Aviation training to China

Trends and opportunities

The market

After several decades of economic growth and reform, China is set to become the world’s largest aviation market in the mid 2020’s, with the number of travellers moving through China’s airports forecast to increase from 487 million in 2015 to 927 million in 2024 (Source: Bloomberg, China to Surpass U.S. as World’s Largest Aviation Market by 2024 , 21 October 2016).

According to Civil Aviation Administration of China (CAAC) statistics:

  • Chinese airlines carried around 480 million passengers and 6.6 million tonnes of cargo and mail to the end of 2016, a year-on-year increase of 11 per cent and 5.5 per cent, respectively.
  • Shanghai's Pudong and Hongqiao airports passed the 100 million passenger milestone in 2016 for the first time, while Beijing Capital International Airport exceeded 90 million passengers.
  • Around 4,890 new pilots, 2,393 technicians, 432 Air Traffic Controllers and 567 dispatchers joined the Chinese civil aviation industry in 2016.
  • Chinese carriers took delivery of 270 aircraft from January to November 2016, and over the same period opened 260 new international routes
  • Growth in capacity and passenger numbers on international routes jumped more than 20 per cent in 2016.

(Source: China Aviation Daily, 2016 Year in Review: China's Aviation Industry in Numbers, 23 December 2016 ).

The further development of the Aviation sector, and the infrastructure which underpins it, is a key priority of the Chinese Government.

China’s 13th Five Year Plan (2016 – 2020) envisages a larger role for the aviation sector in the economy, an increasingly mature component and aircraft manufacturing capability, greater access for private Chinese and foreign investors and an increase in the number of civil airports by at least 50 over the duration of the plan.

Major aviation projects include Beijing’s new international airport, the expansion of Zhengzhou’s freight handling capacities in central China, as well as the further internationalisation of domestic hubs such as Harbin, Chongqing and Xian (Source: China National Development and Reform Commission (NDRC), The 13th Five-Year Plan , 2016-2020).

Tianfu International Airport, which is currently under construction and when completed will service Chengdu, the capital of China's Sichuan province and a growing air hub. The site of the airport is at Lujia, Jianyang, 51 kilometres south-east of Chengdu. Construction began in May 2016 and is due to open in 2020. This airport will operate as a second airport for Chengdu with Chengdu Shuangliu International Airport continuing to operate.

Chengdu hopes to become the third largest airport hub in China, after Beijing and Shanghai. The airport will have 6 Level 4F runways when all phases are complete, two terminal buildings and will have capacity to handle between 80 and 90 million passengers per year (Source: China Daily,New Chengdu airport on course for 2020 , 17 June 2016).

Currently the majority of China’s aircraft are sourced from overseas suppliers, and both Boeing and Airbus have forecast that this increased demand will drive the purchase of more than 6,000 new aircraft over the next 20 years (Source: Boeing, Boeing Forecasts Demand in China for 6,810 Airplanes, Valued at $1 Trillion , 13 September 2016).

Chinese state-owned manufacturers including the Commercial Aircraft Corporation of China (COMAC) and the Aviation Industry Corporation of China (AVIC) are looking to compete with foreign suppliers along the supply chain, including in commercial aircraft. COMAC’s C919 passenger jet is expected to enter into service over the next few years.

China and Australia have a long running and diverse aviation partnership, with Australia now China’s second largest destination for long haul flights, behind only the United States. In 2016 China and Australia reached agreement on an Air Services Agreement (ASA ), which removed capacity restrictions between Australia and China for each country’s airlines.

In addition, the Civil Aviation Administration of China (CAAC) and the Civil Aviation Safety Authority (CASA) have agreed implementation procedures for the acceptance of airworthiness approval of aeronautical products from Australia.


Faced with on-going rapid growth in the sector, China has an acute shortage of trained pilots. According to Boeing, airlines in China will need 111,000 new pilots by 2035, as new plane orders and demand for air travel surges, accounting for 40 per cent of global aviator requirements during that period.

Australian flight training schools, simulators and universities, can assist Chinese partners and students to meet the sector’s challenges and increase capacity by providing training services to major airlines, accredited Chinese pilot training providers, and through university partnerships.

Domestic training capacity is constrained by lower airspace restrictions, demand pressures on existing airports, and challenges around a still maturing sector, which all limit availability for the practical elements of aviation training. In addition, finding pilots with sufficient experience and the appropriate qualifications to pilot China’s expanding fleet of advanced commercial aircraft is proving challenging, resulting in rising salaries for suitably qualified pilots.

Competitive environment

China’s domestic aviation industry continues to build capabilities, while training providers from North America, Europe, and other regions are active in the market.


It is essential to understand current market conditions and regulations for the recognition of aviation training qualifications when considering your China market strategy. The Civil Aviation Administration of China (CAAC) is a key regulator for China’s aviation sector. CCAR 141 approval is a key regulation for pilot training schools seeking to provide certified pilot training services to Chinese commercial airlines.

Links and industry contacts

Aviation resources

Aircraft Owners and Pilots Association of China (AOPA) (Chinese)
Aviation Industry Corporation of China (AVIC)
International Air Transport Association (IATA)

Government, business and trade resources for China

Australia Civil Aviation Safety Authority (CASA)
Australia Department of Infrastructure and Regional Development, Australia's Air Services Agreements (including with China)
China Air Traffic Management Bureau (ATMB)
China Aviation Administration of China (CAAC)


CAN News
China Aviation Daily

Contact details

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Working in partnership with Australian state and territory governments, Austrade provides information and advice that can help Australian companies reduce the time, cost and risk of exporting. We also administer the Export Market Development Grant Scheme and offer a range of services to Australian exporters in growth and emerging markets.