01 October 2013

Airbus and Boeing have similar joint ventures in China with the same company AVIC to manufacture composite parts for A350 and for all Boeing models.

Airbus is looking to deepen its ties with China despite wider industry concerns surrounding technology transfer to the emerging aerospace power.

Chinese production of components for the A350 is already under way at the Harbin Composite Manufacturing Centre (HMC), a joint venture between Airbus (20%) and local partners (80%).

First elevators manufacturing is on progress in HMC and it aims to be the sole producer of rudders, section 19 maintenance doors and belly fairing parts for the A350 by 2017.

Jose Antonio Veroz, the plant´s general manager, says that there are no plans to increase the list of A350 parts made at the site. “There is no additional workload of the A350 planned for China now” he says, noting that the facility is specifically sized to cope with the production demands of the new widebody.

Although he concedes that costs of Harbin will initially be higher than elsewhere, these should decrease as the facility becomes more efficient. Airbus´s business case “is not built in the short term”, he says.

Airbus has stipulated that the factory can only carry out work for its programs. However, this restriction may be loosened if opportunities become available. “In the future if it´s beneficial to us and our partners and it makes commercial sense to develop parts for other manufacturers, including Comac, there is a possibility” says HMC´s head of international co-operation Gao Zheng.

Airbus China COO González Ripoll adds: “Airbus is in China to stay. Our wish is to have long-term partnerships with the Chinese. We are looking for such opportunities”

Boeing Tianjin Composite joint venture with AVIC, located in Tianjin, has 1000 employees and manufactures interior parts and composite structures. 737 horizontal stabilizers are also manufactured and assembled in China (by SAMC) in a 10-year contract until 2021.

Boeing has no intention of setting up a final assembly line in China –as Airbus has done in Tianjin for A320- according to Boeing China president Marc Allen. “We´re not going to do a me-too!” he says, even if there is a need to ramp up production rates in the future. “Will we do a big thing here in the future? Yes, absolutely. But not that.”

“We will help Chinese suppliers expand through raising their capabilities. That way, if we up our production rates, the impact reaches right into China”.

Boeing is the world´s largest purchaser of aerospace components out of China ($1,5 billion in hardware and services since 1980). Chinese components are flying on 7000 Boeing airliners worldwide.

Based on the article “Airbus seeks to bolster Chinese links” published in FlightGlobal and based on the article “Boeing- No final assembly in China” published in ShowNews – Aviation Now.

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