AgustaWestland is preparing to source A109 components in China before moving forward with plans to establish an assembly line at Changhe Aircraft Industries.

The two manufacturers signed a framework agreement last year that envisaged a Chinese A109 assembly line being established in 2004. But follow-up talks have progressed slowly and an AgustaWestland source says it is still not ready to set a start-up date for the assembly line.

Instead, AgustaWestland plans to award Changhe a supplier contract within the next few months and help the company gradually build A109 capability before an assembly line is established. Once it has the capacity to assemble A109s, Changhe will also be put in charge of sales in the local market.

Textron, meanwhile, is opening an office in Beijing this month to better support activities in China of aerospace manufacturing subsidiaries Bell Helicopter, Cessna and Lycoming.

Source: Flight International