As expected, Airbus has confirmed that ‘green’ A330s built in Toulouse will be flown to Tianjin in China to a new completion facility which will value add to the basic airframes before delivery to customers under a newly agreed framework with its PRC partners.
The move is seen as adding to the success of Airbus in winning large orders for wide body and single aisle jets in China.
It has been criticised in some quarters for its intellectual property risks. Given the massive fleets of western jets operated by PRC carriers, and the extensive maintenance work done on them in China, this criticism may be long out of date, with the focus of western airframe and engine makers being winning sales in the world’s fastest growing aviation market.
The earlier Plane Talking story on the probability of an A330 factory in China can be read here.
Airbus issued this statement:
Airbus and its Chinese partners, the Tianjin Free Trade Zone Investment Company Ltd. (TJFTZ) and the Aviation Industry Corporation of China (AVIC), have signed a framework agreement on establishing an A330 Completion and Delivery Centre (C&DC) in Tianjin, China. The framework agreement firms-up the Letter of Intent signed by the three parties in 2014. The agreement takes the partnership between Airbus and China a further step forward following the successful establishment of an A320 Family Final Assembly Line and Delivery Centre (FAL-Asia) in 2008.
The agreement was signed by Fabrice Brégier, Airbus President and CEO, Yang Bing, President of the TJFTZ and Pang Zhen, Vice President, Commercial Aircraft, AVIC, at Airbus’ HQ in Toulouse, France. The signature was witnessed by visiting Chinese Premier Li Keqiang and French Prime Minister Manuel Valls. Prior to the visit of Airbus, Premier Li and Prime Minister Valls presided over a Europe-China Economic Forum held in Toulouse.
“Building on our successful cooperation with China, highlighted by the A320 Family Final Assembly Line in Tianjin, our partnership keeps growing and expanding. The signature of this framework agreement on the A330 Completion and Delivery Centre opens a new chapter of strategic cooperation on wide-body aircraft with China. Together, we will develop new facilities and capabilities, and attract new suppliers and businesses in China,” said Fabrice Brégier, Airbus President and CEO.
The A330 C&DC Tianjin will be located near the site of the Airbus A320 Family Final Assembly Line in Tianjin. Under the project, the A330 Family aircraft will be assembled in Toulouse and the ‘green’ aircraft will be flow to the C&DC where completion activities including cabin installation, aircraft painting, engine run and flight test, as well as aircraft delivery and customer flight acceptance will be carried out.
In parallel Airbus has also signed a Letter of Intent with AVIC on cabin development cooperation and procurement frame contract with Zhejiang Xizi Aerospace Fastener Co., Ltd for design, development, manufacturing, and supply of standard fastener parts.
At present, the in-service Airbus fleet with Chinese operators comprises over 1,150 aircraft (over 150 A330 Family and over 980 A320 Family aircraft). In the 20 year period between 2014 to 2033 Airbus forecasts a demand in China for more than 5,300 new commercial passenger and freighter aircraft (sized over 100 seats).