Aerial shot of the Airbus facility in Mobile – Photo: Airbus
Story and photos by Chris Sloan; was originally published on AirwaysNews.com on September 14, 2015.
With top level delegations from Airbus and the State of Alabama, Airbus Group today threw open the doors to its first U.S. Final Assembly Line in Mobile, Alabama at the Brookley Aeroplex – The first time a foreign manufacturer has built jets on U.S. soil.
This new production facility, specifically constructed to build Airbus A320 family aircraft destined for delivery to United States and Canadian customers, joins sister factories in Toulouse, Hamburg, and the northeastern Chinese city of Tianjin, where the company recently announced A330s would be constructed beginning in 2018.
Major components of the first two aircraft to be assembled at the Airbus U.S. Manufacturing Facility are shown in the main final assembly hangar – Photo: Airbus
The Mobile final assembly line opens with ambitious goals, befitting the A320 family program. First aircraft assembly began in July with the first U.S.-produced airframe, a JetBlue A321ceo (MSN6512), which is expected to roll out in the first quarter of 2016, with delivery set in the second quarter. The second aircraft, also an A321ceo for American Airlines, is set to be delivered by the third quarter of the next year.
Plans call for an initial production rate of four A320 family ceos per month by the end of 2017, following an initial start of two aircraft per month. With the A321 being “the heart of the U.S. market”, the initial deliveries on the horizon are for the stretched variant. A320neo family deliveries are scheduled to begin in late 2017 / early 2018 with no drop in production rate.
American A321 on final at LAX. AA could be a potential customer for the new variant – Photo: Bernie Leighton | AirlineReporter
Airbus has done what analysts have been expecting for the past few months; announce a version of the A321 with the ability to fly a greatly extended range and finally match (and exceed) the capabilities of a Boeing 757-200 with winglets.
The 97-ton maximum weight will be achieved by the addition of a fuel tank in the forward baggage compartment and some fairly low-cost reengineering of the wing. Air Lease Corporation is the launch customer, with a memorandum of understanding for thirty frames. They have not, yet, stated where these aircraft will be placed.
To achieve a 4000-nm range, Airbus has envisioned a configuration carrying 206 passengers (16J and 190Y). They have also stated that, due to the extra fuel tank and limitations of the design, it is unlikely for this aircraft to be able to carry much cargo. This may, immediately, appear as a source of consternation if your airline relies on flying long sorties on narrow-bodies full of fresh fish. Otherwise, is it really a big deal? I would say no.
American Airlines’ Airbus A321 sitting at JFK – Photo: Eric Dunetz
This story was written for AirlineReporter.com by Eric Dunetz (@southpawcapture)
Out with the old and in with the new.
American Airlines showed off their brand-new Airbus A321 at John F Kennedy International Airport (JFK) on Tuesday and upped the game in the ever-competitive transcontinental market. I was invited to take a tour.
The A321 with be replacing American’s aging Boeing 767-200 on the JFK/LAX route starting January 7th, and the JFK/SFO shortly thereafter, and will offer a welcomed upgrade for passengers.
A First Class seat on the American Airbus A321 – Photo: Eric Dunetz
American will be the only carrier to offer a three-class cabin, featuring fully lie-flat seats in both First and Business Class, on a narrow-body aircraft. The First Class cabin will be outfitted with 10 fully lie-flat seats in a 1-1 configuration, giving each seat direct aisle access.
Business class will have 20 fully lie-flat seats in a 2-2 configuration. Each premium class seat features a 15.4-inch HD-capable touchscreen monitor offering a selection of in-flight entertainment including movies, TV programs, audio selections, and games.
In Main Cabin (economy) every seat will have an 8.9-inch HD-capable touchscreen monitor with an assortment of movies, TV programs, games and audio selections. Only a portion of the content is free.
An Airbus A321 pushing back at Philadelphia. Is this a Boeing 757 replacement? – Photo: Mal Muir | AirlineReporter.com
With most Boeing 757s heading toward the end of their life cycles, airlines are moving forward with plans for more fuel-efficient aircraft that can hold similar amounts of passengers over a decent range. The most popular option at the moment is the Airbus A321. Having never flown one myself, I was excited to have an opportunity to test out this aircraft on a recent flight out east. I wanted to see first hand how the newer A321 stacked up to the (soon-to-be) classic 757.
At the moment, the only current operatosr of the A321 in the U.S. are Spirit and US Airways; however JetBlue and American Airlines have received their first ones and Delta, and Hawaiian have plans to expand their fleet with the A321 in either CEO (Current Engine Option) or NEO (New Engine Option) flavor. In some cases, these aircraft will replace 757s, such as with AA; however, some are just for expansion as with the case of JetBlue & Hawaiian.
My first-ever flight on an Airbus A321 was with US Airways, travelling from Phoenix to Washington DC’s Reagan National Airport. Not only would this be a new aircraft for me, but also a new airport (Phoenix) and a new airline (US Airways). Hee-haw, I was down for the AvGeek newness tri-fecta.