China to complete A320-family wings

By Leithen Francis

Airbus has decided that Xian Aircraft will complete the wings to be installed on Airbus A320-family aircraft assembled at Airbus Tianjin.

The European aircraft-maker says in a statement that Xian Aircraft will be building a factory near the Airbus Tianjin factory in northeast China and that this new Xian Aircraft factory will do the final phase work on A320-family wings.

The final phase work includes installation of systems and movable surfaces as well as testing, it says.

This work contract to Xian Aircraft is significant because currently only Airbus UK does final phase work on A320-family wings.

But Xian Aircraft already produces A320-family wing boxes plus Xian Aircraft and China's Shenyang Aircraft produce leading and trailing edges for the wings.

With so much of the work already being done in China, Airbus China decided it would be impractical to ship the wing-boxes to the UK for final phase and then ship the wings back to China again.

Having the new Xian Aircraft factory so close to the Airbus Tianjin final assembly plant "is the most efficient industrial solution," says Airbus senior VP, Brian Fleet, adding that "it will save transportation costs, reduce lead-time and risks in handling" as well as ensure quicker response times to customers.

Xian Aircraft president Meng Xiangkai says in the statement: "We have already been successful with the first three phases of the wing programme and we are confident we will be successful with the fourth phase."

Airbus says Xian Aircraft's new factory in Tianjin will start wing equipping operations at the end of this year and deliver its first fully-equipped wing in the first quarter of 2010.

Production will be increased to two units per month by the end of 2010 and four per month by the end of 2011, it says.

Airbus Tianjin has started assembly of Airbus A320-family aircraft and the first is due to be delivered to China's Sichuan Airlines in June after completing a flight test where the aircraft will take off and land at Tianjin airport.

Work on the first aircraft, manufacturer's serial number 3591, started on 18 August and the assembly plant is able to assembly four aircraft at a time.

Airbus Tianjin plans to increase production volume and complete four aircraft a month in 2011.

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