Separate deals announced last week in Wuhan, China, a city of 10 million people, could provide a much-needed boost for the U.S. general aviation market thanks to bulk orders for up to 300 light-sport airplanes and small helicopters for the Chinese training market.
Leaders from Wuhan signed purchase agreements to buy 200 Liberty Aerospace XL-2 trainers, plus 100 small helicopters from an undisclosed U.S. manufacturer.
The airplane deal, if completed, would be significant for Brevard, Florida-based Liberty, which delivered only three airplanes last year and has built a total of just 132 XL-2 two-seaters since the model went on sale in 2005.
The purchase agreements are structured in such a way that aircraft components would be built in the U.S. and shipped to China for final assembly. The city of Wuhan, destined to become a training hub for Chinese pilots once the country’s civilian airspace opens up, is reportedly seeking to take ownership stakes in Liberty and the unnamed helicopter manufacturer.