French Airbus has kicked off construction of a helicopter assembling factory in the eastern port city of Qingdao, Shandong Province which is expected to be completed by the end of 2018. The factory will be run by Airbus Helicopters and Qingdao Helicopter Aviation Company.
Airbus President Guillaume Faury said on May 27 that the first helicopter would be produced by mid-2019, and that with the production capacity of the assembling line, the factory can make 18 H135s every year.
China is lacking civilian helicopters for emergency medical and other services because of tight military control over national airspace.
Prior to that, the US-based Boeing in March 2017 also started construction of a Boeing 737 aircraft completion facility with total capacity of 100 units per year in Choshan City of Choshan City, Zhejiang Province. The first product is expected to be delivered to customers in 2018.
Meanwhile, a factory 287 kilometers southeast of Shanghai provides coating, repair and maintenance of Boeing aircraft.
With such moves taken by Airbus and Boeing, Vietnam seems to have lost the opportunity of being chosen by the two big aircraft manufacturers to open aircraft component factories.
Local newspapers two years ago reported that Airbus Group wrote to the Vietnamese Government expressing its interest in establishing a new aircraft components factory in Vietnam. The facility would produce electrical safety belts for Airbus A320 aircraft.
Bui Ngoc Son, an economist from the Institute for the World Economic and Political Research Institute, said that Vietnam cannot manufacture simple spare parts, let alone aircraft components. The distance between the dream and reality of an aircraft industry in Vietnam is wide, experts say.
Son, commenting on the news that Vietnam can make flaps for Boeing 737, said an aircraft includes thousands of accessories, and the flap is just one.
“The production of flaps, of course, is good news for Vietnam. However, the production of the part doesn’t require high technology. The design is also carried out by the foreign partner,” he said.
“Vietnam should not cherish an unrealistic dream when it still has to import simple products such as air conditioners and refrigerators," he added.
In related news, the national flag carrier Vietnam Airlines received the 11th Boeing 787-9 Dreamliner, the last of its 787-9 Dreamliner order with Boeing, on May 6, at Noi Bai International Airport.