Airbus Corporate jet owners in China will be able to have their aircraft cabins completed within the country following a landmark deal announced on 7 March between Airbus and the Taikoo Aircraft Engineering Company (TAECO).
TAECO - the subsidiary of Hong Kong based MRO specialist HAICO - has become the first Airbus approved cabin-outfitter in Asia-Pacific. According to the head of the Airbus business, Francois Chazelle, the Xiamen-based company will have the capabilities to produce a spectacular range of designs specifically aimed at the Chinese market.
The designs - known as Phoenix - were also unveiled in Hong Kong ahead of the Asian Aereospace event and feature a number of designs including round dining tables with lazy susans; particular colour choices and even a table that coverts into a Mah Jong board or poker table.
"The very first aircraft I delivered to a Chinese customer had a specially built games table," says Chazelle. "We recently had four Chinese VIPs on board an aircraft and they began playing cards and we realised there was a great design idea that would work with the market.
"Playing games of skill and chance is a passion in many Asian cultures so we designed the circular table to fold into a rectangular shape when needed, which is better suited to this activity," Chazelle says. "The Phoenix cabin concept can also offer an area for Karaoke, another activity typical of business entertainment and relaxation in much of Asia."
As with all of its corporate jets, Airbus offers its customers a choice of colours and fabrics and, for the Chinese market, it is proposing a decor featuring burgundy red.
Airbus currently has 23 corporate jets ordered for the Chinese market with eight having been delivered and four more in completions centres. This opens the door to a potential 11 aircraft for the new TAECO division to aim at.
"We understand TAECO will be looking for two aircraft a year. We have been involved with training and supporting the operation in Xiamen and we know they will do a good job," says Chazelle.
TAECO has already built a cabin mock-up to showcase its capability in the field and has a workforce of around 200 committed to the new venture.
"Expanding into cabin completions for Airbus corporate jets is an important and exciting new business opportunity for us, and we look forward to receiving the first jet," says TAECO chief executive Patrick Healy.
The move to approving a corporate jet outfitter in China will be seen to be a good one for Airbus, which is already winning the market share battle with rival Boeing. With the Chinese government likely to be a potential customer, the idea of being able to complete the aircraft cabin within China will be alluring.
Ten years ago there was a major controversy when a Chinese head of state aircraft was found to have a listening device installed after in had been completed in the USA. Those responsible were never identified.