In an illustration of the increasing impact China is exerting in today’s global economy, Airbus officially opened its first final assembly line outside of Europe there on Sept. 28.
The Final Assembly Line in Tianjin, China (FALC) is a joint venture between Airbus and a Chinese consortium comprising the Tianjin Free Trade Zone and China Aviation Industry Corp.
"The Tianjin final assembly line for Airbus A320-family aircraft has been set as a paradigm of Sino-European friendship and cooperation,” said Tianjin Mayor Huang Xingguo. “Based on mutual trust and close-knit cooperation, the two parties have commenced the final assembly of the first aircraft within only one year and three months from the beginning of the facility construction till present and created a miracle in the history of this giant project."
Said Tom Enders, President and CEO of Airbus: "The opening of the FALC is an historic event for Airbus and for the aviation industry. The first Airbus final assembly line outside Europe highlights the importance we attach to growing our partnership with China, one of the most important aviation markets today—and certainly tomorrow."
The operation in Tianjin is based on the latest state-of-the-art Airbus single-aisle final assembly line in Hamburg, Germany. The aircraft will be assembled and delivered in China to the same standards as those assembled and delivered in Europe.
The first aircraft assembled on the new line will be delivered to Sichuan Airlines through Dragon Aviation Leasing in mid-2009. The line will ramp up production to four aircraft per month by 2011.
The line is a demonstration of Airbus' commitment to forging a long-term strategic partnership with China, the company says. Six Chinese manufacturers are already involved in manufacturing parts, such as wing components, emergency-exit doors, and assembly and transportation tools for Airbus aircraft. In 2007, Airbus sourced $70 million worth of components and materials from Chinese companies. By 2010, Airbus purchasing from the Chinese aviation industry will almost triple to $200 million, before more than doubling again to $450 million by 2015, the company projects. By the end of August, there were 351 A320 family aircraft in operation (with 12 operators in China) and more than 400 on order.