Wing delivery to Airbus marks milestone

By Ding Qingfen (China Daily)
Updated: 2007-07-25 06:52

XI'AN: Xi'an Aircraft Company (XAC), a subsidiary of China Aviation Industry Corporation I (AVIC I), yesterday made its first delivery of an Airbus A319 wing box - making the country Airbus' only wing box manufacturer outside Europe.

The wing box, or the main body of the wing and among the toughest structural parts of an aircraft, is valued $1.75 million per set. It will be dispatched to the Airbus assembly plant in Broughton in the UK.

"Airbus has ordered 250 sets of wing boxes from our company. We expect to make two sets this year. Production will pick up to four sets per month by the end of 2009, and then to six sets per month in 2010," Tang Jun, vice-president of XAC, told China Daily.

Airbus plans to increase its subcontract volume in China from the current $60 million to $120 million by 2010, about 50 percent of which will be contributed by the overall wing program, according to company sources.

Yesterday's delivery signals important progress in China's aircraft manufacturing industry, Tang said. The A319 wing box is the largest and most complicated Airbus aircraft component a Chinese aviation manufacturer has ever made.

The wing box is the third phase of the long-term technological partnership between Airbus and China's aviation industry, which started eight years ago. The first two phases covered technology transfer of wing leading edge track ribs, and wing leading edge and trailing edge packages.

The delivery "reaffirms Airbus' commitment to a meaningful partnership with China," said Laurence Barron, Airbus China president.

According to Tang, XAC and Airbus are in talks on more wing-related technology transfer.

China expects to obtain the rest of the wing-related contracts from Airbus by 2009, said Yang Chunsheng, a senior executive with China National Aero-Technology Import & Export Corporation.

If that comes true, he said, "Xi'an will be able to directly provide Airbus wings to the future A320 assembly line in Tianjin."

Airbus and Chinese partners officially signed an agreement last month to open the assembly line there to produce the European aircraft manufacturer's A320 jets.

The plant is expected to deliver its first aircraft in early 2009, Airbus said.

The assembly line will be able to produce four A320s a month by 2011 and a total of about 300 A320 planes by 2016, the company said.

(China Daily 07/25/2007 page1)

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