Low-altitude economy in Xinjiang starts riding powerful tail winds

Updated: Apr 26, 2024 By YAN DONGJIE in Beijing and MAO WEIHUA in Urumqi CHINA DAILY Print
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The launch of Xinjiang Tianyuan General Aviation Co's first flight from Urumqi, capital of the Xinjiang Uygur autonomous region, to Fuyun county in Xinjiang's Altay on Sunday, and the opening of a low-altitude economy research institute marked the beginning of new opportunities for the region's low-altitude economic growth.

Tianyuan General Aviation was established through cooperation among the Xinjiang Airport Group, Urumqi and Kashgar airports and the Jiangsu Yajie Aviation Development Group. It is committed to building a "one-hour aviation economic circle", with Urumqi as its center and Kashgar and Yining as its southern and northern hubs, respectively, within a radius of 500 kilometers.

The innovative development of "short-haul transportation along with electric vertical takeoff and landing" is driving the overall low-altitude economic development of Xinjiang, said Yang Li, vice-president of the Yajie group and secretary of the board of directors of Tianyuan General Aviation.

According to the Xinjiang General Aviation Airport Layout Plan (2018-35), the region will build 89 general airports above A2 level by 2030. By 2035, it will build a total of 98 general airports above A2 level.

After the whole plan is achieved, 99 percent of the county-level administrative units in the region will be able to enjoy general aviation services within a linear distance of 50 kilometers, serving 99 percent of the population of Xinjiang.

Tianyuan General Aviation will strengthen the linkage of southern Xinjiang routes within Kashgar, and will open a circular flight route in May. After the Yecheng General Airport is put into use, the company will open an intermodal route in June.

A circular tourism flight route is expected to open in May. A route, which will achieve interconnection in terms of short-distance transportation in plateau areas, is also expected to open within the year.

Meanwhile, the new Xinjiang Aviation Industry (Low-Altitude Economy) Research Institute has appointed Wu Guanghui, an academician of the Chinese Academy of Engineering, as its honorary president. Wu was chief scientist of the Commercial Aircraft Corp of China and chief designer of the C919 large passenger aircraft series.

The institute will continue to gather resources and talent in the fields of unmanned aerial vehicles and general aviation to conduct theoretical research, innovative application research, development of low-altitude flight service systems, and analysis of the prospects for industrial development related to the low-altitude economy.

In February 2021, the Central Committee of the Communist Party of China and the State Council issued the National Comprehensive Three-dimensional Transportation Network Plan Outline, which first proposed the development of the low-altitude economy.

Fan Hengshan, former deputy secretary-general of the National Development and Reform Commission, told China Central Television that the low-altitude economy is a comprehensive economic form that uses various manned and unmanned aerial vehicles for low-altitude flight activities to drive the integrated development of related fields.

"Developing the low-altitude economy can effectively drive the integrated development of related fields, help expand domestic demand, expand development space, and facilitate the integration of production, distribution, circulation and consumption," he said.

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