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Airbus’ Chinese Dream

  One of the important achievements of French President Macron’s visit to China is that the European Airbus company led by France will build the second Airbus aircraft assembly line in Tianjin; at the same time, China Aviation Materials Corporation also signed a purchase agreement with Airbus for 160 Airbus aircraft. Including 150 A320 series and 10 A350. In China, the world’s fastest-growing civil aviation market, Airbus is once again leading the way.
  The cooperation between Airbus and China is a model of practical cooperation between China and France and China and Europe, and also a model for the world’s leading companies to achieve rapid development in China and further enhance their own competitiveness. Although the first Airbus aircraft purchased by China arrived in China 12 years later than the first Boeing aircraft, for quite a long time, it has been the Chinese dream of Airbus to strive to compete equally with Boeing in the Chinese market. In the past four years, Airbus has surpassed Boeing in a row. By the end of last year, the Airbus fleet in mainland China had reached 2,123, accounting for 54% of the market share. As a result, Airbus has become the world’s largest civil aircraft manufacturer for four consecutive years. Last year, it delivered 661 passenger aircraft and received 1,078 new orders; Boeing delivered 480 aircraft during the same period and received 774 new orders.
  Pragmatic cooperation is the fundamental factor for Airbus to realize its dream in China. Due to its late entry into China, Airbus has lagged behind Boeing in terms of share for a long time, but the pace of cooperation with China has become more solid. Airbus took the lead in building the first final assembly line outside Europe in Tianjin in 2008 for the final assembly of A320 series aircraft. It was adapted and upgraded in August last year, and has the production and delivery capacity of A321 aircraft. Currently, it can produce 6 aircraft per month. In 15 years, more than 600 aircraft have been assembled, accounting for 30% of China’s existing Airbus fleet. The second final assembly line construction agreement signed on April 6 will double Tianjin’s final assembly capacity by the end of 2025 and reach one-fifth of Airbus’ overall final assembly capacity. This will not only benefit Airbus’ development in China, but also reflect the This testifies to Airbus’ sincerity towards the Chinese market.
  The success of Airbus also benefits from a slight advantage in product competition. Because of the same level of aircraft, the A320 was born nearly 20 years later than the B737, and the A350 was born five or six years later than the B787. Airbus can learn from it and develop, so the same level of aircraft is about 20 centimeters wider than Boeing. Although the technical level is similar to that of the generation passenger aircraft, the 20 cm increase will greatly improve the comfort and reputation of passengers, making airlines more willing to choose models that are more satisfactory to passengers. Especially when the engine is being upgraded, the larger A320 can be easily replaced with a thicker and larger LEAP engine, while the B737 has to work harder on the software, resulting in many major accidents and bringing Boeing’s losses. bleak moment.
  It has to be said that sometimes some whimsical innovations will bring unexpected surprises. The appearance of Airbus 321XLR is the “pie” of icing on the cake. When signing the agreement for the second final assembly line in Tianjin, Airbus CEO Fu Li said something that many people may not have noticed. This is what Fu Li said: “The second line will also have the production capacity of A320 and A321. At that time, 70% of the models on the Tianjin assembly line will be A321 aircraft.” There is a big mystery in this seemingly ordinary passage.
  The 321 is an extended version of the 320. It can carry about 30 more passengers and fly about 1,000 kilometers more. It has not sold well in the past. Because the 320-class 150-seat class and the 5,000-kilometer voyage are the golden match for short- and medium-haul routes, and the marginal effect is not strong if the passenger-seat voyage is slightly increased. But why will 70% of the models in Tianjin be 321? This is because the 321XLR appeared and brought about revolutionary changes.
  Generally, medium and long-distance routes are 8,000-10,000 kilometers, and usually only wide-body aircraft with larger fuel capacity can be used to fly. The cost per seat kilometer of wide-body aircraft is about 1.5 times that of narrow-body aircraft. With the continuous improvement of engine performance, it is possible to fly longer distances with less fuel consumption. Some people think that if the 321 is further increased in range, can it be used to obtain wide-body aircraft capabilities at the cost of narrow-body aircraft? The resulting change in operating mode will benefit a lot. What came into being is A321XLR.
  In June 2022, the first ultra-long-range narrow-body aircraft A321XLR made its maiden flight at Hamburg Finkenveld Airport in Germany. It took a total of 4 hours and 35 minutes to fly, and everything went smoothly. This type of aircraft is designed to carry 180-200 passengers and has a range of 8,700 kilometers, covering most of the needs of medium and long-distance routes. It is expected to obtain certification this year. After the advent of the A321XLR, it will be possible to use the lower cost of a narrow-body aircraft to obtain the medium- and long-range flight capabilities of a wide-body airliner, expanding a huge space for development. From eastern China, you can easily reach Moscow, Central Asia and the Middle East; from central and western China, you can go directly to all parts of Europe. 70% of the products of the two production lines in Tianjin are A321 series aircraft, which probably hides the mystery of the arrival of the era of ultra-long-range narrow-body aircraft, and there is unlimited room for imagination.
  Airbus predicts that China’s aviation market will maintain an average annual growth rate of 5.3% in the next 20 years, much higher than the global average; by 2041, the demand for passenger and cargo aircraft will reach 8,420, exceeding the total global demand by more than 20% .
  This is the prediction of Airbus, and it also reflects Airbus’ Chinese dream.

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