The first A320 aircraft assembled outside Europe in the Airbus Final Assembly Line China (FALC) successfully completed its first four hour and fourteen minute test flight today in the northeastern Chinese city of Tianjin.
''The flight was a complete success thanks to excellent teamwork,'' said Fernando Alonso, Senior Vice President Flight & Integration Tests, Airbus. ''I was delighted to participate in this historic flight. This A320 assembled in China unquestionably demonstrated the same quality and performance as those assembled and delivered in Hamburg or Toulouse.''
This first aircraft will be delivered to Dragon Aviation Leasing in June from the Airbus Delivery Centre in Tianjin and will be operated by Sichuan Airlines.
Chinese customers have ordered more than 700 aircraft from Airbus, the majority of which are from the A320 Family. Eleven A319/A320 aircraft are scheduled for delivery in Tianjin in 2009 and the FALC production rate will be ramped up to four aircraft per month by the end of 2011.
More than 470 Airbus aircraft already are in operation with airlines in China, Hong Kong and Macau. China Southern Airlines has ordered five A380s, and the potential for further Airbus growth in the region is huge.
Within the next 20 years, China is expected to become the second biggest aviation market in the world. By 2020, some 100 million Chinese tourists will be travelling internationally.
Shanghai-based CAAC, now China Eastern Airlines, is now Airbus' biggest customer in China with a fleet of more than 140 aircraft while Guangzhou-based China Southern Airlines also operates more than 130 aircraft, Air China has more than 75 and Chengdu-based Sichuan Airlines has a fleet of more than 35 Airbus's.
Over half the Airbus fleet in service worldwide, has parts produced by Chinese companies.
Airbus has a customer support centre in Beijing, which stocks approximately 25,000 spare parts available for dispatch to airlines in the Asia-Pacific region and was the first organisation in China to earn EN9100 approval.
In addition, more than 20 European and American vendors supporting Airbus customers operate out of the centre, which also has a dedicated avionics repair workshop.
The A320 FALC is a joint-venture between Airbus and a Chinese consortium comprising Tianjin Free Trade Zone (TJFTZ) and China Aviation Industry Corporation (AVIC). Airbus China holds 51 per cent of the shares, while the Chinese Consortium holds 49 per cent.
The FALC in Tianjin is based on the latest state-of-the-art Airbus single-aisle Final Assembly Line in Hamburg, Germany. FALC started work in August 2008.
The A320 Family, which includes the A318, A319, A320 and A321, is recognized as the benchmark single-aisle aircraft family.
Each aircraft features fly-by-wire controls and all share a unique cockpit and operational commonality across the range. More than 6,300 Airbus A320 Family aircraft have been sold and more than 3,800 delivered to some 300 customers and operators worldwide, making it the worlds best-selling commercial jetliner ever.