The topping out ceremony at the Airbus site today was meant to commemorate the moment when the highest structural element of the building was placed into position, representing a key milestone between a project’s ground-breaking and its ribbon-cutting event.
The tradition usually involves a tree, but in this case, Birmingham-based Hoar Program Management, which is overseeing the Airbus project, and Dothan’s Covenant Steel, a contractor, decided on a twist. Covenant Steel built a 21-foot steel tree-like structure, which was adorned with flags of the companies involved in the project and lifted inside the facility.
“This is a proud moment for many of us as we commemorate what has transpired on this site in the last few months, but more importantly, celebrate what will continue here for many years to come,” said Mike Lanier, president of Hoar Program Management (HPM).
The Airbus construction project is a major undertaking. Before it’s completed, construction workers at the 116-acre Brookley site will drill 1,800 foundation pilings, pour 38,000 cubic yards of concrete and erect 5,300 tons of structural steel, HPM said last year. Buildings sprawling for 733,000 square feet will rise on the site.
Airbus officials have said the Alabama plant will help it expand its share of the global market for single-aisle passenger jets, particularly in the United States. The Mobile plant will have 1,000 workers once it ramps up to full production in 2018, turning out four or five planes each month.
“When Airbus decided to touch down in Alabama and build its A320 assembly facility here at Mobile’s Brookley Aeroplex, HPM was humbled to be chosen to lead the efforts,” Lanier said. “Now, that the first of several projects for the facility has its last structural element in place, the vision has quite literally taken shape around us.”
HPM is working with the Mobile office of Hatch Mott McDonald, an international engineering and aviation design firm, on the project.
At today’s event, Dr. Ulrich Weber, who leads Airbus’ efforts in Mobile and the A320 family program, called the topping out celebration a great achievement that “shows everything is well on track,” according to a report on AL.com. He singled out the workers who toil each day on the construction site, saying they are making the project a reality.
“It is your contributions making Mobile a world-class location of producing civil aircraft, such as Hamburg (Germany), such as Toulouse (France),” Ulrich said, referring to locations in Europe where Airbus produces aircraft.