European aircraft manufacturer Airbus has started commissioning the production of the Airbus A321 aircraft at its Final Assembly Line Asia facility in Tianjin, northern China. The significant milestone expands and deepens Airbus’ growing partnership with China’s aviation industry and further demonstrates both parties’ commitments to enhancing this strategic collaboration.
The new commission was unveiled at the Zhuhai Airshow 2022, where Airbus also took the opportunity to sign several cooperation agreements on post-sales services with its Chinese partners that cover a wide range of services, including maintenance, material services, and cabin seat solutions.
A strengthening presence in Tianjin
Inaugurated in 2008, the Final Assembly Line in Tianjian was the first-ever Airbus commercial aircraft assembly plant outside Europe. Within the same year, the first aircraft sections arrived promptly on site, and the first Airbus A320 was delivered from the facility in 2009. And 14 years of operations later, the facility has handed over more than 600 aircraft and has become a successful role model for Sino-European cooperation.
Photo: Getty Images
Last November, Airbus had plans to ensure the facility in Tianjin would be able to handle and assemble all members of the A320 family to make it on par with the rest of its assembly facilities worldwide. And in August this year, the Final Assembly Line in Tianjin officially began the adaption works required to become A321-capable and received its first two large portions of the aircraft – the nose and the fuselage, in mid-September.
Finally, the facility became A321-capable, and the Airbus Tianjin team expects the first A321 aircraft to be delivered within the first quarter of next year. George Xu, Airbus Executive Vice President and Chief Executive Officer of Airbus China, said:
“The Airbus Tianjin team has successfully completed the adaptation work on schedule by working closely with European experts and our suppliers to overcome the impact of COVID-19. The A321 is currently one of the most popular aircraft in the A320 family, and this is our latest step in China to show our unwavering support for the Chinese market.”
Enhancing supply to meet the growing demand
The demand for Airbus narrowbody aircraft has been surging within China, with just over half of China’s active passenger aircraft made by the French manufacturer at 2,097. As of end-October this year, Airbus delivered more than 90 aircraft to Chinese carriers, which accounted for over 20% of global deliveries, and at least 60% of those were produced in Tianjin.
However, Airbus’ current backlog of A321 aircraft accounts for an estimated 60% of its total worldwide backlog for the A320 family aircraft, for which production had slowed down quite a bit this year due to supply chain disruptions and labor shortages. With the Final Assembly Line in Tianjin now capable of producing the largest member of the aircraft family, Airbus is optimistic that its handover rates are likely to increase substantially.
Significantly since China’s aviation industry has been advancing monumentally within the past few years. The Chinese market’s promising potential has allowed worldwide upstream and downstream aircraft production companies to settle in Tianjin, enabling Airbus to readily team up with local aluminum and titanium suppliers to reduce the effects of supply chain shortages.
It will certainly be exciting to see the first Airbus A321 aircraft emerge from the Final Assembly Line in Tianjin next year. The aircraft will likely be handed over to a Chinese carrier, doubling the excitement. And while the production of the A321 aircraft within the Tianjin facility marks a significant milestone in the partnership between Airbus and China, a new milestone is steadily coming.
Having started construction in July, Airbus’ aircraft full lifecycle service center in Chengdu is scheduled to be ready within the fourth quarter of next year. The center’s completion will bring Airbus’ partnership with China into a complete circle to cover the entire industrial chain.
What do you think of Airbus’ expansion in China? And which airline do you think will receive the first A321 from the Tianjin facility? Let us know in the comments below.
Source: Xinhua News
- Stock Code:
- Date Founded:
- Guillaume Faury
- Headquarters Location:
- Toulouse, France
- Key Product Lines:
- Airbus A220, Airbus A320, Airbus A330, Airbus A340, Airbus A350, Airbus A380
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