Airbus has begun despatch of the first aircraft sections of the A320 aircraft to the new assembly line in Tianjin, China, the Toulouse-based aircraft manufacturer said Tuesday. Current plans call for assembly of the first aircraft at the Tianjin facility to begin August, and delivery to launch customer, Szechuan Airlines, to take place by end-June next year.
According to company reports, six jigs loaded with the forward and rear fuselage section, a pair of wings, the horizontal and vertical tail-plane and engine pylons have departed Hamburg, Germany, on a barge headed for the nearby container terminal at Hamburg Harbour. These sections will then be transferred to a commercial container ship bound for Tianjin, which is expected to make the trip in less than a month.
''The transportation of these aircraft sub-assemblies marks another important milestone for our assembly line in China,'' said Airbus A320 programme executive vice president, Alain Flourens. ''The construction work on the site is progressing successfully and the training of the Chinese workers at our production facilities in Toulouse and Hamburg is going very well.''
The Tianjin assembly line is expected to increase the overall A320 production rate to 40 per month by 2010. It is mainly meant to produce aircraft for the Chinese market, where Airbus expects passenger traffic to grow fivefold over the next 20 years.
According to Airbus estimates, mainland China alone represents a total demand for 2,670 new passenger aircraft.
The Tianjin assembly line is a joint venture between Airbus, which holds a 51-per cent interest, and a Chinese consortium consisting of the Tianjin Free Trade Zone (TJFTZ), AVIC I and AVIC II.