Construction will commence by the end of this month on a Boeing aircraft assembly project in Zhoushan, East China's Zhejiang Province, with experts calling it an excellent start to the development of the aviation manufacturing sector in the city.
“The Boeing 737 Max project will start at the end of March, with the first aircraft expected to be finished by the end of 2018. Annual production is set to reach 100,” Rong Qiyue, the person in charge of the construction of the Zhoushan aviation industrial park, told a press conference on Friday in Zhoushan, local news portal zjnew.com.cn reported.
The park will have two zones -- one for aircraft assembly in Zhujiajian and one for component production in the economic development zone of northern Zhoushan, according to Rong.
The project is being carried out by a joint venture of Boeing and Commercial Aircraft Corp of China (COMAC).
The joint venture will undertake the installment of interiors, painting and maintenance of the Boeing 737 Max series, delivery and other services.
The Boeing-COMAC center will deliver 100 aircraft annually, creating more than 2,000 jobs when it is operating at full capacity, Rong noted.
Boeing said that Zhoushan was chosen as the site for its first overseas Boeing 737 completion and delivery center because of growing demand for single-aisle aircraft in China. The company said nearly one-third of its Boeing 737 deliveries each year go to China.
“China is not only the biggest client for the Boeing 737, it is also an important partner for the Boeing 737 project,” Darren Hulst, Boeing Commercial Airplane's managing director of marketing for Northeast Asia, said in a press briefing in March in Beijing.
The company is creating up to five Max versions and planning to increase output to 57 aircraft a month in 2019. The first Max model in current production is its well-known Max-8, Reuters reported in February.
The Max 8 project will deliver its first jet around the second quarter of this year. The Boeing 737 series in all its configurations has received more than 3,600 orders from more than 80 customers across the world so far, Hulst noted.
The Boeing project is bringing substantial benefits to the local aircraft manufacturing industry, said Li Bing, financial director of Shanghai Juneyao Airlines. “It saves money on trial flights, delivery and management, creating a good foundation for the development of the Zhoushan aircraft manufacturing industry,” Li was quoted as saying on Sunday by the Zhoushan Evening Newspaper.
The Zhoushan aviation industrial park aims to create a complete industry chain by 2025, with more than 600 planes to be assembled, delivered and modified annually, according to Rong.
The industry scale will reach nearly 40,000 flying hours by 2025, and it will have annual output exceeding 70 billion yuan (.14 billion), he noted.
The Zhoushan aviation cluster will create hundreds of billions of yuan in value, becoming a new pole of growth in the civil aircraft manufacturing industry, experts said.
The construction of the Boeing 737 completion and delivery center will also attract related industries to enter the aviation industrial park in Zhoushan, driving hundreds of billions yuan of production value, according to Ma Jian, secretary general of the China Center Urban Airport Economy Research, people.com.cn reported on Friday.
He said that this will also help boost the upgrading of the industry structure and spur the development of regions around Zhoushan.
“The general aviation industry will also show sound development in Zhoushan,” he said, noting the Boeing project is a representative effort. Ma predicted that the domestic general aviation industry scale would skyrocket to “thousands of billion yuan” by 2020 and around 200 aviation industrial parks will emerge.