Airbus to sign deal with China for A350 composite

MADRID Thu Jan 29, 2009 2:19pm EST

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MADRID Jan 29 (Reuters) - European Aerospace Group EADS EAD.PA will sign a deal with Chinese firm Avicopter on Friday to build a factory producing carbon-fiber composite for its new A350 jetliner, the Spanish government said.

The joint venture agreement to build a plant in the Chinese city of Harbin will be signed during a visit to Spain by Chinese Prime Minister Wen Jiabao. Spain has a 5 percent stake in EADS, which owns plane maker Airbus.

The A350 will be 53 percent carbon-fiber composite -- a material lighter than aluminum, which is the conventional material used to make a plane's wings and fuselage. That allows designers to increase the number of passengers for the same fuel load.

Friday's formal signing follows the signing of a memorandum of understanding (MoU) between Airbus and China to build 5 percent of the A350's airframe in China and a subsequent agreement to establish a composite factory in Harbin.

China has already signed a deal to locate a final assembly line for Airbus' A320 in the Chinese city of Tianjin.

An Airbus spokesman declined to give further details.

Earlier this month Airbus vowed it would break free of a string of damaging aircraft production delays as it began construction of a factory for the 10 billion euro ($13.08 billion) A350 project -- Airbus' response to Boeing Co's (BA.N) 787 Dreamliner. ($1=.7645 Euro) (Reporting by Ben Harding, editing by Gerald E. McCormick)

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