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How Airbus is going wheels up in Alabama with A220 production

On the campus of Airbus’ Alabama manufacturing facility, construction crews are working to complete a project that represents the next chapter of the aerospace company’s U.S. growth plans.

The work on Airbus’ Mobile campus is strategically significant because it will allow the company to produce a second aircraft type in Alabama — the single-aisle A220 passenger jet.

At the same time, Airbus is expanding its original A320 assembly line to accommodate a production ramp-up to six aircraft a month, up from four today.

Greg Canfield, secretary of the Alabama Department of Commerce, said the A220 assembly line project represents an important milestone for the state’s robust aerospace sector.

“Airbus’ decision to launch production of A220 aircraft at a new assembly line in Mobile will act as a powerful catalyst for sustained growth in an industrial sector that is key to Alabama’s future,” Secretary Canfield said.

“Airbus’ expanding presence in the Mobile aerospace cluster will spark significant job creation and spur additional aerospace investment in the region for many years.”

In late 2018, Airbus launched construction on the second assembly line on its Mobile campus. The project involves a $264 million investment and the creation of over 430 jobs.

The new assembly line at the Mobile Aeroplex at Brookley, adjacent to the A320 Family production line, will facilitate assembly of A220-100 and A220-300 aircraft for U.S. customers.

Jeff Knittel, chairman and CEO of Airbus Americas, said Airbus’ expansion project reflects the company’s growing partnerships with customers, as well as with U.S. supplier-partners and the communities in which the company operates across the nation.

“Our partnerships are growing again with the addition of an A220 manufacturing facility that will employ some 400 more employees at full rate,” Knittel said at a groundbreaking ceremony.

“Together we’ve already put Mobile on the map in the world of global aviation, and together we are making a new mark for the future.”

AIDT, which has played a key role in helping Airbus assemble an Alabama workforce, has been called on to help the manufacturer hire 600 new workers, split between the new A220 line and the A320 line.

“The addition of the new Airbus A220 family of aircraft in Mobile is proof that Alabama is well positioned with its workforce training to meet the needs of manufacturers all over the world,” said Ed Castile, director of AIDT and deputy secretary of the Alabama Department of Commerce.

“AIDT has worked with Airbus since the beginning, and we’re honored to continue our support,” he added.

A220 production is planned to begin in the A320 facility in late 2019, with first delivery of a Mobile-assembled A220 aircraft scheduled for 2020. The new A220 production facility will be complete that year.

Airbus and Canada’s Bombardier finalized plans in 2018 to form a joint venture to produce Bombardier’s C Series passenger jet, now called the Airbus A220.

Airbus delivered its first Alabama-built A320 Family passenger jet in 2016, and it has since delivered more than 120 aircraft to customers at the $600 manufacturing facility in Mobile.

Once the new facility is at full production, Airbus plans to build four A220 aircraft each month in Alabama.

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