Following two years of record orders for new jetliners, a principal consideration for the manufacturers is how best to manage assembly and provision of supplies to match the higher rates of aircraft delivery. One way European manufacturer Airbus is addressing this challenge is by establishing a final-assembly line for the A320 series of single-aisle jetliners in China.
Construction is already under way in Tianjin to provide hangars, offices, a delivery center and related services. The line is being set up under an agreement between Airbus and a Chinese consortium whose membership includes both elements of the Chinese Aviation Industry Corp., AVIC I and II.
Examples of A318, A319, A320 and A321 models will be assembled and delivered in China to the same standard as aircraft built in an identical facility in Germany. Final assembly operations are expected to begin in Tianjin in August next year, with the first completed aircraft delivered to a customer before July 2009. By 2011, Chinese production is expected to have reached some four units a month.
Tianjin output will contribute to total A320 series production by the end of 2009 of 40 units per month, 25 percent higher than current rates, which already represent a record for the aerospace industry. Airbus has increased manufacturing output as its order backlog has risen to more than 2,500 aircraft. In addition, Airbus has been turning out seven A330/A340 family models each month, a rate that also will be raised to nine by the end of 2009.