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China has long way to go to build air rescue system

(Xinhua)

09:26, September 15, 2011

TIANJIN, Sept. 14 (Xinhua) -- China will need to spend at least 30 billion yuan (4.69 billion U.S. dollars) over the next 15 years to establish a helicopter rescue system that is capable of serving its 1.3 billion people, experts said Wednesday.

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 center under the Ministry of Civil Affairs, while attending the ongoing China Helicopter Development Forum in north China's port city of Tianjin.

Chen said that general aviation aircraft, especially helicopters, are necessary for many medical rescue and disaster relief efforts.

Military helicopters were used for relief work in the aftermath of the Wenchuan and Yushu earthquakes, as well as during severe droughts in southwest China in recent years, Chen said, adding that a civilian helicopter rescue fleet is still missing.

Wang Xia, director-general of the general aviation committee of the China Air Transport Association, said China has only 160 registered civil helicopters.

"Compared to other countries of similar size, the number is too small," Wang said.

The U.S. has 10,000 civilian helicopters, while Russia and Canada have 3,000 and 1,000, respectively, Wang said.

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

The China Helicopter Development Forum is being held as part of the first China Helicopter Exposition, which is scheduled to run from Thursday to Sunday in Tianjin.

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