Manufacturing News

Airbus China joint venture delivers

The country made a major move up the manufacturing value chain over the weekend as an Airbus joint venture in Harbin churned out its first work package, a set of A320 elevators.

Experts say it will still take time, however, for the domestic firms to improve their own research and development.

European aircraft producer Airbus holds a 20 percent stake in the Harbin Hafei Airbus Composite Manufacturing Center, which began parts production at the end of 2009 for the A320, a single-aisle passenger plane.

The center is one of six enterprises engaged in components production including back boarding gates and cargo doors for Airbus. Half of the 5,900 Airbus planes in operation worldwide have parts made in China, where Airbus is expected to raise its purchasing sum to $450 million by 2015 from $200 million this year.

Laurence Barron, president of Airbus China, said last month the company was prepping one or two joint ventures outside traditional industrial areas in China, which may include aircraft financing and leasing, air traffic control, maintenance, repair and overhaul, and onboard wireless communications connectivity.

"Global aviation manufacturing has shown a 'going east' wave, mainly to China or India," said Li Xiaojin, professor from the Civil Aviation University of China, and he attributed the move to strong market demand and a lower production cost.

"China's involvement in global aviation manufacturing may improve its independent innovation ability," Li said but warned that China still lags behind global players in terms of technology and researchers.

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