Airbus China considers local manufacture of Airbus A320 wings, UK could lose exclusive hold on assembly work

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Production outsourcing plans could see UK lose exclusive hold on assembly work

Wings for the A320s that Airbus will assemble in China could be produced locally as part of the European manufacturer's plans to outsource more production to the Asian country. The move would see the UK lose its exclusive hold on Airbus wing production.

Airbus China president Laurence Barron says the wings for the four A320s due to roll off the new assembly line at Tianjin each month would "ideally" be manufactured in-country, but whether this happens or not, "we have a plan to have four shipsets a month for the wing".

A320 leading and trailing edges are already produced in-country and next year China will start delivering A320 wing boxes. As the country will be capable of producing most of the parts for the A320 wing, local assembly of the entire wing would remove the need for all its components to be shipped to the UK for assembly. Airbus UK says it already has about 200 workers in China as part of a "long-term strategic partnership".

Fuselage and empennage subassemblies for the A320 line will be shipped in kit form from Europe by sea using existing suppliers.

 
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Airbus's Louis Gallois and CASGC president Li Hai seal the A320 deal

China Aviation Supplies Import and Export Group last week signed a deal with Airbus chief executive Louis Gallois for 150 Airbus A320-family aircraft along with a letter of intent for 20 A350 XWBs.

The assembly plant at Beijing's port city of Tianjin will be modelled on the latest A320-family assembly line in Hamburg, Germany, opened three years ago. It will be a joint venture with a Chinese state-owned consortium that includes Tianjin Free Trade Zone and the country's two major aerospace conglomerates, China Aviation Industry (AVIC) I and AVIC II. The Tianjin plant will be Airbus's third single-aisle final assembly plant beside the existing lines in Toulouse, France (A320) and Hamburg (A318/A319/A321).

Barron says the Tianjin plant will be built in time to start delivering aircraft to Chinese airlines from 2009. The aim is to produce four aircraft a month by 2011.