BEIJING (AFP) – Airbus has begun building its first helicopter assembly plant in China, and the European planemaker plans to produce 18 machines a year there in hopes the country will soon open up its low-altitude airspace.
China currently has a shortage of civilian helicopters for emergency medical purposes and other uses due to the military’s tight control over the nation’s airspace.
Airbus Helicopters plans to complete its plant in the eastern port city of Qingdao at the end of next year. The first helicopter is scheduled to be delivered in mid-2019, its president Guillaume Faury told reporters during the laying of the foundation stone on Saturday.
The plant will be the first by a foreign helicopter manufacturer on Chinese soil, he said. It will be jointly operated by Airbus Helicopters and Qingdao United General Aviation Company.
Airbus also has an aircraft assembly plant in the northeastern city of Tianjin, which it opened in 2008.
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