MOBILE, Alabama – The Airbus assembly facility at Mobile Aeroplex reached another milestone this week when the first Alabama-made jetliner left the production floor at the new $600 million plant and entered the paint shop.
Airbus announced the development at the Alabama facility on Wednesday with a message on Twitter: “1st aircraft now out of production and in paint. Congrats to the team!” An accompanying photo showed a spotted green A321 passenger jet and a throng of workers from the Mobile plant holding a banner saying, “First Airbus Aircraft Proudly Made in the U.S.A.”
Ireland-based MAAS Aviation, which operates the paint shop at the Airbus complex at Mobile Aeroplex, posted a striking image of the A321ceo entering the cavernous paint facility.
The first Alabama-made Airbus aircraft should make a maiden flight in Mobile this spring, followed by delivery to its owner, JetBlue Airways. That delivery will be followed by six other Alabama-made A321 aircraft, all with the conventional engine option (ceo), to be delivered to American Airlines, according to Airways News.
Airbus’ Alabama workforce started assembling the first aircraft shortly after the plane’s major components arrived at the Port of Mobile last June via cargo ship from Europe. Assembly was already well under way in September, when France-based Airbus held a grand-opening ceremony for its only U.S. manufacturing facility.
“Mobile is our industrial home,” Airbus Group Chairman and CEO Allan McArtor said at the time.
Airbus has said the Alabama manufacturing facility will be initially dedicated to producing the A321, the largest variant of its twin-engine, narrow-body A320 family. By the end of 2017, Airbus plans to reach a production rate of four aircraft per month in Mobile.
Airbus U.S. Manufacturing Facility Mobile: 1st aircraft now out of production and in paint. Congrats to the team! pic.twitter.com/Az0YtE8hzD
— Airbus In the U.S. (@AirbusInTheUS) February 23, 2016
MAAS PAINT FACILITY
This week, MAAS broke ground on a project to build a separate twin-bay paint facility at the Aeroplex to serve the maintenance, repair and overhaul, or MRO, market. The project at the Mobile industrial complex – sometimes called Brookley, after the U.S. Air Force Base that once operated there — was announced during the 2015 Paris Air Show.
“These are momentous times for MAAS Aviation and the construction of this painting facility here at Brookley represents the largest single investment undertaken in the history of our company,” Tim Macdougald, vice president of MAAS Aviation USA, said this week.
“Brookley will be our U.S. headquarters, and we look forward to providing world-class levels of service to aircraft operators and owners located throughout the Americas right here in Mobile from the end of 2016.”