Recaro Aircraft Seating has opened its new manufacturing plant in the Chinese coastal city of Qingdao. The new facility, which was inaugurated in late October, will cater for the local market, with Shandong Airlines announced as the first customer.
"For Recaro Aircraft Seating, the move to China is of great strategic importance," emphasised Dr. Mark Hiller, chief executive officer of Recaro Aircraft Seating. “We are starting local production in China as one of the first international aircraft seat suppliers. This means that we are now present with our own production facilities in all three major aviation markets – Asia, Europe and America."
He added: "By building this new plant in Qingdao, we are expanding our capacity to serve the Chinese market, because in the future, Asia will be the largest market for aircraft seats. Studies show that Chinese airlines alone will need about 5,000 new aircraft in the next 20 years.”
“We are very happy about this new location for the Recaro brand. China is an important market for the Recaro Group as a globally active family company. We very much admire the strength of the Chinese economy,” Martin Putsch, chief executive officer of Recaro Holding, explained at the inauguration of the plant.
The German company is one of the world's top three aircraft seat manufacturers, and operates plants in Germany, Poland, South Africa, the USA and now China. It also has service centres in Europe, the Americas, Asia and Australia and employs 1,600 worldwide.
The Recaro site in Qingdao, with a total area of about 25,000 square meters (269,000 square feet), includes a new building which houses the sales, engineering, purchasing, program management, production, quality and logistics departments.
Production is spread across about 8,000 square meters (86,000 square feet). Like the new 2012 facility in Poland and the 2013 expansion of the US facility, the production area in Qingdao was planned in accordance with state-of-the-art lean production methods and using the latest planning tools.
“In China, we are implementing the same standards of quality and the same processes of excellence that we have established through the years at Recaro’s locations around the
globe,” explained Dr. Hiller. For this reason, the new Chinese employees have already completed an extensive training program at the Recaro sites in Germany and Poland. There, they received systematic instruction and qualification in the areas of industrial engineering, quality and logistics.
Initial customer Shandong Airlines has ordered about 3,400 seats of the type BL3520-RAC for its B737 fleet, with the option to equip additional aircraft with the seats. The seat, intended for use on short- and medium-haul flights, is a special edition of the BL3520
seat for the economy class which has been adapted to meet the needs of the Chinese market.
Series production for Shandong Airlines will begin in early 2014. Additional projects are in
preparation. “We are already engaged in intense contract discussions with other Chinese airlines”, said Manfred Büchner, general manager of the new Recaro facility in China.