Boeing opens first overseas factory in China

Boeing unveiled its first overseas completion and delivery center in China after it signed an agreement with the Commercial Aircraft Corp of China (COMAC) on Tuesday.

The joint venture is located in Zhoushan, east China’s Zhejiang Province, with a registered capital of 55 million US dollars. Boeing has invested 33 million US dollars for a 60 percent share, while COMAC invested 22 million US dollars and has a 40 percent holding.

Construction of the center, which will consist of a completion center under a joint venture between Boeing and COMAC, and a delivery center owned by Boeing, got underway in early May. It will be capable of tasks including cabin installation, painting, flight testing and aircraft maintenance.

COMAC said it will participate in the completion tasks together with Boeing employees, but the proportion of workers the two sides would assign remains unknown.

An employee works on a Boeing Co 737 MAX airplane on the production line at the company’s manufacturing facility in Renton, Washington, US. /China Daily Photo

The manufacturer of the C919 large passenger jet said the project would help to broaden international cooperation between China and international players and optimize the environment for the growth of the civil aircraft industry in China.

He Dongfeng, president of COMAC, said: “Zhoushan and Seattle are located at the two sides of the Pacific Ocean. In the past, most people living in Seattle didn’t know about Zhoushan, but now they come to work here. Our completion center has linked us together.”

Boeing expects that the plant will finish first-stage construction and go into operation next May. By the end of 2018, Boeing will deliver the first single-aisle B737 MAX plane directly from Zhoushan to a domestic airline.

A Boeing 737 MAX sits outside the hangar during a media tour of the Boeing 737 MAX at the Boeing plant in Renton, Washington, US, December 8, 2015. /China Daily Photo

With a maximum annual delivery capacity of 100 planes at its center in Zhoushan, Boeing plans to deliver all the aircraft completed in Zhoushan to Chinese customers, as it strives to meet the high demand for single-aisle aircraft in China.

Lin Zhijie, an aviation industry analyst, and columnist at Carnoc.com, a leading civil aviation website portal in China, said: “One-fifth of narrow-body aircraft in the world is delivered to China. It is a huge market Boeing hopes to seize.”

He said the Airbus final assembly line in Tianjin, which became operational in 2008, has helped Airbus, the archrival of Boeing, boost its market share in China from 34 percent to 47 percent over the past decade.

“Boeing is now making more efforts by establishing its first overseas completion and delivery center in Zhoushan, to seize the strong market potential in China and strengthen its cooperation with Chinese aviation industry players,” Lin added.