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Airbus Announces New Chinese Finishing Center; Won’t Commit to Larger Plant

Executives claim lack of orders and extreme competition for not opening larger facility.

As Airbus opens their first finishing plant in China, the manufacturer of the A380 is putting strict limits on their relationship with the growing country. On March 2, 2016, the French aircraft manufacturer announced the construction of a new A330 finishing center, expanding their current facility in Tianjin.

The new plant will work alongside the A320 finishing plant, expanding the facility that currently finishes four aircraft per month. The new operation will allow finishing work to be completed on A330 airframes destined for Chinese carriers, including cabin installation and painting. Executives at Airbus say the expansion is in response to a growing demand for aircraft and aviation infrastructure in China, with a projected annual air traffic growth of over 6 percent.

“This event is significant because the A330 C&DC in Tianjin is our first completion and delivery center for widebody aircraft outside Europe,” Airbus president and chief executive Fabrice Brégier said in a statement. “Airbus’ long-standing cooperation with China spans single aisle and now also widebody aircraft and we will continue to look for further opportunities in the future.”

However, the manufacturer stopped short of committing to a much larger role in China. According to Bloomberg, Brégier noted in a media briefing the manufacturer has not begun discussions about opening a full manufacturing line for the A330 or A350 in China, claiming current orders are not enough to justify building a full assembly line. Furthermore, the executive announced they would not work in collaboration with Comac, the state-owned manufacturer that launched the C919 in 2015 as a potential competitor to the A320.

“We don’t want to cooperate with Comac,” Brégier told Bloomberg. “We’re not producing engines, we’re not producing electric equipment, we’ve no joint venture with Chinese partners to support in the development of a competitor.”

Airbus’ groundbreaking marks the second finishing center to be announced in China in the last year. In September 2015, Boeing announced they would open a finishing center for 737 aircraft destined for Chinese carriers as part of a $38 billion commitment for future aircraft.

[Photo: EPA]

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ioto1902 March 4, 2016

Chinese have already the knowledge of how to build an aircraft though the homologation process, when you have to submit (surrender) all your plans and codes to Chinese experts who, by nature, are coming from your Chinese competitors, and when you have to pay for those experts to travel and visit carefully your plant. But, they don't yet have the know-how to design (create), and they will try to get that through any means. Any.