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Fuselage project a new milestone in Airbus, China tie-up

By ZHU WENQIAN | | Updated: 2021-09-29 14:21
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AVIC and Airbus jointly launched the A320 fuselage equipping project on June 22 in Tianjin. [Photo/Xinhua]

The first China-equipped fuselage of A320 family aircraft has been delivered to Airbus in Tianjin from a Chinese industrial player, Airbus said at the ongoing Airshow China 2021 in Zhuhai, Guangdong province, on Wednesday.

The project, undertaken by Xi'an Aircraft International (Tianjin) Corp (XAT), a subsidiary of Aviation Industry Corp of China Ltd (AVIC), and by local Chinese employees, signifies a new industrial cooperation milestone between China and Airbus.

XAT started the A320 fuselage-equipping work in Tianjin in June. Major components and the internal system components were transported from Europe to Tianjin.

In 2019, Airbus reaffirmed its commitment to its long-term strategic partnership with China's aviation industry, and signed a cooperation agreement with AVIC to enhance Airbus single-aisle aircraft fuselage equipping in Tianjin. The agreement was signed in Beijing and witnessed by Chinese Premier Li Keqiang and visiting German Chancellor Angela Merkel.

Meanwhile, XAT has just delivered the 500th unit of A320 wings to Airbus, the two sides announced at the airshow. The wing-equipping project started in 2009.

"The A320 project has been a model of in-depth international cooperation between Chinese and European aviation industrial players. We have been able to maintain stable, quality and on-time deliveries," said Lu Guangshan, chief engineer of AVIC.

"Looking ahead, we will further deepen high-level strategic cooperation with Airbus and ramp up the production rates. We will take the opportunity to actively integrate ourselves into the global industry chain," Lu said.

Airbus said it aims to ramp up the production rate of single-aisle aircraft to an unprecedented rate in a few years, to meet a constantly growing demand in the market. In 2024, the global monthly production rate of A320 is expected to reach 70 a month, Airbus said.

"International transportation of major components of aircraft is become increasingly challenging. Local production of components would give us more agility," said Michel Tran Van, chief operating officer of Airbus China.

Airbus said that, previously, manufacturing the A320 required more than 60 days for Airbus to purchase raw materials in the United States, produce wing ribs in the United Kingdom, and do the final assembly work in Tianjin. Now, the transportation time period has been shortened to 10 days since Airbus purchases raw materials and produces wing ribs locally in China.

"China stands as the largest market for aircraft globally, and one-fourth of the single-aisle aircraft worldwide were delivered to China annually. Shifting more production work to China will help major foreign manufacturers to serve the country better," said Lin Zhijie, an aviation industry analyst and a columnist at Carnoc, one of the largest civil aviation websites in China.

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