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Airbus breaks ground for first U.S. assembly line in Alabama

MOBILE, Alabama — As community leaders, elected officials, suppliers, construction officials and more spoke at the Airbus groundbreaking for the company’s first U.S. final assembly line (FAL) this morning, each concluded their remarks with the same theme: “It is a groundbreaking day.”

It is a groundbreaking day for Airbus, as it expands its global footprint into North America. It is a groundbreaking day for Alabama’s gulf coast and Mobile Brookley Aeroplex, which will see 1,000 new jobs from the plant. And, it is a groundbreaking day for the state of Alabama, which is quickly becoming a center for aviation industry activity in the United States.

“In about two years we will start assembling aircraft here in Alabama, and there are only four places in the world where we are doing that,” Airbus President and CEO Fabrice Bregier told the crowd of more than 1,000 attending the groundbreaking. “This represents the transformation of Airbus into a truly global company. When this assembly line opens, we will be the only one to assemble aircraft in Asia, the Americas and Europe.”

The new Airbus Alabama assembly line will facilitate assembly of A319, A320 and A321 aircraft. Major construction of the facility will begin this summer with aircraft assembly planned to begin in 2015 and first delivery of a Mobile-assembled passenger jet in 2016.

For Alabama, the beginning of construction at Airbus’s FAL at Mobile Brookley Aeroplex represents a leap forward for the state’s aerospace industry, which was already strong. More than 300 aerospace companies operate in Alabama including the world’s two largest, Boeing and Airbus parent company EADS. Others include GE Aviation, Lockheed Martin, Northrup Grumman, Sikorsky, ST Aerospace Mobile and Raytheon.

Boeing has had a presence in North Alabama for more than 50 years, where it maintains a strategic missile and defense systems headquarters. The company’s Alabama facilities oversee NASA’s new heavy lift launch vehicle and provide support to the international space station.

Airbus already operates an Engineering Center at Brookley, which employs more than 200 engineers and support staff.

Airbus’ FAL arrival has already generated further expansion. Airbus partner and engineering services supplier Safran Engineering Services celebrated its grand opening this morning at Mobile Brookley Aeroplex just before the Airbus groundbreaking just across Brookley field, and economic develop leaders in Alabama are working to recruit additional suppliers to the state.

Airbus will bring high-tech jobs

Officials also applauded the creation of jobs that will come with the Airbus facility at this morning’s groundbreaking ceremony (April 8, 2013).

“We all know that Airbus will bring 1,000 direct jobs to this site. That alone is good news for our great state,” said Alabama Governor Robert Bentley. “Jobs are not just about building a plane or boosting our economy. When we talk about job creation we’re talking about making a difference in the lives of real people. … This facility will mean a brighter future for the people across this region.”

Victoria Corob, an eighth grader at Clark-Shaw Magnet School in Mobile enrolled in the school’s engineering class spoke at the groundbreaking ceremonies, saying that she has always been interested in aviation and hopes to one day work for a company like Airbus in Mobile.

“This new aerospace center in Mobile will give us all new dreams for our future,” she said.

Photo by: Bruno Bernard of Safran
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