Monday, April 8, 2013

PHOTOS: Airbus begins construction of its game-changing A320 assembly line in the US

EADS CEO Tom Enders at the Airbus US ground-breaking ceremony
EADS CEO Tom Enders at the ground-breaking ceremony
Airbus hosted a ground-breaking ceremony in Alabama today, with construction beginning on the company’s brand new A320 assembly line… its first US-based production facility.

More than 1,000 people attended the event, including many EADS and other Airbus executives, state and national dignitaries, industry officials and the local community.

Located at Mobile Brookley Aeroplex, major construction of the facility will commence this summer and aircraft assembly is scheduled to begin in 2015, with first delivery of a Mobile-assembled aircraft in 2016.

At full production, the assembly line and associated facilities would produce up to four aircraft a month which directly translates into employing as many as 1,000 high-skilled workers.

I've included a photo from the ground-breaking ceremony on this page and you'll find more on my Facebook page - click here to view the album, Also, to celebrate the milestone, check out this blog post: Clever animation shows Airbus A320neo aircraft in flight

“Building an A320 Family Assembly Line in Mobile is truly ground-breaking for Airbus,” commented Airbus President and CEO Fabrice Brégier at the event. Yes that’s right, he played on words to describe the ground-breaking as ground-breaking… top marks.

“Our customers need more aircraft that cut fuel burn, emissions and operating costs. With this assembly line we will be able to meet our customers’ needs at their doorstep, in addition to the worldwide demand for these efficient aircraft,” he added.

The building will facilitate assembly of A319, A320 and A321 aircraft. Following its opening, Airbus will be the only company to assemble aircraft in Asia, the Americas and Europe.


Airbus already has a strong presence in Alabama and throughout the United States. In Alabama, the company operates an Engineering Centre in Mobile – also located at Brookley Aeroplex – which employs more than 200 engineers and support staff.

In addition, Airbus’ operates an even larger Engineering Centre in Wichita, Kansas, an aircraft Spares Centre in Ashburn, Virginia; a Training Centre in Miami, Florida, and a regulatory and government liaison office in Washington, D.C.

The company’s headquarters for the Americas is located in Herndon, Virginia.  Airbus’ U.S.-based air traffic management subsidiary, Metron Aviation, is located in Chantilly, Virginia.  All together, Airbus’ U.S. facilities employ more than 1,000 people.


  1. I know having Airbus in AL, will mean jobs, at least for a few people. But on the other side of the coin, Airbus is Boeing's #1 competitor. Having the European aircraft manufacturer, in the "backyard," of Boeing, must be unnerving at best. 

  2. This may be great news for Airbus and certainly the skilled workers of Alabama. One still has to ask - we have - and we've not been answered, how much Tax Revenue Alabama and the local community gave up - (literally flushed into an Airbus toilet that does not work) to site this plant in their state. Although it is a done-deal, there are questions... Will Airbus pay market wages to the "1,000 workers," of import their leadership and locally employ only local, sub-market, non-represented 'common labor,' to build their 320 series airplanes? We don't know, we have no real assurances and we won't know - until 2016 or so when the first airframe roll off the line.
    Why did Airbus build this plant? Tax and investment dodges that give them (they hope) a slight cost advantage over the local product, ahem, Boeing's 737 series. Boeing has sold the majority of the huge fleet to overseas clients and that will continue. Have they built plants in other countries, just to attract the local business? No. Every 737, some 7500 of them and more, fly from Renton, WA, (USA) on their first flight.
    Yes, 1,000 jobs in Alabama is a good thing. I still have to wonder though... by 2015 when they start assembling Airbus 'kits,' how many of those 1,000 workers will be thoroughly qualified Alabamans - or have even regional roots. And how much will they be paid? We know that Airbus sited there for low labor costs, but do we really want the lowest paid airframe builder employee building aircraft for the U.S. Market. Do we fully trust the FAA's inspection processes? Do we trust the Alabama leaders that brokered this unusual deal? Do we trust the end employers (mostly contractors, not Airbus itself) to pay those 1,000 workers fairly - or to train them when necessary? I cannot answer those questions, but I think they deserve good and complete answers. Airbus darn sure did NOT build their new factory in Alabama because the state has an overstock of highly experienced aerospace manufacturing workers. So why is the Airbus plant located in Alabama? I wonder if it has anything to do with labor laws. I wonder if Alabama has a few hundred thousand otherwise loyal, but inexperienced workers available, workers who are perhaps very likely to accept wages of perhaps 35% of those paid to aerospace workers in -oh let's say Seattle and be quite happy with them - perhaps because they will STILL qualify for Food Stamps and Medicaid programs. Maybe? I don't know. I don't have the details - some are considered highly confidential and even FOIA requests cannot break them loose. I have more respect for the citizens - and workers of Alabama. Airbus and their own state government do not share that respect. There is a LOT of money moving around through this process, a lot has already moved. In the famous words of the late Mark Felt, senior FBI agent and the Original Deep Throat of the Watergate experience, "Follow the Money."
    In the end, I'm delighted that many folks in Alabama will obtain work. I have to question whether their work will be fairly compensated and at today's national standards. I'd still bet that the average assembly floor worker will get screwed. What do YOU think?

  3. Good work, posts like this that keep me coming back and checking this blog regularly, thanks for the writeup!


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