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Alabama leaders travel to Hamburg, Germany for Aviation Forum 2013

MONTGOMERY, Alabama — Alabama Department of Commerce Assistant Director of Business Development Bob Smith and a delegation of Alabama leaders have traveled to Germany to attend Aviation Forum 2013, a conference in Hamburg that largely attracts aviation suppliers looking to work with aerospace giant Airbus.

“The Aviation Forum gives Alabama the opportunity to get in front of dozens of companies who will be looking to support the Airbus final assembly line in Mobile,” Alabama Secretary of Commerce Greg Canfield said. “Our goal is to make sure each and every one of those companies know about the development sites, infrastructure and opportunities in Alabama should they consider a location in our state in support of the Airbus Mobile operations.”

Airbus’ first U.S. assembly line is currently under construction at Mobile Brookley Aeroplex. The company plans to begin manufacturing its A320 family of passenger jets in Alabama in 2015 at a facility that will provide 1,000 new jobs in the region. Airbus’ decision to assemble jet liners in Alabama dramatically expands the company’s presence in the state. Airbus operates an engineering center with 220 workers at Brookley that focuses on its A350 XWB, A380 and other planes.

The Alabama delegation in Hamburg includes several leaders from South Alabama, including officials from the Mobile Area Chamber of Commerce, the Mobile Airport Authority, the Alabama State Docks and the Baldwin County Economic Development Alliance.

Mobile Mayor Sandy Stimpson will lead the Mobile delegation and is set to speak at the Forum as part of the welcome address on Wednesday. The trip will mark Stimpson’s first official visit to Germany since taking office Nov. 4.

Mayor Stimpson also will meet with Airbus company leaders and tour the Airbus Hamburg plant during their stay. Officials will meet individually with several supplier companies during the conference as well.

Secretary Canfield was scheduled to attend the conference but had to cancel because of an illness.

Hamburg serves as Airbus’ German headquarters, and the company assembles A320 family aircraft there, among other activities. (Read a story about parallels between Hamburg and Mobile.)

Aerospace industry in Alabama

In addition to Airbus’s growing presence, Alabama’s vibrant aerospace sector includes more than 300 companies with a combined 83,000 employees. The sector’s annual payroll exceeds $3 billion.

The largest aerospace company in Alabama is Boeing, Airbus’ chief rival in the global passenger jet business. Boeing has had a presence in Alabama for more than 50 years and today supports U.S. defense and space programs through operations in Huntsville.

Alabama Governor Robert Bentley and Secretary Canfield recently met with Boeing Co. representatives to discuss the possibility of the aerospace company placing work related to the assembly of the 777X passenger jet in Huntsville, where Boeing already has a major presence.

Boeing has already said some engineering work on the 777X project will be performed in Huntsville and other company locations outside the Seattle area. Boeing engineers in Huntsville previously performed engineering work on the company’s 787 Dreamliner.

Photo: Airbus’ A320 Final Assembly Line in Hamburg Germany. The Alabama delegation will tour the facility on Tuesday.

Updated on Dec. 2 to reflect new information.

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