Harbin Hafei Airbus Composite Manufacturing Center, a joint venture between Airbus Group SE and its Chinese industrial partners, is playing an increasingly vital role in the global supply chain for the European aviation group by producing composite materials components for its A320 and A350 planes.
The Chinese joint venture, with Airbus holding a 29 percent of stake, began with producing A320 components in 2009, including rudders and elevators. It has reached a milestone, delivering its 1,000th locally-made A320 rudder, and now serves as the sole global rudder supplier for that aircraft.
Airbus manufactures 5 percent of the airframe in China of its widebody A350 aircraft, and Chinese engineers participated in the initial research and development work. The Hafei manufacturing plant is responsible for manufacturing and assembling complete sets of elevators, in addition to the rudders and other mid-section A350 parts.
On Tuesday, a second workshop in the center began operations. The building is designed to improve storage capacity, assembly and deliveries for both the A320 and A350s by at least 20 percent, according to Airbus.
Rudders manufactured at the center are to be delivered to an Airbus site in Stade, Germany, where they will be fixed to an A320 vertical stabilizer, and then delivered to the A320 final assembly lines internationally.
"Currently, the center produces 48 rudders for the A320s monthly, and six A350 rudders monthly," said Wang Shuyi, the head of assembly and capacity at the joint venture.
Lin Zhijie, an aviation industry analyst and columnist at carnoc.com, one of China's biggest civil aviation websites, said Chinese aviation industry players were responsible for more important manufacturing jobs such as providing composite materials components to major aircraft manufacturers. This showed that their capabilities had become increasingly more skilled, Lin added.
Cao Shengli, general manager of AVIC Harbin Aircraft Industry Group Co Ltd, said the production work of the Hafei manufacturing center had established itself as a key part of the Airbus global supply chain.
"The center is endeavoring to become involved in the industry chains of the global aviation market," Cao added.
"In the future, the Hafei manufacturing center will continue to achieve business success, while becoming a model to support the Made in China 2025 strategy and the Belt and Road Initiative."
Francois Mery, chief operating officer of Airbus Commercial Aircraft China, said the Harbin center is now an integrated part of Airbus' global supply chain.
"The delivery of the 1,000th rudder for the A320 is an important milestone for the manufacturing center and for our long-term partnership with the Chinese aviation industry," Mery said.