Airbus (Toulouse, France) reported that the first A320 aircraft assembled outside Europe in the Airbus Final Assembly Line China (FALC) successfully completed its first flight on May 18. The aircraft took off from Tianjin International Airport at 10:42 am and landed at 2:56 pm. The test flight was jointly captained by Harry Nelson, vice president Production Flight Tests and by Experimental Test Pilot Philippe Pellerin. The other crew members were senior vice president Flight & Integration Tests Fernando Alonso and Zidan Ren, the first Chinese Flight Test Engineer trained by Airbus as well as cabin engineer Eric Garcia.
“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.”
“I would like to congratulate and sincerely thank all those in China and in Europe who, through their dedication and hard work, have made the first Airbus Final Assembly Line outside of Europe a reality,” says Laurence Barron, president of Airbus China. “Our commitment is to provide the very best aircraft and services to our customers and operators in China, while applying the same rules, procedures and quality standards as for any other Airbus aircraft produced in Europe. It highlights our commitment to the development of a long-term strategic partnership with the Chinese aviation industry.”
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.
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 percent of the shares, while the Chinese Consortium holds 49 percent. 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.