Airbus has said it is close to an agreement with China’s Avic’s Harbin Aircraft to set up a joint composite-components plant in China. Technology transfer has been a sticking point in the negotiations from the beginning, according to Chinese media reports that the talks have been deadlocked. That issue now seems to have been overcome, following comments from the chief of Airbus’s Chinese operations, Laurence Barron, who said the talks “are ongoing normally and are nearing completion.” The degree of technology transfer in the Harbin composites plant is a crucial issue for the Chinese industry as Avic offshoot Comac draws up plans for a mainline commercial aircraft to succeed its ARJ21 regional jet project. The new aircraft will seat 130-200, meaning that it will be a standard narrow-body concept similar in size to the A320 family. The design is due to be completed next year and production should begin in 2014. Airbus is separately negotiating for Avic to do more work on the A320-family wing box by fitting equipment to the structure for t he A320-family final assembly line that has begun operations in Tianjin. Otherwise the wing boxes would have to be sent from China to Europe, fitted out and then sent back to China. Another deal currently being negotiated involves the Chinese industry building 5 per cent of the A350 wide-body aircraft of which the Harbin composites plant is supposed to build A350 parts, along with some for the A320 family. Airbus’ main competitor, Boeing, already has a joint venture composites plant with Avic, Boeing Tianjin Composites, which specialises in labour-intensive manual lay-up of non-critical structures.