Aims To Increase Deliveries Of Most Popular Model
We're not sure how -- or if -- the Midwestern axiom "ya gotta
make hay when the sun shines" translates into Chinese. It was with
this mindset, however, European planemaker Airbus began work
Tuesday on its joint venture A320 assembly line in Tianjin, China,
while also announcing increases to the production rate of its most
popular line of aircraft.
As Aero-News reported,
development of the Tianjin plant was part of a 170-plane deal
Airbus signed with China in 2006. The facility, slated to begin
delivering aircraft in the first half of 2009, will eventually
produce four planes per month, all for the Chinese market.
Airbus was quick to point out the Tianjin plant will have no
impact on China's own plans to begin work on a homegrown, large
"China, undoubtedly, has the ability to develop its own large
airplanes," Airbus said, adding the agreement should have the
effect of "strengthening industrial cooperation with China will
help us achieve higher growth in this booming market."
The plant also serves to strengthen deliveries of Airbus' A320
aircraft family, the most brilliant ray of light in the
planemaker's currently dour situation. The A320 is Airbus' most
popular model by far, with sales of over 5,000 aircraft since its
Overall, Airbus hopes to raise A320 output to 40 planes per
month by the end of 2009, including those built in China.
Currently, Airbus sends 32 A320s out the door from plants in
Germany and France each month.
The planemaker also said this week it will consider raising
production of its widebody A330/A340 lines beyond its current plans
to lift output from nine planes per month, already two planes above
current production levels.
Nearly all of that increase will be in the form of the A330
twinjet, which has experienced a surge in sales due, in part, to
continuing delays in the planemaker's A350 XWB program. To
compensate customers for delays in receiving their A350s, Airbus
has offered customers attractive deals on A330s as a stopgap
measure, until the newer planes are ready for delivery.
Airbus is also likely hoping for a bump in A330 sales, should
the US Air Force select the EADS/Northrop Grumman KC-330 (above) in
its KC-X tanker competition. The plane -- essentially a commercial
A330-200 adapted for the tanker role -- is competing against
Boeing's similarly modified KC-767.