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.
N595JB, an Airbus A320 named Rhythm & Blues at SLC airport
In part one of this series I provided an overview of my airline sampler trip (five airlines over four days) and offered my thoughts on my very first flight with Virgin America, from Dallas (DAL) to San Francisco (SFO.) For part two I reviewed United’s 787-8 BusinessFirst service from SFO to Los Angeles (LAX). Today we pick up just a stone’s throw away from LAX, at Long Beach Airport (LGB), for a quick journey to Salt Lake City (SLC) with JetBlue.
Let me first say, I’ve always been fond of JetBlue. Except their route map. They simply don’t exist in my neck of the woods, so the opportunity to check them out never presented itself. When opportunity doesn’t knock, we’ve got to go looking. Enter the Airline Sampler, a trip focused solely on getting out and experiencing new things. I was excited to find a way to incorporate my first B6 (their airline code) flight into my adventure.
Delta has partnered with Starbucks as their new coffee provider – Photo: Starbucks
I will be the first to admit (and I have) that I am a coffee addict. So to surprise no one, I am talking about something close to my heart, and my stomach. Coffee on-board a flight (or while waiting for one) is a big thing, not only to me, but to so many other travelers.
The Delta 737 called “The Spirit of Seattle” seen from the air – Photo: Bernie Leighton | AirlineReporter
Airlines are not known to have the world’s best coffee. Heck, some might even call it plain awful. An airline’s choice of coffee can be an important one, not only to keep the passengers happy but also for their budgets. More and more airlines are taking their choice of coffee quite seriously and I decided to hold the cream and sugar and dive on in.
The 2013 World Airline Award winner was Emirates; who will it be this year? Photo: Brandon Farris
The 2014 World Airline Awards were held recently, in conjunction with the Farnborough Air Show, and the winners have been announced. In a star-studded event held at the old Royal Aircraft Establishment’s Wind Tunnels, the winners were announced by Skytrax, who manages the awards. Some of the winners this year came as a bit of a surprise.
The World Airline Awards are an independent and totally non-biased process, with nearly 19 million people voting online (between August 2013 to May 2014) to decide who has the best services, cabins, cabin crews, and even lounges. This is not just for your big name full-service airlines; even Low Cost Carriers have their own categories! More than 105 different nationalities participated in this year’s survey and helped to define who was going to be named “World’s Best Airline”.