Airbus Completes 1st China-Assembled Jet

BEIJING (AP) -- European jet maker Airbus says it plans to deliver its first China-assembled jetliner on Tuesday and plans to produce 10 more this year. The plane is the first Airbus assembled outside Europe.

The A320 jet was assembled in Tianjin, east of Beijing, Amelia Xu, an Airbus spokeswoman in Beijing, said Monday. The plane was to be delivered to Dragon Aviation Leasing and operated by Sichuan Airlines in southwestern China, she said.

"We are planning to deliver around 11 A320 jets this year," Xu said.

The aircraft had conducted a four-hour test flight from the Tianjin International Airport on May 18.

China's aviation market is one of the biggest and fastest-growing. Despite financial problems this year for Chinese carriers due to the global slump, suppliers say airlines are expected to need as many as 3,400 new aircraft over the next two decades.

Airbus, a unit of Paris-based EADS, announced plans in 2007 for the Airbus Final Assembly Line China, or FALC, in Tianjin. Airbus says the Tianjin plant will be able to produce four A320s a month.

Airbus holds a 51 percent stake in the plant, a joint venture between Airbus and a consortium that includes China Aviation Industry Corp., the country's biggest aircraft maker, and the Tianjin Free Trade Zone.

Associated Press researcher Bonnie Cao in Beijing contributed to this report.