CORRECTED-China's Beidahuang to buy over 40 small planes, helicopters

Thu Aug 21, 2014 6:43am EDT

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(Corrects cost of licence in final paragraph to 250,000 yuan)

BEIJING Aug 21 (Reuters) - China Beidahuang General Aviation Co plans to buy more than 40 planes and helicopters by 2020, which would expand its fleet, already the biggest in China, to around 130 aircraft, its general manager said on Thursday.

China Beidahuang, which specializes in forestry and agriculture services, already has 6 helicopters, Guo Qingcai told Reuters on the sidelines of an industry even in Beijing.

"It's the first time for us to have helicopters on the fleet. They are very useful for forestry protection and some agriculture related missions," said Guo.

The company plans to add 10-15 small helicopters in the few next years, followed by bigger models, such as Kamov K32, he added.

General aviation refers to all flights that are not operated by airlines, charter firms or the military. The industry is already worth $150 billion in the United States.

In China, where the military controls 80 percent of airspace, there are only about 1,650 registered general aviation aircraft in China as of the end of 2013, official data show.

Guo said he believed the industry had a lot of growth potential once Beijing starts to ease its control of low-altitude air space as early as 2015.

China Beidahuang also runs a certified pilot school in Heilongjiang province. Guo said the company had recently agreed a deal with Tsinghua University to offer flight training classes, a lucrative new business as private flying licences can cost up to 250,000 yuan ($40,644). (Reporting by Fang Yan and Matthew Miller in BEIJING; Editing by Miral Fahmy)