China’s state-owned aircraft company has agreed to buy a U.S. manufacturer of small planes for personal and business use.
A division of the China Aviation Industry company says it will buy Cirrus Industries for an undisclosed price. It is a purchase that exhibits China’s effort to expand into overseas industrial sectors where it currently does not have a large presence. It is the first time China has bought a competing U.S. or European aircraft manufacturer.
The deal must still be approved by U.S. regulatory authorities. It would give the Chinese access to Cirrus’s technology, as well a foothold in the U.S. general aviation market, the world’s largest.
The use of small planes is not widespread in China, where air traffic lanes are often reserved for military operations or commercial aviation. Many of China’s airports are not equipped to handle small, privately owned planes, although its civil aviation agency recently proposed opening low-altitude airspace for such aircraft over the next several years.
Cirrus is based in the Midwest U.S. state of Minnesota and has sold nearly 5,000 aircraft in 58 countries over the last decade, but only a handful in China. The U.S. firm manufactures the world’s top-selling four-seat aircraft.