Manufacturing News

Airbus to help maintain, upgrade, recycle aging planes in China

European aircraft manufacturer Airbus will set up its first sustainable aircraft life cycle services center in China in Chengdu, Sichuan province, as it eyes business opportunities emerging from China's increasing number of aging aircraft.

Airbus signed a memorandum of understanding with the city government of Chengdu and Tarmac Aerosave for the development of the center. It is also Airbus' first such facility outside of Europe.

With an investment of 6 billion yuan ($945 million), the center is located near Chengdu Shuangliu International Airport and is expected to be put into operation by the end of 2023, subject to relevant regulatory approval. A formal agreement to establish and frame the industrial cooperation is planned to be signed between the partners in mid-2022.

The center will provide services covering a wide range of activities, including aircraft parking, storage, maintenance, upgrades, conversions, dismantling and recycling for various aircraft types. The 690,000 square meter facility will be able to accommodate 125 aircraft at a time.

"This unique center will support the expansion of Airbus' aviation services while enabling the implementation of China's green industry strategy," said Klaus Roewe, senior vice-president of Airbus customer services.

"Aircraft phaseout in China is forecast to grow exponentially over the next 20 years. Airbus is committed to investing in the region and this one-stop shop will see Airbus well-positioned in the Chinese aircraft 'second life' services market," he said.

In the next two decades, among in-service aircraft in China, the number of aircraft aged more than 12 years will increase by more than 15 percent per year. In the later stages of an aircraft's life cycle, it faces technical and asset management issues, Airbus said.

Tarmac Aerosave, a French aircraft-dismantling provider, which dismantled several retired Airbus A380 before, will bring its expertise in eco-efficient aircraft dismantling to the project. Located in the same center, Airbus' subsidiary Satair will acquire aging aircraft and then trade and distribute the resulting used parts to complete the full scope of life cycle services.

Airbus said it will continue to deploy its sustainability roadmap for the aviation industry, enabling the increased reuse of aircraft and the recycling of materials and equipment.

"Airbus has been constantly exploring local cooperation since we entered the China market. Next, we will continue to increase our investment efforts in after-sales services," said George Xu, Airbus China CEO.

"The center in Chengdu is expected to drive the development of related sectors, which include the trade of secondhand aircraft, aircraft maintenance, repair, dismantling, and green recycling of aircraft. The recycled use of dismantled parts is foreseen to help carriers lower their operational costs and raise the utilization rates of components," Xu said.

Zou Jianjun, a professor at the Civil Aviation Management Institute of China, said, "With global trade frictions, and the European Union having frozen the ratification process of the Comprehensive Agreement on Investment, Airbus' further investment in China shows its recognition of China's business environment and its confidence in the investment."

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