Airbus
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Airbus Resumes Assembly Line Revamp

May 13, 2021
As the new-aircraft-demand outlook improves, a project to modernize a wide-body assembly line to add capacity and production flexibility for in-demand narrow-body jets has started again.

Modernization of the Airbus A320/A321 final assembly line (FAL) in Toulouse, France, has resumed, the OEM reported. The project to remodel the former A380 assembly line into a "digitally enabled, A320/A321 line" was introduced in January 2020 as part of Airbus’ modernization effort for its A320 production program.

The wide-body A380 series was discontinued early last year. Airbus presently has a backlog of 5,650 orders for its A320 series single-aisle aircraft. The capital investment cost has not been reported.

Airbus A321 twin-engine, narrow-body jets are assembled in Hamburg, Germany, and Mobile, Ala., but the new A320 Family FAL in Toulouse will add more capacity for single-aisle aircraft as well as support production of the new, A321XLR extended-range aircraft due to enter service in 2023.

The A321XLR will be a long-range (4,700 nmi / 8,700 km) narrow-body jet with a 30% lower fuel-burn-per-seat than comparable aircraft.

The modernization was halted in March 2020 as Airbus began to halt operations in line with COVID-19 pandemic closings, and then delayed further as the manufacturer implemented plans to address falling demand for new aircraft by reducing commercial aircraft production by 40%.

“Now, with market recovery in sight and a potential return to pre-COVID production rates for single-aisle aircraft between 2023 and 2025, Airbus is resuming its activities for the project,” according to its statement.

Airbus said that resuming the modernization project will increase its flexibility to respond to market recovery and future demand, throughout its global production system. The revamped assembly line should be operational by the end of 2022.