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29 June 2005
29. June 2005 Commercial Aircraft

New U.S. engineering centre to support Airbus widebody aircraft programmes


The creation of a new engineering centre in the U.S. state of Alabama will support the development of civil and military Airbus widebody aircraft.

Airbus is to expand its North America presence with a new engineering centre in the U.S. state of Alabama that will work on commercial and military derivative aircraft – including the A330, A340 and A350 jetliners, and the KC-330 advanced military tanker.

This new facility at the Brookley Industrial Complex in Mobile, Alabama, is scheduled to begin operations in 2006, with its employment growing to approximately 150 persons.

The engineering centre will be adjacent to an eventual production facility for the KC-330 tanker aircraft – which is being proposed for the modernization of the U.S. Air Force’s aging in-flight refuelling fleet. Derived from the widebody A330, the KC-330 will be equipped with a controllable boom and hose and drogue refuelling units, enabling it to service multiple U.S. Air Force, Navy, Marine Corps and allied aircraft simultaneously.

“Our new engineering centre in Mobile represents another step in Airbus’ commitment to the United States,” said T. Alan McArtor, the Chairman of Airbus North America. “It is part of our effort to provide the best tanker solution to the U.S. Air Force, and it will create a highly skilled talent pool to assist Airbus in its ongoing mission of non-stop innovation.”

Airbus plans to assign a variety of engineering tasks to the Mobile centre, including work on fuselage structures. It is to complement an existing engineering operation in Wichita, Kansas, at which approximately 200 persons are working on wing designs for the A380 and other long-range Airbus aircraft.

The Brookley Industrial Complex location for Airbus’ new Alabama engineering centre is strategically situated on the Gulf of Mexico, and already is home to various aviation manufacturing and maintenance businesses. It has sufficient area for both the Airbus engineering centre and the future KC-330 production facility, which would be built if the U.S. Air Force places an order for the tanker aircraft.

In recent international competitions, the KC-330 family of advanced tankers has been recognized as an optimal solution for meeting next-generation military tanker requirements. The U.K. government has selected the AirTanker industry grouping and its A330 MRTT (Multi-Role Tanker Transport) as the preferred bidder for its Future Strategic Tanker Aircraft requirement, while the Royal Australian Air Force signed a contract to acquire five A330 MRTTs.

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