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France seeks cooperation with China on jumbo jets
Updated: 2009-04-22 20:26

France has shown an interest in participating in China's large-jet program, a French official said in Tianjin on Wednesday.

Anne-Marie Idrac, French Minister of State for foreign trade, said at an ongoing aerospace convention that French companies could be suppliers of engines, take-off and landing gears, and electronic devices -- an industry in which the French are highly competitive.

Safran and Thales are already in active contact with potential Chinese clients, though China has not invited bidders, the minister said at the China Tianjin International Business Convention for Aerospace Industries.

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She also invited the Commercial Aircraft Corporation of China Ltd (CACC), a major entity of the nation's large-jet program, to attend the Paris aerospace convention to be held in June for further business talks.

The minister believed cooperation in the aerospace industries between the two countries has been successful.

She praised the operation of Airbus assembly line in Tianjin, the only final assembly line of the company outside Europe.

Marc Bertiaux, vice president of Airbus Cooperation and Partnership with China, said Chinese employees in the company are expected to reach 400 by 2011, about 90 percent of the total workforce.

The Tianjin line now has 310 Chinese employees and 110 foreign employees, mostly from Europe.

He said the first Airbus A320 assembled here would start its trial flight next month and be delivered for business in June, when more technicians and sales managers will be needed.

Bertiaux said European employees would gradually go back to Europe once Chinese personnel were capable of taking their positions

China approved the large-jet program in February 2007, and inaugurated CACC in 2008 in Shanghai, in a bid to independently produce the country's jumbo passenger aircraft.

Only the United States, Europe, and Russia are able to produce large passenger aircraft with more than 150 seats. Airbus and Boeing are in the dominant position in the world market.

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