Airbus celebrated another exciting step in its US production operation earlier this year as it completed construction of its Airbus A220 final assembly line. The final assembly line at Airbus’s manufacturing facility in Mobile, Alabama recently kicked into action, but when will the first aircraft emerge?
Back in January, Airbus completed construction of its brand-new Airbus A220 manufacturing facility, which will employ 400 people. The Alabama plant will produce the Airbus A220-100 and A220-300 for Airbus’ US customers.
Airbus has invested massively in its US manufacturing operation, working with suppliers in more than 40 states. There are a number of active facilities Airbus facilitates across the country, including engineering centers in Kansas and Alabama, helicopter manufacturing facilities in Texas and Mississippi and a satellite manufacturing facility in Florida.
The Airbus A220 manufacturing line in Mobile went live in early August, but don’t expect any completed aircraft to come out of the facility just yet. The first finished product will roll off the line sometime in Q3 of 2020, after which it will make its way to its customer, Delta Air Lines.
By the middle of the next decade, Airbus says that it expects the facility to produce 40 to 50 aircraft per year.
So far, Airbus has received more than 500 orders for the Airbus A220 around the world. In North America, Delta Air Lines and JetBlue are the largest prospective customers so far, placing orders for 95 and 70 aircraft respectively.
Why is Airbus producing the Airbus A220 in Alabama?
Airbus supplies aircraft to airlines all over the world. As a result, it makes sense for Airbus to spread its production facilities across different regions to best meet demand. In a press release, Airbus Americas Chairman and CEO, C. Jeffrey Knittel, said,
“With Mobile, and our production network in Asia, Canada and Europe, we have strategically created a worldwide industrial base to better serve our customers.”
Airbus already produces its larger A320 on the same site in Mobile, so much of the logistical infrastructure for the A220 production line was already in place. Nevertheless, Airbus still had to spend a total of $300 million to get the new production line up and running.
The Mobile, Alabama production plant is also conveniently located nearby Delta Air Lines’ main hub in Atlanta, Georgia.
One final benefit of building its aircraft in America is that the aircraft can be marketed as American-made. Many Americans see Airbus as a European competitor to America’s aviation darling, Boeing.
What does the Airbus A220 bring to the table?
The Airbus A220 has an impressive stat sheet which combines a number of features aimed at promoting efficiency. In a statement, Airbus says,
“The A220 is the only aircraft purpose-built for the 100-150 seat market; it delivers unbeatable fuel efficiency and true widebody comfort in a single-aisle aircraft.”
The segment in which the Airbus A220 competes is one that many airlines have taken an interest in. Now that the Airbus A220 can be sold as a domestic, American-made product, the order book should continue to fill up.