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"Ever-increasing footprint" in China: Airbus
( Xinhua )

PARIS -- Airbus would be happy to expand its cooperation with the Chinese aviation industry after 26 years of success, says the president of Airbus China.

"Our long-time strategy is to build continuously an ever-increasing footprint in China," Laurence Barron, president of Airbus China Co Ltd, told Xinhua during a recent interview.

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Inaugurated in 1985, cooperation between the two sides was not just commercial, but also on the industrial front, including parts' manufacturing, engineering, composite manufacturing and final assembly, Barron told Xinhua.

The total value of industrial cooperation between Airbus and the Chinese aviation industry was expected to double from over $200 million in 2010 to $500 million each year by 2015, according to statistics from the France-based aero giant.

"The size of the Airbus fleet in China has also grown very significantly in recent years" Barron said. He pointed out that as of the end of May a total of 689 Airbus aircraft have been in service with Chinese airlines.

The latest footprint, Barron said, was the delivery of the 50th aircraft assembled by the Airbus A320 Family Final Assembly Line in China (FALC) earlier this month.

The assembly line is a joint venture launched in September 2008 between Airbus and a Chinese consortium that includes the Tianjin Free Trade Zone and China Aviation Industry Corp It is Airbus' first final assembly line outside of Europe. The facility is expected to assemble four planes per month by 2012.

All Airbus commercial aircraft now have components produced in China. Six Chinese companies are involved in manufacturing parts for Airbus jet liners, adding a strong "Chinese flavor" to the big airplane family.

While carrying out projects with Chinese aviation industry partners, Airbus has conducted a number of research and technology programs with various Chinese universities and research institutes, Barron said.

"These research programs can potentially, one day, lead to something completely new, completely different like the conceptual aircraft of 2050," he said.

At the ongoing Paris Air Show, Airbus unveiled its "concept cabin" scheduled to be completed in 2050, which features a transparent fuselage that can offer passengers a panoramic view of the night sky or of landscapes passing below.

The show also witnessed the overseas debut of a real-size demo mock-up of C-919 trunkliner's forward fuselage, of which China owns the independent intellectual property right.

Recognizing the endeavor, Barron welcomed the challenge, saying "the Chinese market is big enough for three competitors and Airbus was born into competition."

"We will continue to develop our relationship with China, in the fields of manufacturing, engineering and research," Barron said. "I believe this is a global industry and that China will be very much part of this global industry in the years to come."

Airbus China was officially established in 1994 and Barron was appointed president on January 1, 2004 after 22 years with the company.

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