The first commercial aircraft built by Airbus SAS in the U.S. has been delivered to JetBlue, the fifth-largest carrier in the market. The delivery ceremony took place at the assembly plant in Mobile, Ala., that Airbus inaugurated midway through 2015, with the entire workforce for that plant assembled. Included in the hand-over were JetBlue president and CEO Robin Hayes, and state and local officials.
Airbus committed to build the $600-million single-aisle assembly line in Mobile in 2012, and production began last year. The first aircraft delivered, a A321, completed its first flight successfully last month.
“I am immensely proud to be here to participate in this first delivery from Mobile,” stated Airbus COO – Customers, John Leahy. “Going from breaking ground on this facility three years ago to handing over the first Alabama-produced A321 today is an amazing accomplishment. It’s a testament to how well executed this project was and how strong the teamwork has been here in Mobile and throughout Airbus.”
In September 2014, JetBlue ordered three Airbus A320 aircraft, 44 A321s, and 30 A320neos.
The Airbus A320 family is a range of short-to-medium range, twin-engine aircraft, with four basic models. The A320ceo (current engine option) is powered by a choice of engines that includes the CFM International CFM56, the International Aero Engines V2500, or Pratt & Whitney’s whose PW6000 engines.
An updated and redesigned version, called the Airbus A320neo (new engine option), developed to improve fuel efficiency and reduce maintenance, will give airlines a choice of new turbofan engines: the CFM International LEAP-1A or the Pratt & Whitney PW1100G.
Following the initial JetBlue A321, Airbus has nine other A320 family aircraft in various stages of production at Mobile. The initial deliveries will involve the A320ceo aircraft, but the Mobile plant will begin transitioning to A320neo models in late 2017.
By the end of next year, Airbus expects to be delivering four aircraft per month from that location.