On Tuesday May 19th 2020, Airbus and Mobile Alabama announced that they had started production of the first US built Airbus A220 for JetBlue. in addition to that news, they also announced the completion of their second final assembly line (FAL) on their mobile campus at Brookley Aeroplex where the first plane for JetBlue will be produced.
The new 270,000 sq. foot hangar, where both A220-100 and A220-300 aircraft can be assembled, is officially open for business after an 18-month construction project. It houses five primary assembly stations where major airframe component assemblies come together for a completed aircraft in a flowline process. Airbus actually began producing A220 aircraft in Mobile in August 2019 using space in an existing A320 Final Assembly Line hangar, and newly built support hangars. With the completion of the new hangar, the Airbus production site in Alabama has now officially doubled in size.
The A220 is the only aircraft purpose-built for the 100-150 seat market; it delivers unbeatable fuel efficiency and widebody passenger comfort in a single-aisle aircraft. The A220 brings together state-of-the-art aerodynamics, advanced materials and Pratt & Whitney’s latest-generation PW1500G geared turbofan engines to offer at least 20 percent lower fuel burn per seat compared to previous generation aircraft. The A220 offers the performance of larger single-aisle aircraft. With an order book of 642 aircraft as of end of April 2020, the A220 has all the credentials to win the lion’s share of the 100-to-150-seat aircraft market.The A220 programs headquarters are located in Mirabel, Canada where the program’s dedicated functions, including engineering expertise and support functions, are situated.
A spokesperson for Airbus also said that the planned rate of production ramp up for Mobile has not changed, and is still on track to reach four planes per month by the middle of the decade.That spokesperson did say however that the planned ramp up in production of the A220 in Mirabel, Canada, the birthplace of the A220, has been paused and will not resume until the middle of next year assuming that conditions will allow. The spokesperson also said that production and mobile will be reassessed on an ongoing basis and adjusted as needed according to market conditions.
“The team is excited to start working in their new facility and to welcome a new customer. It’s a strong endorsement from JetBlue in this challenging time,” said Paul Gaskell, president of A220 USA and Head of A220 Program in Mobile. “The expansion of our commercial aircraft production in Mobile to a second product line further solidifies Airbus’ standing as a truly global aircraft manufacturer, and confirms that Airbus is an important part of the American manufacturing landscape.This A220 assembly line will help satisfy the U.S. demand for the A220 aircraft.”
Mobile County Commissioner Jerry Carl, he was also in the July 14th runoff against former state senator Bill Hightower had this reaction to the news. “With the opening of production activities in the new Final Assembly Line hangar and the beginning of production of the first US-built A220, Airbus is continuing to put south Alabama on the map as a leader in the aerospace industry. I’m thrilled that Airbus has made the choice to continue expanding their footprint in Mobile, and it’s exciting to be part of the process.”
Bill Hightower, who is also in that same Republican Runoff in July said, “The Mobile community has some of the finest and most skilled workers in the world and Airbus’ presence is one more example of the growing aeronautic “footprint” we have in the region. Leading companies from around the world are coming to and expanding in south Alabama because they know we have the workforce, work ethic, and logistics capabilities ready to support their growth. Since before groundbreaking for Airbus, I have supported its establishment and expansion, and as south Alabama’s next congressman I will continue to fight for high value manufacturing jobs, to bring even more good paying opportunities to the Gulf Coast.”
Gina Maiola, Press Secretary for Governor Kay Ivey said, “The governor is proud to call Mobile, Alabama home to Airbus, who is a strong partner to the state. Companies like Airbus help solidify that Alabama is on the cutting edge of aerospace manufacturing, and the governor looks forward to continual production and future growth.”
The next milestone for Airbus in Mobile related to the A220 Will be in the 4th quarter of this year when they deliver the first US built A220 to Delta Airlines who was the first airline in the United States to order the plane. That order prompted a trade dispute between Boeing and Bombardier, the original maker of the A220, then known as the C-Series, That led to Airbus taking control of the program and opening the new facility in Mobile.
Request for a comment from Mayor Sandy Stimpson’s office, Senator Doug Jones’ office, representative Bradley Byrnes office, and Senator Richard Shelby’s office have not been returned as of publication.