LONDON – Boeing delivered its first aircraft from the brand-new completion center in Zhoushan, China—a joint venture between Boeing and Commercial Aircraft Corporation of China, Ltd (COMAC). The first plane to be delivered from the centre is a Boeing 737 MAX for Air China.

The 737s will still be assembled a Boeing’s Renton facility. From now on, some of the 737 MAXs destined for Chinese airlines will be ferried from Seattle to Zhoushan, where the aircraft will have the interiors fitted. The facility’s operational capabilities will be gradually expanded upon over time, with three aircraft paint hangars eventually coming online.

It has taken 20 months of construction of the 100-acre site for the first 737 to be delivered. The new facility is the first of its kind for Boeing outside of the United States.

The completion center has been built to accommodate all variants of the 737 MAX family, from the MAX 7 to the MAX 10.

The new facility will enable Boeing to accelerate its deliveries, especially to Chinese operators, which are responsible for one of every five 737s delivered today.

Kevin McAllister, Boeing Commercial Airplanes President and CEO said, “This moment signifies our growing partnership with China that stretches back over nearly half a century. We’re proud of our long relationship with the Chinese government, airlines and industry partners and the trust they place in Boeing.”

Zhao Yuerang, president of COMAC congratulated Boeing for delivering the first 737 MAX from Zhoushan. “This is a significant milestone of Boeing’s efforts to deepen its footprint in China, as well as to support the growth of China’s airline industry, opening an era of the collaboration between the two aeroplane manufacturers of us,” he said.

China is currently on track to become the largest commercial aviation market in the world. Over the next 20 years, the Asian country will need more than 7,680 new planes, worth $1.2 trillion USD, according to Boeing’s latest market forecast.