Airbus’ increasingly important presence in Singapore represents its commitment to top-level services, support and industrial partnerships throughout Asia-Pacific – a region that represents approximately one-third of all Airbus orders worldwide, and a similar percentage of aircraft to be delivered in the future.
A highly visible example is the Satair Airbus Singapore Centre, which functions as the primary spare parts hub to help Asia-Pacific region airline operators keep their aircraft flying. Providing around-the-clock support from a modern 16,700-square-metre facility at Singapore’s Seletar Aerospace Park, this centre has a stock of some 22,000 Airbus proprietary parts.
Training also is an important service provided to Airbus operators, and the upcoming opening of the Airbus Asia Training Centre (AATC) will offer type rating and recurrent training courses for all in-production Airbus aircraft types. When fully operational at its Seletar Aerospace Park location, this Airbus/Singapore Airlines joint venture will include eight full-flight simulators (three for the A350 XWB, one A380, two A330s and two A320s), along with extensive classroom facilities that can serve more than 10,000 trainees per year.
Prior to the inauguration of ATTC’s new 9,250-square-metre facility, the organisation has been operating at the Singapore Airlines Training Centre near Changi Airport, conducting classroom courses and utilising one flight simulator each for the A380 and A350 XWB, along with two for the A330.
Aircraft freighter conversions and components for Airbus’ jetliner families
Industrial partnerships include the teaming of Airbus, Singapore-based ST Aerospace and Germany’s EFW for passenger-to-freighter (P2F) conversion solutions for both the A330 and A320 series. By modifying jetliners that have completed their useful lives in passenger service, such converted aircraft will meet anticipated demand in the evolving freighter segment.
Looking beyond Singapore, Airbus has created industrial partnerships throughout Asia-Pacific, working with manufacturers in countries such as China, Japan, South Korea and Malaysia for the supply of parts used in the company’s various aircraft programmes.
Working with China, Airbus arranged to have five per cent of the A350 XWB’s airframe manufactured in the country. This resulted in a Joint Venture Manufacturing Centre involving Airbus and a group of Chinese industrial partners in Harbin, China for the production of composite material parts and components.
In Beijing, Airbus established its Airbus Beijing Engineering Centre at the Tianzhu Airport Industrial Zone, performing specific design work related to the A350 XWB airframe production to be performed in China. Additionally, this centre is involved with other Airbus aircraft types, covering both the single-aisle A320 Family and widebody jetliner programmes.
From A320 final assembly to production of composite and metallic parts
The highest-profile cooperation in China is the A320 Family final assembly line at Tianjin, which has delivered more than 230 jetliners to date and is continuing its activity at a current production rate of four aircraft per month. Expanding on this, Airbus and its Chinese partners – namely the Tianjin Free Trade Zone Investment Company Ltd. (TJFTZ) and the Aviation Industry Corporation of China (AVIC) – have signed a framework agreement for an A330 completion and delivery centre in Tianjin, which takes into account the need for larger aircraft in meeting the fast growth of air traffic in China.
Elsewhere, South Korea’s Korean Air Aerospace Division is one of two global suppliers for Airbus-designed fuel-saving Sharklets wingtip devices on the A320neo and A330neo new engine option jetliners. The company also produces fuselage skin panels and floor assemblies for the A330, along with all-composite cargo doors for the A350 XWB.
Korean Aerospace Industries is a supplier of machined parts and metallic structures, with its production spanning all Airbus programmes – including A320 Family fuselage upper shells, A380 wing bottom panels, machined ribs and stringers for A330 wings, along with the jetliner’s nose landing gear bay and machined aluminium-lithium wing ribs for the A350 XWB.
Malaysia has become an important source of composite materials competence, and Airbus’ relationships with the country include CTRM, which has become a major supplier of composite structures – ranging from wing components for the A320 Family, A350 XWB and A380 to items for the A400M military transporter. One of Airbus’ earliest industrial partners in Malaysia is SME Aerospace, which manufactures wing components for A320 and A330 Family aircraft, while Spirit Aerosystems Malaysia assembles various wing components for the A320 Family and A350 XWB.
Expanding the relationships to additional countries
Airbus continues to seek out industrial opportunities in Asia, as underscored by its awarding of the first aerostructure manufacturing package in Vietnam to Hanoi-based Nikkiso Vietnam, involving the production of composite spars and panels for A320 Sharklets.
The first Airbus industrial partnership with Taiwan is the selection of this country’s Aerospace Industrial Development Corporation (AIDC) as a tier-one supplier for A320 Family composite aft belly fairings, to be supplied by the Taiwan Advanced Composite Center-19 beginning in the second quarter of 2016.