Airbus Delivers Its First Passenger Jet Built in the U.S.

The European company’s new plant in Alabama ships its first product.

The first Airbus A321 built in the United States, formally branded a USA321, makes its maiden flight over Alabama’s Mobile Bay last month. (Airbus)
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Airbus’ new Final Assembly Plant in Mobile, Alabama—the first commercial aircraft factory to be opened by a foreign manufacturer on U.S. soil—delivered its first aircraft today, a single-aisle A321 purchased by JetBlue that had its maiden flight on March 21. Construction of the $600 million facility began in 2013. It officially opened in September, the culmination of a dozen years of attempts by state and local politicians and business leaders to persuade an airplane-maker to set up shop in Mobile. Airbus says it expects the new facility to reach a production goal of four airplanes per month by the end of 2017. It has been built with the capacity to double that figure in time. Airbus intends to build about 4,700 single-aisle aircraft for the North American market in the next two decades.

The average list price of a new A321 is just under $115 million. Nine other aircraft in the A320 family are currently in production onsite. An Airbus press release said the entire assembly line team was present for the formal handover of the airplane to JetBlue. The European consortium has hired about 300 people for the Mobile plant so far. It claims that 87 percent of these hires are from the Gulf Coast region, and that nearly one-third are veterans of the U.S. military.

The Mobile plant joins other Airbus factories in Toulouse, France; Hamburg, Germany; and Tanjin, China.

Look for a feature story in our next (June/July 2016) issue about Mobiles long campaign to lure an aircraft manufacturer.

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