This week, one of Airbus’ suppliers in China began equipping Airbus A320 fuselages. By 2024, Xi’an Aircraft International will complete six fuselages per month, fully meeting the needs of Airbus’ final assembly line in Tianjin. The manufacturer said this further demonstrates its commitment towards vertical integration of its production in China.
First delivery in Q3 2021
On Tuesday this week, Airbus and China’s Aviation Industry Corporation (AVIC) launched their joint fuselage equipping project for the Airbus A320. The project, located in the province of Tianjin in North China or Huabei, was first initiated over two years ago.
Locally, it is undertaken by Xi’an Aircraft International (XAT), one of the close to 100 subsidiaries of state-owned AVIC. The aim is to supply Airbus’ A320 Final Assembly Line Asia and to accelerate Tianjin as the center for the manufacturer in China.
The first delivery of the Tianjin fuselage is scheduled for the third quarter of this year. Production capacity is intended to reach six fuselages per month in 2024. XAT will then fully meet the demand for the Tianjin final assembly line.
“The project is a new milestone in China-Europe cooperation and a further step forward of Airbus’ localization and vertical integration here in China,” Michel Tran Van, Chief Operating Officer of Airbus China, told China.org.
Mr Tran Van further added that the project was a testament to the manufacturing capabilities of the Chinese aviation sector. He also said it demonstrated Airbus’ long-term commitment to China.
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Overall, Airbus employs about 200 subcontractors in China, and its industrial annual spending in the country reached $1 billion in 2020. Meanwhile, the European planemaker has already been working with XAT since 2009 for the production of single-aisle aircraft wings. When commenting on the fuselage equipping, Ma Yan, President of XAT, told China Daily that,
“Since the signing of the contract in 2019, XAT quickly set up a fuselage development team, and together with Airbus’ German and French fuselage teams, we prepared a network plan for the development of the project, specifying more than 100 key process control nodes.”
Tianjin part of Airbus market majority
The manufacturer opened its first final assembly line outside of Europe in Tianjin in 2008 as a joint venture between Airbus, Tianjin Free Trade Zone (TJFTZ), and AVIC. In October last year, the facility completed its 500th A320. The milestone aircraft was delivered to China Southern Airlines. The Guangzhou-based carrier currently operates over 290 aircraft of the Airbus A320 family.
Currently, Airbus holds 53% of the market share in China. However, with challengers such as the homegrown COMAC C919 narrowbody set to acquire certification this year, that could very well change over the coming decades.
What do you think the future will look like for Airbus in China with COMAC on the rise? Will the investment into fully localized production pay off? Leave a comment below and let us know your thoughts.