Alongside Tianjin airport in the north-eastern coastal Chinese city is the Tianjin Free Trade Zone, a sprawling area of flat vacant land, industrial estates and the new home of Airbus’s first assembly plant outside Europe.
Two buildings, for housing Airbus aircraft parts, have been completed, as has the main assembly plant. Within that plant sits what will be the first Airbus aircraft assembled in China.
The A320 sits at one end of the plant and is undergoing stage one of what is a four-stage process inside the final assembly plant.
This first aircraft is due to be completed June next year. Sichuan Airlines will lease the aircraft, manufacturer’s serial number 3591, from Chinese lessor Dragon Aviation Leasing.
Having an assembly line for its A320 family of twinjets in China puts Airbus on a stronger commercial footing in the country and gives the European aircraft-maker the potential to produce aircraft more profitably.
For China, having an Airbus factory demonstrates to the world the country can produce aircraft to an international standard. Airbus’s plant will also attract investment from Airbus suppliers and other foreign aerospace companies.