QINGDAO, May 27 (Xinhua) -- Airbus Group's helicopter manufacturing arm began construction of its first assembly line for commercial aircraft in China Saturday.
The plant, located in the city of Qingdao in eastern China's Shandong Province, will be jointly operated by Airbus Helicopters and Qingdao United General Aviation Company.
The plant will be completed in 2018 and is designed to produce 18 H135 helicopters a year, but capacity could be further raised according to demand, company sources said.
The first aircraft is likely to be rolled out in 2019.
Airbus Helicopters CEO Guillaume Faury said the assembly line demonstrated a commitment to cooperation with China's rapidly growing aviation industry.
The H135 is a popular light helicopter in China, mainly used in medical aid, rescue, police surveillance, fire fighting and tourism.
In 2016, China emerged as the largest civil helicopter market for Airbus Helicopters, thanks to the opening of low-altitude airspace that stimulated a boom in demand.
According to estimates, China will require about 600 light helicopters in the next 20 years.