REGIONAL> Development
Airbus production takes off
By Wang Yu (China Daily)
Updated: 2008-08-04 14:36

The first aircraft sections for the new Airbus single-aisle assembly line inTianjinarrived at the A320 Final Assembly Line (FAL) site on the morning of July 25.

Six jugs, loaded with parts for an A320, departed from a production site inHamburg,Germanyon a container ship on June 24. It carries the forward and rear fuselage section, a pair of wings, the horizontal and vertical tail plane and engine pylons. The sections arrived at theTianjinHarbor at 06:30 a.m. on July 24, then were transported from the harbor to the FALC site by road at 3 a.m. July 25.

The assembly process of the first aircraft, which is for Sichuan Airlines, will begin this month. Delivery of the aircraft is scheduled for mid-2009. By 2011, the production output will reach four aircrafts per month.

“The arrival of these aircraft sub-assemblies marks another important step forward for our assembly line inTianjin,” said Laurence Barron, president of Airbus China. “WithChina’s economic booming and the rapid development of the Chinese aviation industry, Airbus looks atChinanot only as one of the most important markets but as a strategic partner. Airbus will closely work with the Chinese aviation enterprises and continue to deepen and expand our cooperation,” he added.

“The Airbus A320 FAL project is a great example of Sino-European cooperation and an impetus for the development of the Binhai New Area. We attach great importance to it and will do our utmost to ensure its success together with Airbus,” said Gou Lijun, Member of CPC Tianjin Municipal Standing Committee and director of the Administrative Committee of Binhai New Area.

The final assembly line inChinais a joint venture between Airbus (51 percent) and the Chinese industry Consortium (49 percent). The latter comprises the Tianjin Free Trade Zone (TJFTZ), which holds a 60 percent interest, China Aviation Industry Corporation I (AVIC I), which holds 20 percent, and China Aviation Industry Corporation II (AVIC II), which holds 20 percent of the consortium’s 49 percent overall share. The FAL inTianjinwill be almost identical to the latest state-of-the-art Airbus single aisle final assembly line in Hamburg. The aircraft will be assembled and delivered inChina, and held to the same standards as those assembled and delivered inEurope.

The National Development and Reform Commission of China (NDRC) and Airbus signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) on December 4, 2005 when the Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao visited Airbus Headquarters inToulouse,France. The MOU described the process of evaluating the new fields of enhanced cooperation, including the possibility to establish a Final Assembly Line for Airbus single aisle aircraft inChina.

On June 8, 2006, NDRC and Airbus announced that the site for the A320 Family FAL inChinawould be in Tianjin Binhai New Coastal District. On October 26, 2006, Airbus and the Chinese Consortium signed an agreement, under which Airbus agreed to set up an A320 Family FAL inTianjin, and the parties settled the main details of their corresponding joint venture.

On May 15, 2007, construction started on the Airbus A320 Family FAL inTianjin, following the approval of the State Council of the Feasibility Study Report for the project on May 9. On June 28, 2007, the Chinese Consortium and Airbus signed the joint venture contract for Airbus’ Tianjin A320 Family FAL inBeijingat the Great Hall of the People.

Airbus is an EADS company.