Within two years’ time, Airbus Helicopters will have a final assembly line in China, at Qingdao, 370 miles (600 kilometers) south of Beijing, employing a hundred employees, the majority of whom will be Chinese.
Comparable to Donauwörth in Germany, the plant will be dedicated exclusively to the production of the H135, a light twin-engine helicopter available in civil and military versions, and capable of carrying up to seven passengers. The assembly line will be 51% owned by Airbus Helicopters, and 49% by local partners. The investment amount is confidential.
The announcement of this facility follows the purchase of 100 H135 helicopters by a Chinese consortium; a contract of 700 million euros. The first deliveries of the Chinese made aircraft are planned for late 2018. Eventually, the production rate is expected to reach 36 units per year.
This is a strategic move, because the civil helicopter market in China has been gradually opening up over the last two years. Currently, according to Airbus Helicopters, the country has 600 civilian helicopters in service, and should increase to 5,000 over the next 20 years.