(The Airbus Group Exhibition Booth at Airshow China 2016)
Airbus Helicopters is moving forward with its strategic partnership with China, with construction now underway of its first helicopter assembly line in the country.
According to sources from Airbus Helicopters, the new final assembly line for its H135 chopper in Qingdao, Shandong province, is the first for the company in China.
Costing more than 10 million euros ($11.21 million), the plant is expected to be completed by 2018. Under a framework agreement signed in June last year, 100 Airbus H135s will be assembled over the next 10 years and the first aircraft rollout from Qingdao is planned for mid-2019. The production line will have a total installed annual capacity of 18 helicopters, which can be extended for future growth.
The new facility, located in the Jimo Hi-Tech Industrial Development Zone, will be operated by Airbus Helicopters and Qingdao United General Aviation Co Ltd, a joint venture between China Aviation Supplies Holding Co and Qingdao United General Aviation Industrial Development Co Ltd. Airbus Helicopters holds a majority share of 51 percent in the joint venture.
The H135 is a light twin-engine helicopter, mainly operating in emergency medical services, search and rescue, law enforcement, firefighting and tourism. To date more than 1,200 helicopters in the H135 family have gone into operation internationally.
In 2016, China became Airbus Helicopters' biggest civilian market in terms of annual orders. Given the rapid development of the helicopter emergency medical services, public services and offshore wind industry in the country, a potential demand for 600 light twin-engine helicopters is expected over the next two decades.