By Brandon Moseley
Alabama Political Reporter
On Monday, September 14, the global aviation industry will have all eyes on Mobile, Alabama as European aviation powerhouse, Airbus will formally unveil its long awaited first North American manufacturing facility at 10:00 AM central time.
Alabama Governor Robert Bentley said in a statement, “We already expect Airbus to provide 1,000 jobs for Alabamians, and Airbus suppliers will bring thousands more.”
Congressman Bradley Byrne (R-Montrose) will speak at the Inauguration of Operations for the Airbus US Manufacturing Facility in Mobile. Congressman Byrne will bring opening remarks and discuss the impact Airbus will have on Southwest Alabama and the First Congressional District.
On May 29, Airbus began shipping components to Mobile by cargo ship, in the presence of the US Consul General in Hamburg, Nancy Corbett. Traditional songs from all four European Airbus nations and the US played as the ship, bearing German and US flags, and flags of the city state of Hamburg and the State of Alabama, sailed off.
Airbus President and CEO, Fabrice Brégier said, “North America is one of the largest single-aisle aircraft markets in the world. This manufacturing facility brings us closer to our customers, and strengthens the aerospace industry in the US, Europe and around the world. Production will begin in just a few weeks, with first delivery scheduled for 2016.”
The Alabama Department of Commerce estimates that the Airbus plant will have a $409 million impact on the state’s economy. It has been estimated that the Airbus plant will directly employ up to 1,000 Alabamians. The Alabama Department of Commerce estimates that ultimately another 3,700 Alabamians could eventually be employed by Airbus suppliers locating in the state.
Dr. Ulrich Weber has been responsible for the construction and commissioning of the $600 million Airbus plant in Mobile and is currently the Vice President and General Manager of the Mobile facility. In August Airbus announced that eventually Daryl Taylor will assume operational oversight of the facility as the Vice President and General Manager once his training in Airbus’s European facilities is complete.
According to Airbus, the Vice President and General Manager of the Airbus US Manufacturing Facility is responsible for ensuring the assembly and delivery of on-time, on-quality and on-cost aircraft to customers. He also oversees the operations of all necessary systems and support staff in the A320 family production facility. The position reports directly to Barry Eccleston, President of Airbus Americas.
President Eccleston said, “After an extensive and demanding search, we are pleased to welcome Daryl to the Airbus team. He brings a wealth of knowledge and experience in aircraft manufacturing and facility operations which will ensure the A320 Family manufacturing facility in Mobile is successful, an industry leader and provides a great product to our customers.”
This will be the fourth Airbus plant building the A320. Airbus has existing A320 family plants in Toulouse, France, Hamburg, Germany, and Tianjin, China. The Alabama plant is located on 116 acres at the former Brookley Air Force Base. Once the plant is at full production it will produce four passenger jets per month.
Aircraft components will arrive in Alabama from Europe via cargo ship through the port of Mobile. In June, the BBC Fuji arrived at the Port of Mobile with the first major components for the first Alabama made passenger jet which is an A321ceo which is being built for JetBlue Airways.
Airbus has actually had a long history with Mobile and Alabama. The trio teamed up to pursue an Air Force air tanker contract. Alabama and Airbus won the competition; but ultimately politics led to the Airbus bid being rejected in favor of Seattle based Boeing.
When Airbus decided to expand its footprint in North America, Mobile was the logical site. Former Mobile County Commissioner Stephen Nodine (R) told the Alabama Political Reporter that the whole Gulf Coast Area of West Florida and the Mississippi Gulf Coast helped recruit Airbus and worked on getting the tanker contract. Mobile was the logical site because Brookley Air Force base was already there.
Alabama Secretary of Commerce Greg Canfield (R) said, “The aerospace corridor to be created by the announcement of Airbus will be one of the biggest projects our state has seen. We are going to do everything we can to help make doing business easier for the aerospace industry in Alabama so that the new jobs come here.”