Airbus Helicopters’ has opened a H135 final assembly line (FAL) in Qingdao, China – which not only marks the first helicopter FAL built by a foreign manufacturer in China, it also signifies the expansion of its industrial footprint and partnership with the country, as well as being the first H135 FAL outside of Europe.
The 6,500m2 Qingdao plant is composed of four working stations, a paint booth, ground and flight test areas, and a delivery centre – and the opening of it follows a co-operation agreement signed between Airbus Helicopters and China in 2016 for the purchase of 100 H135s specifically for the Chinese market, 95 of which will be assembled at the site from 2019 onwards. The site will employ around 40 people, 23 of whom received on-the-job training in Donauwörth, Germany.
“Beginning to manufacture H135s in Qingdao marks the start of a new chapter of Sino-European collaboration, as we become the first foreign helicopter manufacturer to open a manufacturing facility in China,” said Marie-Agnes Veve, General Manager of Airbus Helicopters China. “This achievement is a testament to our continued commitment to the Chinese helicopter industry and the strong spirit of cooperation that exists between us and our Chinese partners.”
The main fuselage, main gearbox and rear fuselage are some of the main components that will be shipped to Qingdao from Donauwörth and Albacete, Spain. The main aircraft roll-out from Qingdao is expected to take place in the second half of 2019 and operations will start with an annual capacity of 18 helicopters, which could be doubled to accommodate future growth, notes Airbus.
For more information, visit the Airbus website.