Airbus announced that A320 Family aircraft production in the U.S. is on schedule to begin this summer. Large components for the first Alabama-produced aircraft departed at the end of May from the port in Hamburg, Germany, bound for Mobile and are now halfway to the Heart of Dixie.
The major component assemblies consist of the wings produced in the U.K., the rear fuselage section produced in Germany including the tail cone (produced in Spain), and the forward fuselage section, including the cockpit produced in France, all of which contain parts from all over the world. The horizontal and vertical stabilizers — from Spain and Germany, respectively — are also on board.
The first aircraft is an A321ceo destined for delivery to JetBlue in 2016.
Airbus established the manufacturing facility in Mobile to assemble and deliver A319, A320 and A321 aircraft to meet the growing needs of its customers in the United States and elsewhere. It is the company’s first U.S.-based production facility, and the fourth in the network which includes Hamburg; Toulouse, France; and Tianjin, China.
Construction began on the $600 million assembly line at Mobile Aeroplex in April 2013. The facility will employ 1,000 people at full production. In June 2014, AIDT, a division of the Alabama Department of Commerce that acts as the state job-training agency, opened a training center at the Aeroplex to help Airbus assemble its workforce.
“This is a day of celebration as we reach another important milestone in aircraft production in the U.S.,” said Airbus President and CEO Fabrice Brégier. “North America is one of the largest single-aisle aircraft markets in the world. This manufacturing facility brings us closer to our customers, and strengthens the aerospace industry in the U.S., Europe and around the world. Production will begin in just a few weeks, with first delivery scheduled for 2016.”
With Airbus launching production of A320 Family passenger jets in Mobile this summer, the capabilities of Alabama’s aviation and aircraft sector now span almost the entire industry spectrum, from research and development to final aircraft assembly, said Greg Canfield, secretary of the Alabama Department of Commerce. In the past three years, Alabama has attracted nearly $900 million in new aerospace capital investment as companies such as Boeing and Lockheed Martin expand in the state.
“Alabama has a long history in aerospace and aviation, but the future looks even brighter because of major developments like the Airbus production launch,” Canfield added. “Our aerospace and aviation sector is poised to reach new altitudes in coming years as major industry players expand their Alabama operations.”
Approximately 200 employees, including some from Mobile who are training in Hamburg, celebrated the first shipment in a ceremony held May 29 to launch the cargo ship. The U.S. Consul General in Hamburg, Nancy Corbett, was on hand for the event. Traditional songs from all four European Airbus nations and the U.S. were played as the ship — bearing German and U.S. flags, as well as the flags of the city state of Hamburg and the state of Alabama — sailed off.