Assembled-in-China Airbus makes successful test flight

Source:Global Times Published: 2009-5-19 8:11:55

After a four-hour test flight, the first assembled-in-China Airbus A320 aircraft landed smoothly at Tianjin Binhai International Airport at 2:56 pm yesterday.

The aircraft will be delivered to Dragon Aviation Leasing next month from the Airbus Delivery Center in Tianjin and will be operated by Sichuan Airlines.

“I’m confident the plane will be delivered to Sichuan Airlines by the end of June as scheduled,” Jean Luc Charles, general manager of the Airbus (Tianjin) Final Assembly Line Company, said after the test flight.

The A320 assembled in China “unquestionably demonstrates” the same quality and performance as those assembled and delivered in Hamburg and Toulouse, he said.

The company is a joint venture between Airbus and the Chinese consortium of Tianjin Free Trade Zone and China Aviation Industry Corp.

Airbus China holds a 51-percent stake and the consortium 49 percent.

The Tianjin assembly line, the third after Toulouse and Hamburg, will deliver two types of aircraft from the A320 family, the A319 and A320.

The A320 family, which includes the A318, A319, A320 and A321, is recognized as the benchmark single-aisle aircraft family.

“China has become more involved in the world’s aviation industry,” Professor Li Yanhua from the Civil Aviation University of China, said, adding that the huge market potential has lured the world’s aircraft giants such as Boeing and Airbus.

The assembly company is expected to deliver 11 A320s this year. Starting from 2011, it will be able to produce 48 A320s a year, Charles said.

“With the final assembly line here in Tianjin, we have deepened and expanded our industrial relationship, which is a key pillar of the internationalization strategy of Airbus,” he said.

According to a report by the Tianjin Airport-based Industrial Zone, China is the world’s second largest aviation market after the United States, and is estimated to need 2,670 passenger planes in the next 20 years.

Airbus said in February 2008 that the Chinese mainland would need more than 3,000 aircraft between 2006 and 2025, including 180 super jumbo passenger planes.

In addition to the Tianjin assembly line, Airbus purchased $70 million worth of high quality components and materials from Chinese firms in 2007.

Boeing and Airbus dominate the world’s large airplane market, and only manufacturers in the US, Europe and Russia own the technologies to build such planes.

China, however, is actively developing such technologies. It set up its first jumbo passenger aircraft company in Shanghai in May of last year.

Analysts have said China will play a bigger role in the world’s aviation industry with the Tianjin line in operation.

“China is an important part of the global aviation family,” Charles said.


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