Airbus has just kicked things into overdrive to take the A220 from a small concept plane to a mass market jet, starting construction on a mega facility for rapid production.
This comes on the heels of yesterday’s news that Boeing’s Embraer partnership has run into political trouble.
What is the Airbus A220?
The Airbus A220 is a partnership plane with Airbus and Canadian megacorp Bombardier.
In the airline marketplace, Airbus did not really have a plane that was smaller than an Airbus A320 in terms of capacity. Bombardier, famous for their turbojet Q400 aircraft, was keen to build a new jet craft from the ground up that could ferry around 100 passengers (in the -100 series) or 200 (in the -300 series).
However, Bombardier ran into some trouble when it came to selling the aircraft in the US when Boeing used its political might to crash the sale. They claimed that they were a foreign competitor and their new C-series (the original name of the A220) would beat out their Boeing 737. Needless to say, Bombardier was told to sell their new plane elsewhere.
You can read our analysis of which is better, the Boeing 737 vs the Airbus A220 here.
Until Airbus stepped in. Airbus offered to put the finishing touches on the new jet in their Alabama facility, and thus the A220 would be a ‘domestic’ product. Now the US government could not step in for a very grumpy Boeing. As part of the partnership, Airbus now owns 51% of the product line, and they are investing in a big way.
How is Airbus investing in the airline?
Airbus has started two things.
The A220 main production facility in Mirabel, Quebec is being expanded with two large dome buildings by late 2019. This will facilitate more A220 aircraft to be built year round.
Additionally, Airbus has retooled their Alabama facility just last week to get these jets out as soon as possible.
And it seems to be working, with a new A220 being delivered every week.
“The current A220 production rate at which aircraft are moved (and produced) in the assembly line is 1 per 6 days and this is changing to 1 move per 5 day starting in January 2019. So in a perfect world, we can’t expect more than seventy-three (73) A220 deliveries in 2019.” – fliegerfaust.com
Airlines are very keen to put these planes to work. They are perfect for short to medium haul routes between small airports (and are far more fuel efficient than the Boeing 737 range).
Only time will tell if this Airbus gamble and investment will pay off.
What do you think of Airbus and their new A220?