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Home>>Photo >> China
08:37, May 19, 2009

First China-assembled A320 test flight successful

An Airbus A320 plane takes off from Binhai International Airport during a test flight in Tianjin, north China, May 18, 2009. The plane is the first assembled at the Tianjin Airbus A320 assembly factory. It underwent a test flight of four hours and 10 minutes on Monday. (Xinhua/Liu Haifeng)

After four hours' flight, the first China-assembled Airbus A320 aircraft landed smoothly at Tianjin Binhai International Airport at 2:56 p.m. Monday, a symbol of successful test flight.

The aircraft will be delivered to Dragon Aviation Leasing in June from the Airbus Delivery Center in Tianjin and will be operated by Sichuan Airlines.

"I am confident that the plane will be delivered to Sichuan Airlines by the end of June as scheduled," said Jean Luc Charles, General Manager of the Airbus (Tianjin) Final Assembly Line Co. Ltd (FALC), after the test flight.

He also said that this A320 assembled in China unquestionably demonstrated the same quality and performance as those assembled and delivered in Hamburg or Toulouse.

The A320 FALC, which started to work in August 2008, is a joint-venture between Airbus and a Chinese consortium comprising Tianjin Free Trade Zone and China Aviation Industry Corporation (AVIC).

Airbus China holds 51 percent of the stakes, while the Chinese Consortium holds 49 percent.

The Tianjin assembly line, the third on top of two in Toulouse and Hamburg, is to deliver two types of aircraft of the A320 family -- A319 and A320. The A320 family, which includes the A318, A319, A320 and A321, is recognized as the benchmark single-aisle aircraft family.

An Airbus A320 plane lands at Binhai International Airport after a test flight in Tianjin, north China, May 18, 2009. (Xinhua/Liu Haifeng)

"China has become more involved in the world's aviation industry," said Professor Li Yanhua from the Civil Aviation University of China, citing that the huge market potential has lured world's aircraft giants as Boeing and Airbus.

The Tianjin-based assembly company is expected to deliver a total of 11 A320 aircraft this year. Starting from 2011, the company will be able to produce 48 A320 planes every year, according to Jean Luc Charles.

"With the final assembly line here in Tianjin, we deepen and expand our industrial relationship, which is a key pillar of the internationalization strategy of Airbus," said Jean.

According to a report by the Tianjin Airport-based Industrial Zone, China has become the world's second largest aviation market after the United States. The country is estimated to need 2,670 passenger planes in the next 20 years.

Crew members leaves the Airbus A320 aircraft after its test flight at Binhai International Airport in Tianjin, north China, May 18, 2009. (Xinhua/Liu Haifeng)

The Airbus company estimated in last February that the Chinese mainland would need more than 3,000 aircraft between 2006 and 2025, including 180 super jumbo passenger planes.

In addition to the Tianjin assembly line, Airbus purchased 70 million U.S. dollars worth of high quality components and materials from Chinese companies in 2007 alone.

Boeing and Airbus currently dominate the world's large airplane market, and only manufacturers in the U.S., Europe and Russia own the technologies to build such planes.

China, however, is actively developing such technologies. The country set up its first ever jumbo passenger aircraft company in Shanghai in May, 2008, taking a major step forward in its large jet program.

Analysts believe that China would play a bigger role in the world's aviation industry with the Tianjin line in operation, as final assembly lines stand for a core competitiveness of aviation manufacturers.

"China is an important -- and increasingly important -- part of the global aviation family," Jean said.

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