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China lacks civil helicopters for rescue operations: experts

(Xinhua)

16:44, September 14, 2011

TIANJIN, Sept. 14 (Xinhua) -- China needs to spend at least 30 billion yuan within 15 years to establish the world's largest helicopter rescue system to cover its vast territory and serve its 1.3 billion population, experts said Wednesday at a helicopter forum.

China needs to set up at least 850 helicopter rescue bases with more than 1,000 helicopters to cover its 9.6-million-sq-km territory, said Chen Ping, deputy director-general of the emergency rescue promotion center under the Ministry of Civil Affairs, while attending the ongoing China Helicopter Development Forum.

Chen said that general aviation operations, especially helicopters, are necessary for everyday life in medical rescues and disaster relief efforts, and the helicopter emergency rescue system is needed to reduce casualties and asset losses.

Military helicopters were used for the relief work in the aftermath of the Wenchuan and Yushu earthquakes, as well as during the severe droughts in southwest China in recent years, Chen said, but added that a civil helicopter fleet, specifically for rescue efforts, is still lacking.

Wang Xia, director-general of the general aviation committee, China Air Transport Association, said China has only 160 registered civil helicopters, a number less than even the Brazilian city of Sao Paulo.

"Compared with those of others countries that have similar land areas, the number is too small," Wang said.

Russia has 3,000 civil helicopters, Canada 1,000, and there are 10,000 in the United States, she said.

Wang said the flight operations of general aviation companies in China lack time slots at airports for takeoffs and landings due to the rapid development of the country's commercial air industry.

"China has a long way to go to develop its aviation rescue system," she said.

The forum is being held on the eve of the first China Helicopter Exposition, which is scheduled from Thursday to Sunday in the northern port city of Tianjin.

The expo is organized by the Administrative Committee of Tianjin Port Free Trade Zone, the Administrative Committee of the Airport Economic Area of Tianjin, the Aviation Industry Corporation of China Helicopter Co., and France Advanced Business Events Group.

More than 200 companies from over 20 countries and regions are confirmed to attend.

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