On October 20th, Air China took delivery of its 20th Airbus A350-900. This latest delivery brings the total number of aircraft in the fleet to 477. Since mid-2021, Airbus has been delivering its A350s via its widebody completion and delivery center (C&DC) in Tianjin, and the most recent A350 arrival was no different. Let’s look at the details of Air China’s latest A350.
About Air China’s latest Airbus A350
According to information from AIB Family Flights, the newest A350-900 to join the Air China fleet is registered B-32AL with manufacturer serial number (MSN) 504.
This aircraft was first spotted performing an engine run and taxi check on February 17th and took its first test flight on February 23rd. Interestingly, the third flight would be a ferry flight from Toulouse (TLS) to Tianjin (TSN) on March 23rd.
ADSBExchange indicates that the aircraft avoided Russian airspace as it flew from France to China. However, it’s worth noting that revenue services operated by Chinese carriers are able to overly Russia on their journeys to and from Europe (China Eastern Airlines flight MU553 from Shanghai to Paris is just one example of this.)
Additional test flights for the A350 took place in Tianjin on September 1st and October 11th before finally being delivered to Air China on October 20th.
Finished in China
So why did the aircraft head to Tianjin, China, before being officially delivered to Air China? Well, in case you were unaware, Airbus has a major facility in Tianjin – the site of its A320 Family Final Assembly Line (FAL). Located alongside this narrowbody assembly facility is the European firm’s widebody completion and delivery center.
Airbus states that this center “covers the aircraft completion activities, including cabin installation, aircraft painting and production flight test, as well as customer flight acceptance and aircraft delivery.”
Airbus adds that this facility was inaugurated in September 2017 with a focus on completing its A330 widebody. The relationship between Airbus and China was further bolstered in 2019 during the visit of French President Emmanuel Macron to China.
It was during this visit that a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) on the Further Development of Industrial Cooperation was signed in Beijing by He Lifeng, Chairman of the National Development and Reform Commission (NDRC) of China, and Guillaume Faury, Airbus Chief Executive Officer. The MoU announced the C&DC would extend its capability to A350 aircraft.
It was two years later, in 2021, that the very first A350 completed at the Tianjin C&DC was delivered to China Eastern.
The Air China widebody fleet
As already mentioned, Air China now has 477 aircraft in its fleet, with 20 of these being A350-900s. But the carrier’s collection of aircraft is incredibly diverse. Indeed, it operates 53 A330s, which are a mix of both the -200 and -300. On the Boeing-widebody front, the carrier operates the 787 and 777. Furthermore, it is one of just a handful of carriers that continues to operate the Boeing 747 – including the newer 747-8i.
Have you had the chance to fly on Air China’s Airbus A350s yet? Share your experiences by leaving a comment!
Sources: AIB Family Flights, FlightRadar24.com
- IATA/ICAO Code:
- Airline Type:
- Full Service Carrier
- Beijing Capital Airport, Beijing Daxing Airport, Chengdu Shuangliu International Airport
- Year Founded:
- Star Alliance
- Cai Jianjiang
- Airline Group:
- Air China Group