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Poised to reach new heights (2020)

Airbus began the new decade bolstered by the company’s strong commercial performance in 2019 – including a record-setting 863 deliveries and the logging of 1,131 new orders – as well as the continued evolution of its comprehensive aircraft product line. 

Continued global demand for A320neo

Commercial Aircraft 06 January 2020

A320neo Spirit Airlines

U.S.-based Spirit Airlines – which finalised a purchase agreement with Airbus for 100 A320neo Family aircraft – will receive a mix of A319neo, A320neo, and A321neo

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U.S.-based Spirit Airlines finalised a purchase agreement with Airbus for 100 A320neo Family aircraft, involving a mix of A319neo, A320neo, and A321neo versions.

New commercial announcements in the first month of 2020 reinforced the popularity of Airbus’ single-aisle A320neo Family.

Announced in January, Spirit Airlines finalised a purchase agreement with Airbus for 100 A320neo Family aircraft – including a mix of A319neo, A320neo and A321neo versions – to meet this U.S. operator’s future fleet requirements. Spirit is based in South Florida and is the fastest-growing airline in the United States, with flights throughout the U.S., Latin America and the Caribbean.

Later in January, Singapore-based lessor BOC Aviation Limited placed a firm order for 20 A320neo aircraft – with as many as 12 of them to be operated on lease by Colombia’s Avianca Airlines.

Expansion of production resources

Airbus A220 final assembly line in Mobile, Alabama © Tad Denson -
Commercial Aircraft 05 August 2019

Airbus A220 final assembly line in Mobile, Alabama

Airbus began manufacturing the A220 jetliner in the U.S. during 2019, led by the first team of A220 production workers who underwent on-the-job training in Mirabel, Quebec, Canada – where the A220 programme and primary final assembly line are located

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Airbus’ U.S. final assembly line (FAL) in Mobile, Alabama will increase its cadence to support the company’s overall acceleration of A320 Famly jetliners to 63 aircraft monthly in 2021.

As part of its strategy to step up – and reinforce – production resources for the best-selling A320 Family, Airbus announced two developments in January. These steps will enable Airbus to increase flexibility, while also ensuring that production capacity for the longest-fuselage A321 version meets market demand.

At the company’s U.S. Manufacturing Facility in Mobile, Alabama, Airbus will increase the A320 Family production rate to seven aircraft per month by the beginning of 2021. This increase – along with continued recruiting for the manufacturing team that supports production of the smaller single-aisle A220 jetliner at Mobile – will result in a further 275 jobs added at the Alabama-based facility during 2020.

In Europe, Airbus has decided to create new production capabilities at its site in Toulouse, France, providing more flexibility for the production of A321 versions – driven in part by the popularity of the Long Range (LR) and Xtra Long Range (XLR) derivatives. This will involve the establishment of a digitally-enabled A321 final assembly line in the Lagardère facility at Toulouse (which serves as the site for assembly of double-deck A380s).

Toulouse is home to the original A320 Family final assembly line, with aircraft built at this location in southwest France since the 1980s. In response to the A320 product line’s global success, additional final assembly lines were subsequently established by Airbus at Hamburg, Germany; Tianjin, China; and in the U.S. at Mobile, Alabama. Currently, A321 versions are built at Hamburg and Mobile. 

Bringing a “smile” to Airbus production

Commercial Aircraft 13 January 2020

BelugaXL in flight

Airbus’ BelugaXL, which entered service in January 2020, has the largest cargo bay cross-section of all existing cargo aircraft worldwide

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The BelugaXL oversize cargo airlifter is derived from Airbus’ versatile A330 widebody product line.

The BelugaXL’s service entry in January brought a significant boost to Airbus’ production network. Ultimately, six of these oversize cargo airlifters (derived from the twin-engine A330 jetliner) will operate from 11 destinations in Europe – providing additional transport capacity as they gradually replace five previous-generation Beluga ST versions (which were modified from the earlier A300 aircraft).

Managed by the Airbus Transport International (ATI) subsidiary, the BelugaXL will facilitate Airbus’ production ramp-up across its commercial aircraft programmes.

Committed to the A220

In February, Airbus and the Government of Québec became sole owners of the A220 programme as Bombardier completed its strategic exit from the commercial aviation sector.

The new agreement brought shareholdings in the Airbus Canada Limited Partnership – responsible for A220 aircraft production – to 75% for Airbus and 25% for the Government of Québec. It also underscored the partners’ continued commitment to the single-aisle programme, which includes A220-100 and A220-300 versions.

As part of the transaction, Airbus – via its wholly-owned subsidiary STELIA Aerospace –also acquired the A220 and A330 work package production capabilities from Bombardier in Saint-Laurent, Québec.

February also brought a significant A220 commercial announcement with Nigeria-based Green Africa Airways’ memorandum of understanding for 50 A220-300 aircraft – marking one of the A220 programme’s major orders to be placed globally.

Enhancing Airbus’ U.S. footprint

Mobile U.S. manufacturing site Tad Denson - Airwind, Inc.
Commercial Aircraft 25 July 2020

Mobile U.S. manufacturing site

Celebrating five years of production in September 2020, Mobile has grown from an initial workforce of around 250 staff producing A320 Family aircraft, to 1,000 employees building both the A220 and A320 aircraft families

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The Airbus U.S. Manufacturing Facility underscores the company’s position as a truly global aircraft company.

In May, the A220 programme gained further momentum with inauguration of this aircraft’s 270,000-square-foot production facility at the company’s U.S. industrial site. Located at Mobile, Alabama, the new final assembly line can build both A220-100 and A220-300 versions of Airbus’ newest addition to its single-aisle product line.    

The Mobile industrial location – which officially is called the Airbus U.S. Manufacturing Facility – became the A220’s second assembly site, complementing the primary assembly facility and programme headquarters located in Mirabel, Canada. 

With this inauguration, Airbus’ production “footprint” in the U.S. state of Alabama officially doubled in size, expanding the Airbus U.S. Manufacturing Facility, which has been building A320 Family aircraft since 2015.

Airbus celebrated five years of production at Mobile in September. During this period, the facility has grown from an initial workforce of around 250 staff. With the Airbus U.S. Manufacturing Facility, Airbus has become a major economic driver in creating an aerospace hub on the U.S. Gulf – injecting some $1.2 billion into the economy and supporting more than 15,000 jobs overall.

A330-800: certified for flight

Commercial Aircraft 13 February 2020

A330-800 in flight

Incorporating new Rolls-Royce Trent 7000 engines, the A330-800 is the most efficient, longest-range entry-level widebody aircraft

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The A330-800 delivers a 25% reduction in fuel consumption compared to older-generation competitor aircraft of similar size.

Airbus’ A330-800 – the most efficient and longest-range entry-level widebody aircraft in the world – received joint Type Certification from the European Aviation Safety Agency (EASA) and the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) in February.

This achievement came after the conclusion of a rigorous test programme that involved 370 flight hours in total. Certified initially with a maximum take-off weight (MTOW) of 242 tonnes for a range capability of up to 7,500 nautical miles, the A330-800 will typically seat 220 to 260 passengers in three classes, or up to 406 travellers in a single-class high-density configuration.

The A330-800 is part of Airbus’ new-generation A330neo family.

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