The United States is one of the world’s largest markets for civil and military aircraft, helicopters and space activities. More than just a marketplace in which to sell, the U.S. has long been a valued industrial partner to Airbus. Since 1990, Airbus has spent some $200 billion dollars with hundreds of U.S. suppliers – $48 billion in the last three years alone. That spending helps support 275,000 American jobs. That business also makes Airbus the largest export company for the U.S. aerospace industry.
Airbus directly employs more than 3,200 people across the U.S. at a growing network of businesses and facilities. Among them are two assembly lines that produce “made-in-America” commercial airliners as well as helicopters for both military and civilian customers; two engineering centers; and an aircraft spares facility that stocks nearly all the proprietary hardware used on Airbus aircraft. The company also has a large in-country training center for pilots, crews and maintenance personnel that operate its jetliners; and runs a subsidiary offering air traffic management products and services.
North American airlines have ordered more than 2,000 commercial aircraft for their domestic and international passenger services, along with the transport of cargo and freight. Looking to the future, it is anticipated that North American carriers will require approximately 5,600 additional jetliners aircraft in the coming decades.
In meeting this demand and further strengthening its global industrial network, Airbus opened its first commercial aircraft production site in the United States in 2015. The U.S. Manufacturing Facility, in Mobile, Alabama, produces A319s, A320s and A321s.
The $600-million, 53 acre site, is on track to produce between 40 and 50 single-aisle aircraft per year – playing an important role in strengthening the overall U.S. aerospace industry.
Also in Mobile is the Airbus Engineering Center, which officially opened in 2007. This operation is responsible for various interior elements of Airbus’ A350XWB, A380 and A330-200 widebody aircraft.
Airbus’ first U.S. design and engineering center opened in Wichita, Kansas in 2002. Based at Wichita State University’s Innovation Campus, engineers at Wichita’s Airbus Engineering Center support ongoing activity for the company’s single-aisle and widebody jetliners, including significant design work on the A350 XWB.
Airbus Training Center in Miami, Florida offers a range of full-flight simulators and computer-based training programs, hosting each year some 1500 air crew members from Airbus customer airlines. Based at a separate facility in Miami is Airbus’ Latin America and Caribbean sales and marketing teams.
Airbus Americas, Inc. headquarters is located in Herndon, Virginia, where some 200 people work in sales, marketing, communications, procurement and service for Airbus commercial customers in the U.S. and Canada. In Ashburn, Virginia, Satair (formerly Airbus Spares Center) ships aircraft parts, tools and sections to customers in the Americas 24 hours a day, sourcing from a $200 million inventory of some 70,000 part numbers.
Near the Virginia facilities are the Washington, D.C. offices of Airbus. Airbus Americas’ Safety and Technical Affairs and Government Relations departments are co-located there, both liaising directly with U.S. federal organizations and agencies. Also in Washington is the Airbus Experience Center. Opened in 2016, the facility is a collection of interactive, multimedia exhibits highlighting the extensive role Airbus holds in the U.S. aerospace and defense industries.
The roots of Airbus’ helicopter division in the United States date back to 1969. Today, Airbus leads the U.S. civil rotary-wing aircraft market and manufactures the best-selling civil helicopter in the country. The company’s rotorcraft division headquarters is in Grand Prairie, Texas.
Airbus products are the top sellers in air medical transport, law enforcement, aerial tourism and VIP/corporate market segments. Airbus has produced more than 400 UH-72A Lakota helicopters for the U.S. Army, all of them delivered on time, on budget and meeting demanding military quality requirements. The company also has an excellent record of meeting the Army’s logistics requirements for the Lakota. The U.S. Coast Guard operates a fleet of 100 MH-65 Dolphin helicopters for search-and-rescue missions, all supported by the Grand Prairie engineering and logistics teams.
The Airbus facility in Grand Prairie includes 31,000 square meters of offices, maintenance and repair shops, a delivery center and a state-of-the-art training center with classrooms and full-motion simulators. The site also performs aircraft assembly and customization, flight testing, and extensive maintenance, repair and overhaul (MRO) capabilities for dynamic components, rotor blades and major airframe repair.
The Texas facility also performs avionics repairs for Airbus commercial aircraft. The facility has U.S. Federal Aviation Administration certification as an Organization Designation Authorization for performing specific modifications and repairs. Airbus also operates an 84,000 square-foot logistics center at Dallas-Fort Worth International Airport, supplying spare parts and components to customers in North America and globally 24-7.
Additionally, Airbus operates a helicopter production facility in Columbus, Mississippi. The 30,000-square-meter facility contains final assembly lines for the UH-72A Lakota and the H125 single-engine civil helicopter, a multi-mission workhorse commonly used for airborne law enforcement, air medical transport services and utility operations.
The Columbus plant also handles the assembly and customization of other Airbus rotorcraft types and manufactures components for use on other new-production helicopters.
