Airbus To Begin Offering Tours Of Its Mobile Final Assembly Line

Airbus is opening the doors of its A320 assembly site in Alabama to the public next month. On Saturday, November 14, Flight Works, an aerospace exhibition and education center next door to the Airbus site, will run four tours open to anyone to join. According to Flight Works, these will be the first-ever public tours of the Alabama aircraft factory.

The first-ever Airbus produced at Mobile takes flight. Photo: Airbus

First-ever public tours of Airbus Mobile factory

The Airbus Mobile factory is the major assembly and delivery site for Airbus commercial aircraft in the United States. It is one of four final assembly and delivery points for Airbus A320 family aircraft and one of two final assembly and delivery points for the Airbus A220.

These tours will be of the A320 factory. The Mobile factory produces A320 family aircraft bound for North American customers. Delta Air Lines, Spirit Airlines, Air Canada, and American Airlines are some of the local airlines flying A320s and their variants made in Mobile.

The Airbus Mobile factory is relatively new. The first completed plane, a JetBlueA321, only left the factory in 2016. But within two years, the factory had produced 50 aircraft and could pump A320s out at the rate of four a month.

Until now, the Airbus factory had been largely off-limits to members of the public. Tours were restricted to industry insiders and media. However, Flight Works, which is jointly funded by Airbus and the state of Alabama, is now coming to the party.

According to the firm’s information page, Flight Works is running four tours of the Mobile factory on November 14. The tours take 90 minutes and cost $23.50 per person. The tours are open to anyone, provided you can handle some stairs. While children are permitted, all adults must bring government-issued photo identification and undergo a quick security check. Flight Works also notes that photography is not permitted inside the factory.

It looks like a super interesting way to spend the morning.

Lots to see at the Airbus factory

Airbus’ final assembly line hangar at Mobile is a beast of a building. It is 836 feet by 250 feet, with a 91-foot ceiling. There are five main workstations to see on the tour.

At the first two workstations, all tubes, ducts, and cables for the electrical, hydraulic, and air conditioning systems are connected. The lavatories and galleys are placed into the still open fuselage, and the cockpit begins coming together. More than 3,000 rivets are used to join the separate pieces of the fuselage together.

At the next workstation, wings are joined to the fuselage, using among other things, another 1,200 rivets.  The aircraft is supplied with electrical power for the first time, and system testing begins. The main and nose landing gear are also assembled at this station.

Inside the A320 factory at Mobile, Alabama. Photo: Airbus

In addition to the auxiliary power unit (APU), the horizontal and vertical tailplanes, tail cone, nose, and radome all get installed at the fourth workstation. Work on the cabin interior also begins here.

The last workstation is the Dock Station. The cabin interior is worked on, and a range of function and system tests take place. In addition, engines and engine cowlings are installed.

From the dock station, the A320s are readied for final testing and painting.

At the time of writing, tickets to the tours are still available, but they should sell like hotcakes. So, if you are interested and around Mobile on November 14, get in quick.

What are your thoughts about this initiative? Let us know what you think in the comment section.