LONDON – Airbus has celebrated yet another milestone this week by delivering the 100th aircraft from its U.S. manufacturing facility in Alabama.
The 100th plane, an Airbus A320neo (N343FR • MSN8580), was delivered to Frontier Airlines.
The plane featured two horses, Meadow & West, on its tail, as per the usual Frontier tradition to feature wild animals on each on its aircraft’s tails.
At the moment, production rates out of that facility are around four A320 Family aircraft per month.
The Alabama assembly line has produced aircraft for up to eight US-based customers, being Air Lease Corporation, Allegiant, American, Delta, Frontier, Hawaiian, JetBlue, and Spirit.
It has now come to about 10 years since Airbus began its presence in Alabama, with some failed projects along that path.
Looking Back At The Alabama Project
2008 saw the manufacturer’s parent firm, EADS, working with Northup Grumman on bids to supply aerial refueling tankers to the USAF.
It wanted to supply the KC-45, which was based on the A330 MRTT (Multi Role Tanker Transport), with EADS wanting to develop the aircraft in Mobile.
At this point, the subsidiary announced it would shift the A330 Commercial Freighter program over to the Mobile plant, too, with up to $600 million planned investments from them and Northrop Grumman.
However, EADS did not win the contract and ditched plans for the Airbus A330 production line in the United States.
Skip to four years later, in June 2012, when Airbus came back to Mobile. The manufacturer set its eyes in America to look for a factory to manufacture its Airbus A320 Family aircraft for all its North and South American customers.
On June 30 that year, Airbus announced a $600 million investment to the airport offering a new factory, employing up to 1,000 full-time workers when at full capacity.
Construction began in 2013 with it becoming operational by 2015, with former CEO Fabrice Bregier wanting a production rate of 40-50 by 2017.
The first airframe from the plant was delivered to JetBlue in April 2016.
Based on current numbers, Airbus is manufacturing about 48 aircraft per year at the Mobile assembly line, which is well within the targets set by Airbus.
Delivering the 100th plane is a big step for Airbus and its Alabama production line. Now that the manufacturer is able to produce up to 50 planes per year, the outlook seems brighter than ever for the aerospace industry in this Southern state.