Airbus is the principal helicopter provider to many federal, state and local law enforcement and homeland security agencies in the U.S. These include U.S. Customs and Border Protection, U.S. Coast Guard, California Highway Patrol, the Texas Department of Public Safety, Los Angeles Police Department and Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Office.
Airbus Defence and Space, Inc. offers a broad array of advanced solutions to meet U.S. and Canadian military and commercial requirements, including fixed- and rotary-wing aircraft, homeland security systems, public safety communications, defense electronics and avionics, threat detection and space systems.
The U.S. Army, which is the world’s largest single operator of rotorcraft, has become a major Airbus customer, acquiring the twin-engine UH-72A Lakota (based on Airbus’ multi-role H165) as the service’s light-utility multi-mission helicopter.
All UH-72A Lakotas are manufactured at a purpose-built production facility in Columbus, Mississippi that includes the Lakota assembly line, flight line, paint shop, warehouse, administrative offices, flight operations and flight test engineering. As of 2017, Airbus had delivered 400-plus “made in America” UH-72A Lakotas, all on time and on budget. The potential total program life-cycle value of the Lakota program is more than $2.5 billion.
In addition to the UH-72A’s deployment by U.S. Army and Army National Guard units for border security, surveillance/reconnaissance, medical evacuations, VIP transport and disaster response, the Lakota is utilized by the U.S. Naval Test Pilot School for training and qualification.
Another important rotorcraft for the protection of the United States is the twin-engine Airbus HH-65 Dolphin. Approximately 100 HH-65s are in the U.S. Coast Guard’s fleet where they are utilized for homeland security missions – assigned to coastal locations throughout the U.S.
Also for the U.S. Coast Guard, Airbus has supplied 18 HC-144A Ocean Sentry maritime patrol aircraft, which are derived from the company’s CN235 twin-engine multi-role tactical transport. In September 2017, the HC-144A fleet surpassed 100,000 flight hours in U.S. Coast Guard service, performing thousands of search, rescue and law enforcement missions (including drug interdiction), and contributing to post-hurricane disaster response efforts.
Among the Ocean Sentry’s base locations is the U.S. Coast Guard’s Aviation Training Center and air station at Mobile Regional Airport in Alabama, where Airbus also has a facility for maintenance, repair, overhaul services, as well as professional engineering and technical support of its military aircraft.
Airbus is recognized as a world leader in satellite-delivered geo-information. Its access to Earth observation satellite imagery – including company-built spacecraft in orbit – combine with decades of experience in one organization, enabling Airbus to provide premium satellite imagery, products and services. The U.S. Air Force has acquired five Eagle Vision systems – Airbus’ commercial, off-the-shelf deployable ground station that receives non-classified satellite imagery. The system meets requirements ranging from mission planning and predictive battle space awareness to determining air mobility requirements at airfields and the assessment of natural disaster areas.
The expertise of Airbus in space exploration also makes it a valuable partner for the United States. On the James Webb Space Telescope – which will become the U.S. National Aeronautics and Space Administration’s (NASA) premier orbital observatory – Airbus is providing the Near Infrared Spectrograph instrument capable of detecting the faintest radiation from distant galaxies. This massive telescope will be orbited by an Ariane 5, the European launch vehicle built under the responsibility of production prime contractor ArianeGroup (a joint venture of Airbus and France’s Safran).
Airbus is applying its in-orbit operational expertise for the service module that is to equip NASA’s human-rated Orion Multi-Purpose Crew Vehicle. The service module will support astronaut crews, handling duties for propulsion while also providing the water and oxygen needed for a habitable environment, along with storing electrical power and maintaining the temperature of the vehicle's systems and components.
Airbus continues to grow its business network in the United States, focusing on innovation and disruptive technologies.
Airbus Americas subsidiary Metron Aviation, based in Ashburn, Virginia, provides advanced Air Traffic Management production and services to the global aviation industry.
In March 2017, OneWeb Satellites’ broke ground on a high-volume satellite manufacturing facility at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida. OneWeb Satellites is a joint venture between OneWeb, a satellite-based global network provider and Airbus Defence and Space, along with the world’s second largest space company. The ambitious goal of the project is to fully bridge the ‘digital divide’ by 2027, making internet access available and affordable for everyone.
Airbus Aerial in Atlanta, Georgia was launched in May 2017 as a drone services start-up. The company unites small drone technology, high-altitude unmanned aircraft satellite infrastructure and analytics software to help commercial customers solve a range of problems.
A3 (“A Cubed”) in Silicon Valley, California was launched in 2015 to disrupt Airbus and the industry. The business currently offers three primary products: Vahana is a vertical take-off and landing (VTOL) vehicle; Voom is an on-demand helicopter service for urban areas; and Transpose is a modularized aircraft cabin system design to minimize cost and transition time when refreshing commercial aircraft interiors.