Airbus' Bejing-based engineering centre (ABEC) has been operational now for more than a year,
ABEC, a joint venture between Airbus and China's two largest aviation companies - China Aviation Industry Corporation I (AVICI) and China Aviation Industry Corporation II (AVICII), first opened for business early in 2006. The aim of the centre was to provide Airbus with a significant foothold in the fast-growing Chinese region, to make the most of local engineering design talent and industrial possibilities. The announcement in October 2006 of the construction of an A320 final assembly line in China (FAL-C) further strengthened Airbus' commitment to international co-operation in the country.
ABEC's engineers will work on specific design packages for new programmes, which will be manufactured later on by Chinese industry, and they are due to play an important role in the design and development of the A350 XWB.
Airbus has a 70 per cent stake in ABEC with AVICII holding 25 per cent and AVICI 5 per cent. Engineers are being recruited through Airbus' two Chinese partners as well as from universities and free market, which ensures a mix of skills and experience. The engineers are already quite experienced and well trained but must understand Airbusâ€™ methods and standards of working, so that they fit with existing teams. With this in mind, most of the new recruits receive training at Airbus sites, including Hamburg, Getafe, St Martin and St Eloi and also now at the Beijing centre.
The engineering centre is well on target to reach a head count of 200 locally trained engineers by 2008 with 104 locally employed engineers working at the centre and the latest recruits - 33 engineers - having just returned from their training in Europe. And the proportion of women working at ABEC is more than 27 per cent.
In the run-up to starting work on the A350 XWB, ABEC engineers have been tackling work packages including designs and modifications for existing Airbus programmes.