Airbus has started sending the first aircraft sections to the new A320 assembly line in Tianjin, China, the company announced today. Plans call for assembly of the first aircraft to start in August. Airbus expects launch customer Sichuan Airlines to take delivery of the first airplane by the end of June next year.
Six jigs loaded with the forward and rear fuselage section, a pair of wings, the horizontal and vertical tailplane and engine pylons have departed Hamburg, Germany, on a barge headed to the nearby container terminal at Hamburg Harbor. There, workers will transfer the parts onto a commercial container ship bound for Tianjin. Overall, the trip to China will last less than a month.
“The transportation of these aircraft subassemblies marks another important milestone for our assembly line in China,” said Airbus A320 program executive vice president Alain Flourens. “The construction work on the site is progressing successfully and the training of the Chinese workers at our production facilities in Toulouse and Hamburg is going very well.”
Airbus expects the final assembly line in China to increase the overall A320 production rate to 40 per month by 2010. The Chinese final assembly line will mainly produce aircraft for the Chinese market, where Airbus expects passenger traffic to grow fivefold in the next 20 years, resulting in a total demand total for 2,670 new passenger aircraft.
The final assembly line in China involves a joint venture between Airbus, which holds a 51-percent interest, and a Chinese consortium consisting of the Tianjin Free Trade Zone (TJFTZ), AVIC I and AVIC II.