Airbus SAS reported the first jet assembled at its U.S. Manufacturing Facility in Mobile, Ala., took off for the first time on Monday morning, March 21. After completing a sequence of flight tests, the A321 aircraft landed safely about 3.5 hours later. The OEM noted that over 300 employees at the new Mobile plant cheered as the plane took flight.
The A321 is one variant of the Airbus A320 series of twin-engine, narrow-body commercial aircraft, developed for short- and medium-range service, or 3,100-12,000 km (1,700-6,500 nm, or 1,925-7,450 miles.) The jets are designed to carry up to 220 passengers.
Airbus noted that the A321 is the largest variant of the A320 series, and able to fly longer routes (e.g., trans-Atlantic routes.) The jet-builder claimed the A320 series is “the world’s best-selling single aisle product line,” with over 12,400 orders and almost 6,700 aircraft delivered to some 300 customers.
The A320 series jets (other variants include the A318, 319, and A320) are assembled at Airbus plants in Toulouse, France, Hamburg, Germany, and Tianjin, China. The plant in Mobile opened in 2015.
The jet now completed and in the flight-testing phase will be supplied to JetBlue, according to Airbus. It will undergo several more weeks of final production steps before it is delivered to the carrier.
Two Airbus test pilots, working with three flight test engineers and two ground test engineers/cabin specialists, conducted the test flight. The tests they conducted involved the aircraft’s on flight systems and engines and structural performance.
“We’ve come to an exciting milestone in the production of any aircraft, but this one is particularly special,” stated Daryl Taylor, vice president and general manager of the Airbus U.S. Manufacturing Facility. “The Mobile team has worked hard, and I’m proud that their skill and talent have brought us to this moment.”