AIM Altitude is in the early stages of evaluating the business case for a new facility in China.
The UK aircraft interiors specialist has in the past made no secret of its interest in a competitively priced overseas manufacturing facility, and impetus was added when it was acquired by Chinese state-owned airframer AVIC in January 2016 .
"We are potentially looking at a low-cost factory in China to help with incremental extra volume," said group commercial director Richard Bower at the opening of AIM's new 15,600m² (168,000ft²) cabin facility at Bournemouth airport in southwest England on 19 December.
However, Bower cautions that there is "no firm timeline" for opening any Chinese site as the company is in the early stages of building a business case.
Nonetheless, there are clear opportunities for AIM in the country. It is a supplier to the Airbus A320, A330 and Boeing 737, and all three programmes have growing links with China. Airbus has a narrowbody final assembly line in Tianjin, which will be augmented from September 2017 with an A330 completion and delivery centre.
And later this decade Boeing is to establish a completion and delivery centre for the 737 in Zhoushan. In addition, the US airframer and AVIC/AIM recently signed a memorandum of understanding to "work together to supply aircraft galley and cabin interiors in China".
There are also obvious links between AVIC and Comac, which is developing an indigenous aircraft, the C919, as a rival to the Western narrowbody duopoly.
"Under AVIC ownership we are much closer to the Comac organisation and business but we are only in preliminary discussions about that.
"There is no [production] volume on the C919 for a few years and although we are in a better place to benefit from that, it is early days," says Bower.
Additionally, the recent acquisition by AVIC of Northern Irish premium seating manufacturer Thompson Aero Seating could also benefit AIM, argues Bower.
"It gives us more opportunity in the premium cabin to offer products which are integrated and complementary," he says.
AIM's new Bournemouth facility consolidates into one building eight existing sites for its cabin interiors division, which produces items such as the bar area for Emirates A380s.
Source: Cirium Dashboard