HARBIN: European aircraft maker Airbus Tuesday started construction of a $350 million component plant in this industrial city, one week after it delivered its first A320 plane assembled in China.
The composite manufacturing facility, in which Airbus holds 20 percent stake, will produce components for A350 XWB, a wide body plane, and A320 families, a single-aisle aircraft.
Harbin Aircraft Industry Group Corporation Ltd, Hafei Aviation Industry Company Ltd, AviChina Industry & Technology Company and other Chinese partners hold the balance 80 percent stake.
The new plant, scheduled to be operational by the end of 2010, is part of the world's second biggest aircraft maker's commitment to locally manufacture 5 percent of the A350 XWB airframe under an agreement reached with the Chinese government in 2007.
The new plant, which will cover more than 30,000 sq m, will create 1,000 jobs, according to Yu Shayan, vice-governor of Heilongjiang province.
"It (the manufacturing center) will be able to manufacture composite parts and assemble composite work-packages for the A350 XWB and A320 families and future Airbus programs," said Laurence Barron, president, Airbus China.
The joint venture plant, Barron said, would serve as an exclusive supplier to Airbus.
Asked whether the plant would in the future supply parts for China's large commercial aircraft project, Barron said: "I doubt it, but all possibilities remain."
Airbus is also in discussions with Chinese industrial partners for a project to manufacture components for its A350 XWB plane in Chengdu, Barron said.
Logistics Center in Tianjin
The plane maker, Barron said, is also considering setting up a logistics center in Tianjin.
But he declined to elaborate on the two issues.
Airbus' industrial procurement value from China amounted to $100 million last year and the aircraft maker is aiming to double it to $200 million by next year and to $500 million by 2015, Barron said.
The construction of the new plant comes one week after Airbus delivered its first A320 aircraft assembled in the Tianjin factory to Chinese airlines.
The Tianjin assembly, in which Airbus holds 51 percent stake, will roll out 10 more A320 aircraft within this year.