- Airbus assembles its hot-selling A320-family jets at a handful of factories spread around the world.
- One of those assembly plants in located in Mobile, Alabama.
- The Mobile plant builds planes for the company’s US customers including American, Delta, JetBlue, Frontier, Spirit, Allegiant, and Hawaiian Airlines.
Over the last five decades, Airbus has developed into a global aviation giant. The European consortium and Boeing now make up the duopoly that dominates the global commercial aircraft industry.
But most people are not aware of the substantial manufacturing footprint Toulouse, France-based Airbus has in the US. This includes helicopters in Mississippi and satellites in Florida.
And then there’s the crown jewel, the commercial aircraft final assembly line in Mobile, Alabama.
This is where the company produces Airbus A320-family jets for US customers such as American, Delta, Jetblue, Frontier, Spirit, Allegiant, and Hawaiian Airlines.
The Airbus A320-family of jets, which includes the A319, A320, and A321, is also assembled in Toulouse, France; Hamburg, Germany; and Tianjin, China.
The European aviation giant first made its presence felt in Mobile with the establishment of the Airbus Engineering Center in January 2007 that has since helped develop systems for the Airbus A330, A350, and A380 airliners.
Back then, there were quite a few people within the company that questioned whether a Mobile campus was really needed, Airbus Group CEO Tom Enders recounted to reporters in January. There are “no longer” any doubters, Enders added.
In January, Airbus broke ground on a second final assembly line at its Mobile complex to build the new A220 airliner. The A220, previously known as the Bombardier C Series, is currently assembled exclusively in Mirabel, Quebec, Canada.
The new Mobile A220 plant is expected to produce four planes a month, Airbus Americas CEO Jeff Knittel told reporters.
Shortly, after the groundbreaking ceremony, Business Insider got the chance to step inside the A320 plant.
Here’s a closer look at the Airbus A320-family production facility in Mobile, Alabama.
The Airbus A320 final assembly line or FAL in Airbus parlance is a 53-acre facility just a few minutes drive from downtown Mobile.
Business Insider had the chance to visit the facility as part of the groundbreaking festivities of a new Airbus A220 production line.
Our first stop was the delivery center. It’s where airlines pick up their new planes.
Here’s an unobstructed view of the delivery center.
We didn’t take delivery of any new planes. But, we did attend a press briefing with senior Airbus executives including (L to R) America’s CEO Jeff Knittel, Commercial Aeroplanes president Guillaume Faury, Group CEO Tom Enders, and A220 program boss Philippe Balducchi.
Looking out from the delivery center, we see jets bound for Delta, Spirit, and Frontier.
There’s also an Airbus A321neo awaiting some finishing touches. Soon, it will be flying for Hawaiian Airlines.
Here’s what it will look like once finished.
Other airlines to take delivery of planes from the factory include American and…
The Airbus facility also includes a paint shop and a transshipment hangar where parts are gathered before being moved onto the assembly line.
Parts of the A320-family come from factories around the world. For example, the vertical stabilizer is made in Germany.
While the forward fuselage is made in France. In addition, the wings are made in the UK while the horizontal stabilizers are made in Spain.
Here’s the assembly hangar.
The Mobile assembly plant opened for business in 2015.
In April 2016, Airbus delivered its first Mobile made aircraft, an A321ceo, to JetBlue.
The first thing you notice is just how clean and neatly organised the assembly line is.
On the wall is a rundown of US airlines that fly Airbus jets.
Another reminder this isn’t Toulouse or Hamburg.
The factory is structured to have parts enter the hangar on one end and…
…Exit as assembled aircraft on the other.
Here’s a rear fuselage that is waiting to be…
…Merged with the forward fuselage.
As the aircraft moves down the line, more and more bits are installed onto the fuselage.
Such as wings and…
… Landing gear.
On the far end, there is what looks to be an Airbus A321 bound for Delta Air Lines.
According to Airbus Americas CEO Jeff Knittel, the A320 line produces an average of four and a half planes a month.
Knittel expects production to be at five planes a month by the end of 2020.
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