.
"We can look at the difference in GA aircraft numbers between the world's two largest economies and get an idea of the potential that is waiting to be tapped in China" said Camp.
Pacific Aerospace has been selling aircraft in China since late 2015 and its China-based assembly facility is scheduled to become operational in late 2016.
The P-750's configuration can easily be changed fir use in a range of roles including passenger/cargo; freight; agriculture, solid and liquid; fire-fighting; survey, geophysical and photographic; medical evacuation; skydiving; and ISR (intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance).
Pacific Aerospace has been making small aircraft for over 60 years.
The company employs 130 staff and is vertically integrated from the aircraft design and certification, machining and forming of metal and composite components through to the assembly of the aircraft and its systems and test flights.