Airbus Industrie is moving ahead with plans to subcontract A320 component manufacturing to China as the first step towards transferring a full wing production capability. At the same time, Boeing has linked its offer on 717 wing work to reaching a settlement with China over the stillborn MD-90 TrunkLiner programme.

China is expected to begin producing parts for the A320 as early as next year, starting probably with wing ribs and stringers. Aviation Industries of China (AVIC) has yet to select which facility to use, but Airbus will assist by conducting an audit of its main plants at Chengdu, Shanghai, Shenyang and Xian.

The audit will help determine the required investment in new production machinery and personnel training at each of the factories.

Airbus is planning a phased approach to the transfer of a full wing manufacturing capability to China. The next step could focus on areas such as flaps and ailerons.

The task of overseeing this programme has reverted directly to Airbus Industrie China, following the closure of Airbus Industrie Asia's office in Beijing. The Alenia-Airbus venture had been spearheading discussions with AVIC on the co-development of the now scrapped AE31X regional aircraft. The offer of A320 work is intended to compensate AVIC.

Boeing is also holding out the offer of 717 wing work as part of a wider contractual settlement with China. The two sides had hoped to reach a deal in August, but have been embroiled in financial claims and counter claims.

The US company is being billed by vendors and subcontractors for long-lead items ordered and supplied for the planned licence production of 20 MD-90s by Shanghai. Boeing is trying to recover the money from AVIC, which, in turn, is blaming the US company for undermining the programme by ending MD-90 production at Long Beach. Only two aircraft will now be completed by China.

Source: Flight International