Airbus’ Chinese completion and delivery center has handed over its first A350-900 to China Eastern Airlines. The A350 is the first to be finished at the facility since it began working on the flagship widebody in 2019. It becomes the 10th A350 to join the China Eastern fleet, and takes its total fleet size to 600 aircraft.
Tianjin’s first A350 is delivered
The first A350 to be built at Airbus’ Tianjin plant in North China has rolled off the production line and been handed over to China Eastern. The Tianjin plant is the only facility outside of the EU capable of producing both the narrowbody and widebody products for Airbus. The widebody facility was brought online in September 2017 to produce the A330, but was extended to include the A350 in 2019.
The site also houses the final assembly line for the Airbus A320 family, and the Tianjin delivery center. The widebody completion and delivery center (C&DC) undertakes all completion activities, including painting, cabin installation, test flights and customer acceptance flights.
George Xu, Airbus Executive Vice President and Airbus China CEO, commented on the delivery, saying,
“I’m proud that Airbus successfully extended the capability of the widebody C&DC in Tianjin to the A350, the latest new generation aircraft, at such a difficult time of global aviation.
“This is a new milestone in the long-term cooperation between China and Airbus, which further demonstrates Airbus’ commitment to the country. Congratulations to China Eastern Airlines, our long-term strategic partner, for receiving the first A350 delivered from China, and I appreciate their trust in Airbus and in our products as always.”
The Tianjin C&DC is gradually ramping up its production capabilities on both the single-aisle and widebody sides. At the end of 2019, the facility was producing six A320 family jets per month, and is working towards adding one A350 per month to its output. While the pandemic has slowed things down a little, the facility is keen to get its production back on track in the coming months.
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The 10th A350 for China Eastern
The aircraft delivered today, registered B-323H, is the 10th A350-900 to join the fleet of China Eastern. The airline has been operating the type since November 2018, and has a further 10 on order from Airbus.
According to AIB Family Flights, the aircraft was first spotted in Toulouse in July 2020 in primer, and had undertaken a couple of engine runs and taxi checks in December that year. Its first flight was on December 14th, lasting almost four hours, after which it was briefly put into storage at Chateauroux.
The A350 made its way to Tianjin finally in April this year, ready for its cabin configuration and test flight. It took flight from the facility on June 10th, with a short trip of just over an hour before undertaking its customer acceptance flight on July 9th.
The Airbus widebody joins the huge fleet of China Eastern, becoming the 600th aircraft in its fleet. According to ch-aviation, the fleet is mixed between Boeing and Airbus, with around 250 A320 family aircraft and 150 737s providing short-haul capacity. On the widebody side, the airline operates just over 50 A330s, 20 777s and nine 787 Dreamliners, alongside its 10 A350-900s.