By Charlotte Seet
Airbus Delivers First A350 from Widebody Center in China
The quick development of China’s aerospace and aviation industry has pushed it down the path to becoming one of the world’s largest aviation markets in the years ahead, as the world has seen the nation inch forward with the recent manufacturing of a next-generation widebody aircraft by the Commercial Aircraft Corporation of China, better known as COMAC.
The Chinese market was already a major customer of various Airbus products, with Chinese deliveries making up almost a quarter of the manufacturing company’s global commercial aircraft production.
For Airbus, China is much more than just a customer, but also a strategic partner going as far back as 2008, when the manufacturing company chose the city of Tianjin to house its first-ever final assembly line (FAL) outside of its four founding European countries.
This decision was part of Airbus’ expansion of its global footprint, as well as further a stepping stone in building and sustaining a long-term partnership with China.
That particular FAL was set up to produce the single-aisle Airbus A320 family of passenger aircraft and was later paired up with the Completion and Delivery Centre (C&DC) for the Airbus A330 back in 2017. Once again, the C&DC was Airbus’ first wide-body centre outside of the founding European countries.
Originally meant for the building of A330 family aircraft, the C&DC was later signed on extending its capability to the A350 family aircraft.
This meant that the widebody C&DC would cover operations such as aircraft completion activities from cabin installation and aircraft painting to customer flight acceptance and production flight testing. The C&DC would handle aircraft deliveries as well.
Today, Airbus reached another milestone in the country as the manufacturer officially delivered its first Airbus A350 XWB off the line from the C&DC in Tianjin, further solidifying the partnership the company shares with the country.
“I’m proud that Airbus successfully extended the capability of the wide-body C&DC in Tianjin to the A350, the latest new-generation aircraft, at such a difficult time of global aviation,” said George Xu, Airbus Executive Vice President and Airbus China CEO, in a press release.
The painted A350-900 aircraft was delivered to the largest Airbus operator in Asia and the second largest in the world, China Eastern Airlines. As of last month, the airline was operating a massive Airbus fleet of over 400 aircraft, which included 349 A320 family aircraft, 55 A330 family aircraft and nine A350 aircraft.
With the newest addition rolled fresh from the centre today, China Eastern Airlines would have 10 A350s in its expanding fleet.
Viewed as game-changers for short, medium and long-haul flights, the A320 family aircraft and A350 family aircraft have been immensely popular amongst airlines from around the world in recent years.
Even though the pandemic has slowed air travel down by quite a bit, it has not stopped the momentum the A350 carried into the beginning of 2020. Airbus has received more than 900 firm orders from almost 50 customers worldwide for the type as of the end of last month.
For Airbus and the local economy in China, this would hopefully mean that both the FAL and C&DC in Tianjin will be ramping up production capabilities for both the narrowbody and widebody aircraft families in the months and years to come.