European aircraft manufacturer Airbus said it plans to expand the capability of its final assembly line in Tianjin to A321 production, and expects to deliver the first A321 aircraft from Tianjin in the fourth quarter of 2022.
Airbus signed a framework agreement with its Chinese partners in Tianjin on Thursday.
Globally, Airbus has four A320 family assembly facilities. They are in Toulouse, France; Hamburg, Germany; Mobile, United States and Tianjin. Airbus is upgrading its industrial capability at all of its facilities to meet increasing demand for the A321.
Now, only Hamburg and Mobile have the capabilities for A321 delivery. Adaptation work for A321 in Toulouse will be performed in the future. All A320 family assembly line of Airbus will eventually become A321-ready to meet the rising share of this aircraft model in the backlog.
Airbus said it plans to gradually raise the production rate of single-aisle aircraft. Currently, Airbus produces 45 single-aisle aircraft a month. By 2025, Airbus plans to bring the number to 65, and the A321 is expected to account for about half of the total.
The A321 serves as a single-aisle aircraft that is longer than the A320. It can hold 20 percent more passengers than the A320, and it is capable of flying up to 8,700 kilometers on a full tank of fuel.
“Chinese airlines are expected to purchase more A321s in the future, and delivering the aircraft model in Tianjin will make the process more convenient,” said Michel Tran Van, chief operating officer of Airbus China.
“In order to have the production and delivery capabilities of the A321 and implement necessary changes in Tianjin, the facility will start adaptation work from July 2022, which will not affect the capacity or the production rate of the final assembly line in Tianjin,” Tran Van said.
Next, about half of the production capacity will be designed to meet the demand of A321, and Airbus will hire more employees for production work.
Airbus has operated the Tianjin final assembly line for A320 for more than 12 years. So far, it has delivered more than 500 planes of the A320 family in Tianjin to Chinese airlines and some Asian carriers.
“The latest movement shows Airbus’ further recognition of China’s assembly skills and its important role in the global aviation supply chain, as well as China’s investment environment. China’s huge domestic market also shows a significant demand for commercial aircraft,” said Zou Jianjun, a professor at the Civil Aviation Management Institute of China.
China will have continued high demand for single-aisle airplanes and will need nearly 6,500 single-aisle aircraft by 2040, according to forecasts from US aircraft manufacturer Boeing.
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