In 2015, Mobile, Alabama became home to Airbus’ first U.S.-based commercial aircraft manufacturing facility. Now celebrating five years of production, it 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. To date, the factory has delivered more than 180 A320 Family aircraft to eight customers; aircraft which have subsequently flown 60 million passengers 500 million miles.
For Airbus, commercial aircraft production in Mobile signified two things: its position as a truly global aircraft company, and also that it was a truly American manufacturer. With the addition of this brand new U.S. operation to the company’s A320 production network in Europe and Asia, Airbus had strategically augmented its worldwide industrial base in America – the largest single-aisle aircraft market in the world – to be closer to its U.S.-based customers and key supplier partners.
“When we announced our intent to build A320 Family aircraft in the United States, and to locate that facility in Mobile, Alabama, we also stated our intent to be a good neighbour, to create jobs and opportunities, and to help strengthen the U.S. aerospace industry. Five years later, we have become a major economic driver in creating an aerospace hub on the Gulf Coast,”
C. Jeffrey Knittel, President and CEO of Airbus Americas
Enter the A220 Family
The journey of Airbus’ investment in Mobile took a major stride in October 2017 when it announced the decision to introduce a second aircraft programme to the site: the A220 Family, entailing a second assembly line to be built adjacent to the original A320 plant – which would also complement the A220’s primary production site in Mirabel, Quebec, Canada. The arrival into the U.S. of this newest single-aisle family member was an important testament to the confidence that Airbus had in Mobile, and the confidence in the team there to make it happen. Fast-forward to the present, and the first U.S.-built A220 already is in its final stages of manufacture for Delta Air Lines – which will roll-out in the very near future.
Prior to the introduction of the A220 and expansion of the A320 facilities, the Mobile site sat on 116 acres. Today Airbus has added another 70 acres of real-estate which accommodates: two new final phase/flight-line hangars (four bays); an enlarged delivery centre with four new aircraft parking spaces; a ‘pre-transshipment’ hangar and of course the new ‘flow-line’ final assembly line (FAL) building itself. Notably, the delivery centre will be named after one of the company’s former leaders, Tom Enders – who supported and drove the establishment of a new Airbus aircraft factory in the U.S. during his tenure as CEO of Airbus.
Doubling local industrial footprint in five years
When complete, nearly U.S.$1 billion will have been invested in Mobile – to create new state-of-the-art facilities designed and built primarily by local companies. In short, Airbus has doubled its footprint there in just five years – establishing a new manufacturing home for Airbus’ single-aisle family. Moreover, a recent study* concluded that Airbus’ total economic impact throughout the state of Alabama in five years was U.S.$1.2 billion, supporting more than 15,000 jobs through construction and payroll.
Knittel concludes: “The achievements of the Airbus U.S. manufacturing team over these past five years are just the beginning. We are proud to call Mobile our American aircraft manufacturing home, and we look forward to many more years of partnership with the community, our customers and suppliers.”
* Study by the University of South Alabama Center for Real Estate & Economic Development.