Airbus is strengthening its presence in Asia – a market which is shaping up as a key battleground for competition with rival Boeing.
Both companies have won billions of dollars in orders from leasing companies in the past three months in what is the fastest growing aviation market in the world.
Airbus says Asia is not only a major customer base but also an increasingly important source of industrial partnerships. Over the years this has seen aerospace manufacturers in countries such as China, India, Japan, South Korea and Malaysia supplying parts for the company’s various aircraft programmes.
The company’s planes gained early acceptance in Asia and industrial partnerships include major programmes in China, where it has built an A320 final assembly line in Tianjin. It will also start assembling larger A330s in the city.
Nearly 180 A320 aircraft assembled in Tianjin have been delivered and the current production rate is four aircraft a month.
Airbus has worked with Chinese industrial partners to manufacture parts and undertake design work for the new A350 XWB, the largely composite plane which is due to enter service later this year.
As well, Airbus has a large training centre in China which is equipped with four full-flight simulators and provides training for flight crews, mechanics and operation engineers, as well as cabin crews.
Singapore is also emerging as a significant regional centre for Airbus, and is home to a 16,700sq m warehouse containing 22,000 Airbus parts. It is the primary spare parts hub for the plane-maker in the Asia-Pacific region.
Airbus has plans with Singapore Airlines to build a state-of-the-art training facility with full-flight simulators for the complete Airbus product line, including the A320, A330, the new A350 XWB and A380.
Malaysia is an important industrial partner for Airbus, with suppliers working on a range of aircraft programmes, including a sustainable fuel project to conduct research in assessing bio-mass solutions towards any future jet fuel production in the region.
Among other countries, Airbus has also invested in an engineering centre in Bangalore, India, which is focusing on the development of advanced capabilities in the areas of modelling and simulation, covering such areas as flight management systems, computational fluid dynamics (CFD), as well as digital simulation and visualisation.
As well, Airbus is setting up in Vietnam where it is working with another company to produce composite spars and panels for the wing tip Sharklets fitted on A320s.
In Thailand it is making electronic versions of the standard flight operations manuals, for all Airbus aircraft types.
A spokesman said Airbus expected to develop further partnerships in the region.
Core market for Airbus:
Asia-Pacific is a core market for Airbus with customers from the region accounting for 30 per cent of all orders to date. More than 2500 Airbus aircraft are in service with over 100 airlines across the region.
The aircraft manufacturer estimates the region will receive about 12,800 new planes over the next 20 years – about 36 per cent of the global commercial deliveries.