The game-changing decision to create an A320 Family jetliner final assembly line in Mobile, Alabama will make Airbus the first additional manufacturer of large commercial aircraft at a U.S. facility in more than four decades.
Announcing this milestone choice in the presence of Alabama officials, airline customers, industry suppliers and Airbus employees, President & CEO Fabrice Brégier cited three primary reasons for the decision and its timing.
“First, because our customers need to cut fuel burn, cut emissions and do it fast – and we’re going to help them do it, thanks to the people of Alabama and the new A320neo aircraft, which is the bestseller in the world in this category,” he said. “Second, because sourcing the best talent for an international group is now a global challenge: and while other companies in the American aerospace business are laying off, we hired 4,000 people last year, and we’ll do the same again this year – we go where the talent is. And third, because building aircraft in Mobile will create growth and will create jobs, for Airbus and for our suppliers across America, Europe and the rest of the world.”
Answering the cheers of a standing-room only crowd at Mobile’s downtown convention center, Brégier said Airbus plans to “seize the opportunity with both hands” in bringing the production of its industry-leading A320 Family to the world’s largest market for such single-aisle jetliners – with the United States expected to retain this ranking for the next 20 years.
“Airbus indeed has European roots, but we have long since grown into a truly global company with key sites in other parts of the world. And, of course, we’re already right at home here in the U.S.A.,” he added. “In fact, U.S. suppliers helped get the very first Airbus aircraft off the ground, and today we spend almost half of our global procurement budget here – meaning that we invest more than $12 billion a year in the U.S. economy. This supports over 250,000 jobs in more than 40 states, and it, in fact, makes us the largest export customer for the American aerospace industry.”
To be located at Mobile’s Brookley Aeroplex facility, the A320 Family final assembly line is targeted to start operations in 2015 – with deliveries beginning the following year. It is anticipated that 40-50 aircraft will be produced annually at the facility by 2018, adding to the output of Airbus’ existing A320 Family final assembly lines at its Toulouse, France headquarters location; in Hamburg, Germany; and at Tianjin, China.
The investment committed by Airbus and its EADS parent company for this new U.S. production facility is estimated at approximately $600 million – creating some 1,000 jobs in the region, and its assembly flow will follow the same processes as at the other worldwide A320 Family final assembly lines.
For the U.S. operation, fully-equipped aircraft sections will be delivered by standard freight container ships, arriving at the Port of Mobile near Brookley Aeroplex. Certain U.S.-origin parts will be supplied directly to the facility, using the network of railroads and the interstate road system that serves the region.
Once the A320 Family aircraft are assembled, they will be flight tested and delivered from Mobile Downtown Airport – which is located within the Brookley Aeroplex, and has two existing runways with lengths of 9,600 ft. and 7,800 ft.
Airbus' new A320 Family final assembly line will expand a U.S. footprint that already includes the Mobile Engineering Center operation – which also is based at Brookley Aeroplex – and the Airbus Military maintenance, repair and overhaul delivery facility located at the nearby Mobile Regional Airport; along with the spares center in Ashburn, Virginia; design and engineering office in Wichita, Kansas; training center in Miami, Florida; safety & technical affairs/government relations office in Washington, D.C. and the Airbus Americas headquarters in Herndon, Virginia.
For more information, see the related online coverage from Mobile.