Airbus Helicopters Opens New H135 Helicopter Assembly Line In Qingdao
Airbus Helicopters SAS, the helicopter manufacturing division of Airbus, has just expanded its operations in China with the inauguration of a new final assembly plant in Qingdao in the Shandong province. The new final assembly will begin its operations this week. With everything now in place, the first helicopter from the company that is completely assembled in China is expected to roll off the production line by the second half of the year.
The new assembly facility will be the first of its kind in China. The company currently has a number of production plants spread across Europe as well as in other countries such as Brazil, Spain, Australia, and the United States. The plant in China will be assembling the company's popular H135 twin-engine civil light utility helicopter.
The aircraft is able to fly under instrument flight rules and sports a digital automatic flight control system. Airbus expects to have orders of its popular utility aircraft for various uses in China including emergency medical services, law enforcement, firefighting, search and rescue operations, and government use. The country's tourism sector is also expected to become a major buyer for the company's aircraft.
Since its introduction in 1994, over 1,300 H135 helicopters have been delivered to different customers around the world, with an estimated 4.5 million flight hours rendered so far. Half of the firm's H135 helicopters in active use are in Europe, while a quarter is in North America.
According to Airbus, the facility should be able to roll out at least 18 brand new H135 helicopters per year. However, the company is planning to further expand the facility to double its annual capacity due to the growing demand. The firm plans to eventually develop an industrial park within its facilities, with spaces for suppliers already reserved.
Airbus is currently the largest manufacturer in the industry in terms of revenues and total deliveries. The Marignane, France-based firm estimates that demand for its product in China could reach over 600 units as the country plans to bolster its emergency medical and public services in the coming years.
Airbus Helicopters China general manager, Marie-Agnes Veve, stated in an interview that they see the Chinese market as an important factor in their future success. Veve further stated that the new plant in Qingdao will mark the start of a new chapter in Europe and China's renewed collaboration. During its opening, Veve reiterated the company's commitment to the country's helicopter industry and stated that they will continue to promote the strong spirit of cooperation between their firm and its Chinese partners.