Airbus starts building helicopter plant in China
Airbus Group's helicopter manufacturing arm on Saturday began construction of its first assembly line for commercial aircraft in China.
The plant, located in Qingdao city in Shandong province, will be jointly operated by Airbus Helicopters and Qingdao United General Aviation Company, Xinhua news agency reported.
The plant will be completed in 2018 and is designed to produce 18 H135 helicopters a year, but capacity could be further raised according to demand, company sources said. The first machine is likely to be rolled out in 2019.
Airbus Helicopters CEO Guillaume Faury said the assembly line demonstrated a commitment to cooperation with China's rapidly growing aviation industry.
The H135 is a light helicopter popular in China, mainly used in medical aid, rescue, police surveillance, fire fighting and tourism.
In 2016, China emerged as the largest civil helicopter market for Airbus Helicopters, thanks to the opening of low-altitude airspace that stimulated a boom in demand.
According to estimates, China will require about 600 light helicopters in the next 20 years.