The first A320 aircraft assembled outside Europe in the Airbus Final Assembly Line China (FALC) successfully completed its first flight today. The aircraft took off from Tianjin International Airport at 10:42 am and landed at 14:56. The four hour and fourteen minute 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 per cent of the shares, while the Chinese Consortium holds 49 per cent. 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. The A320 Family, which includes the A318, A319, A320 and A321, is recognized as the benchmark single-aisle aircraft family. Each aircraft features fly-by-wire controls and all share a unique cockpit and operational commonality across the range. More than 6,300 Airbus A320 Family aircraft have been sold and more than 3,800 delivered to some 300 customers and operators worldwide, making it the worlds best-selling commercial jetliner ever. With proven reliability and extended servicing periods, the A320 Family has the lowest operating costs of any single aisle aircraft. Uniquely, the A320 Family offers a containerized cargo system, which is compatible with the world wide standard wide-body system.
Watch highlights from the 18 May 2009 maiden flight of the first A320 assembled on the Airbus Final Assembly Line China in this video clip