CORRECTED-Call the air ambulance: Medical helicopters tipped for future China boom

miércoles 8 de junio de 2016 06:38 GYT

(Corrects last paragraph to state that Airbus is yet to disclose location for China H135 helicopter assembly line)

* Liberalisation opens up new markets for aircraft makers

* China may need 3,000 medivac helicopters - Airbus exec

* Manufacturers building China base seeking market share

* Creaking hospital infrastructure may hamper development

By Siva Govindasamy and Fang Yan

SINGAPORE/BEIJING, June 8 (Reuters) - As China opens up its low-level airspace to civilian aircraft, the global aviation industry is laying the groundwork for a boom beyond private business jets and pilot training schools - with the purchase of fleets of air ambulance helicopters.

The freeing up of airways previously reserved for military use is a huge opportunity for Norbert Ducrot, head of Airbus Group's helicopters unit in China. Ducrot says there could be enough demand for more than 3,000 emergency medical choppers in China - up from as few as about 20 now in service.

While the United States already has more than 1,500 air ambulance helicopters, China's fleet is minimal because of the civilian airspace curbs. In a country where the World Health Organisation has estimated more than 250,000 annual road traffic deaths, air evacuations from both clogged Chinese city streets and remote rural areas could speed medical care and save lives.   Continuación...