Chinese suppliers consolidate rising status in global aviation industry
Published: Sep 29, 2021 06:12 PM
A delivery ceremony between AVIC and Airbus on Wednesday Photo: Courtesy of AVIC

A delivery ceremony between AVIC and Airbus on Wednesday Photo: Courtesy of AVIC

The Aviation Industry Corporation of China (AVIC) said on Wednesday that it has delivered the first unit of A320 fuselage equipping and the 500th unit of A320 wing equipment to European aircraft manufacturer Airbus, in another example of cooperation between China and European countries in the aviation sector. 

"It is another symbol of strengthening international cooperation, and it shows we are actively integrating into the global aviation supply chain," Lu Guangshan, chief engineer of AVIC, said at a delivery ceremony at the sidelines of the ongoing Zhuhai airshow in South China's Guangzhou Province.

The fuselage equipping project was witnessed by Chinese and European leaders in September of 2019, and the project was started in June of 2021 in North China's Tianjin Municipality.

The delivery is the result of ongoing collaboration between the two parties, which have overcome the negative effect caused by the COVID-19 pandemic, according to Airbus.

"Our cooperation with Chinese suppliers has covered all life cycles," Airbus China COO Michel Tran Van told the Global Times on Wednesday, noting that China is an integral part of the global aviation ecosystem and an important part of the Airbus global supply chain.

Chinese suppliers in particular are willing to invest in advanced technology, which  contributes to their competitiveness, he said. 

In July, Airbus received the 100th mid-fuselage for its A220 aircraft from a key supplier in Northeast China's Liaoning Province, following a A320 fuselage project undertaken by the Xi'an Aircraft International (Tianjin) Corp commenced operations in Tianjin in June.

Market watchers attributed these kinds of success stories to the recovery of the Chinese industry, which ultimately benefits Chinese suppliers and boosts confidence among global aviation giants. 

Chinese aerospace suppliers for Rolls-Royce have achieved an outstanding performance among global suppliers, and Chinese supplies proved resilient and competitive, Julian MacCormac, country director for China from UK-based Rolls-Royce Plc, told the Global Times on Tuesday.

Although our global purchasing value has declined, the purchasing value from China has been increasing as high-performing Chines suppliers win new contracts, MacCormac said. 

A number of suppliers are among our top performing suppliers globally and we have confidence that this will continue with the development and growth of civil aviation in China, he added. 

That demonstrates that China's aircraft component manufacturing capabilities are becoming stronger, and their capabilities have been widely recognized by the market, industry observer Lin Zhijie told the Global Times on Wednesday.

"In particular, maintaining robust production capacity during the pandemic will help stabilize Boeing's and Airbus's supply chains," he added.

A global suppliers list from Airbus showed that the number of qualified suppliers in Germany, France, Canada, and China have increased significantly, since the outbreak of pandemic.

Especially in China, the number of qualified suppliers has risen from 72 in 2016 to 97 in 2019, and reached 107 in 2021. China became one of the six countries with more than 100 qualified suppliers to Airbus. In comparison, the number of qualified suppliers in the US and the UK has declined during the pandemic.

"It is our strategic deployment of vertical international cooperation," said Tran Van.

Another bottleneck is that the transport is very challenging and finding local suppliers can optimize the process of  supply chain management, he added. 

China's aviation market has witnessed a rapid recovery following the pandemic, with domestic commercial aviation returning to near pre-pandemic levels.

Data from the Civil Aviation Administration of China showed that the air transportation industry has recorded a V-shaped recovery, with total transportation turnover of 46.50 billion ton-kilometers in the first half of 2021, an increase of 45.4 percent year-on-year. It has recovered to 74.1 percent of the level in the same period in 2019.

The rebound of Chinese civil aviation market had led the global recovery. Engine flying hours for wide-body aircraft in China's domestic market has essentially returned to the level before the pandemic, said Troy Wang, Rolls-Royce Civil Aerospace Customers SVP. 

The pace of recovery of wide-body market largely depends on resumption of international travels and borders reopening, he added.