Stop on the ramp while to take a panoramic photo of your aircraft? Sure! Photo by Jason Rabinowitz.
When you think of airports that appeal to AvGeek, a certain few will always come to mind: St. Maarten, Los Angeles, or maybe Paine Field. Some airports that probably don’t come to mind might be West Palm Beach, Burbank, and Ft. Lauderdale, but maybe they should.
In most major American airports, passengers flow directly from the terminal to the aircraft by the use of a jet bridge, never truly getting a good view of the aircraft they are about to board. At some airports, however, if you play your cards right, you are able to board the plane from the ramp, getting an epic view of your soon to be aircraft as you enter through the door. At some locations there passengers can both board from a jetway in the front and via the ramp in the back.
HI-RES : Click for larger. Airbus’ first U.S.-based production facility – which will build A320 Family jetliners at the Brookley Aeroplex in Mobile, Alabama, beginning in 2015 – will produce between 40 and 50 aircraft annually by 2018.
Last Monday Airbus took its first step towards being an around the clock aircraft maker as it broke ground on its new Mobile, Alabama A320 plant.
When we say around the clock we literally mean it, with the new Mobile factory this will be the 4thA320 factory in the world with others in China, Germany and the company’s headquarters in Toulouse France. When the A320’s begin to be built in this factory the sun will never set on the baby bus.
At the ceremony, Airbus President and CEO Fabrice Brégier acknowledged how important and significant it is for the company to open a facility in the US, “Building an A320 family assembly line in Mobile is truly groundbreaking for Airbus. Our customers need more aircraft that cut fuel burn, emissions and operating costs. With this assembly line we will be able to meet our customers’ need at their doorstep, in addition to the worldwide demand for these efficient aircraft. When the line opens, we will be the only maker to assemble aircraft in Asia, Americas and Europe.”
The ceremonial groundbreaking for Airbus’ U.S. A320 Family final assembly line – which occurred 8 April 2013 in Mobile, Alabama – was marked by Airbus President and CEO Fabrice Brégier (fourth from right) and EADS CEO Tom Enders (sixth from right), along with state and national dignitaries, industry leaders and members of the local community. Photo from Airbus.
The new line will be located at the Mobile Brookley Aeroplex and will be able to assemble the entire A320 family: the A319, A320 and A321. The airline to receive the first US built A320 will be JetBlue. “We’re excited to welcome our long-term partners at Airbus to the United States and we look forward to taking delivery of the first U.S.-produced Airbus in 2016,” JetBlue spokesperson Mateo LLeras explained to AirlineReporter.com.
BONUS: Check out the Airbus mini-site dedicated to the new Mobile location
Major construction is set to begin this summer and be complete by late 2015 with the first aircraft set to be delivered in early 2016. Once they get the dust settled and Airbus hopes that the assembly line will produce four aircraft per month. The manufacture plans to deliver aircraft from Mobile to North and South America airline customers.
So why is Airbus making this move? Well you have to go back to 2005 when Boeing was originally awarded the US Air Force (AF) Tanker contract. There were too many question surrounding fraud, that the Air Force was required to re-bid. Airbus wanted in on the contract and to make their bid serious, the aircraft maker purchased land in Mobile that it intended to open an A330 tanker factory if they won. In 2008 Airbus was awarded the contract to build the A330 Multi Role Tanker (MRT), so they went through with the purchase the land.
After an appeal by Boeing, the Air Force decided to re-bid for a third time where Boeing won with their 767MRT. But now Airbus had all of this land and once they learned that they lost the contract Airbus announced that it still intended to bring a couple thousand jobs to the Mobile area and create an A320 plant instead of trying to sell the land.
One question that we are all curious about at AirlineReporter.com is that by having this factory in the US now can Airbus sway major US Boeing customers to come its way such as Southwest Airlines, United Airlines or Delta Air Lines who have do already (with an exception to Southwest) have Airbuses in its fleet but only cause they acquired them through mergers with other US major airlines, not from its own purchases.
Also there is potential for Airbus to acquire more land in Mobile, could we see a second line down the road or another type come to the US all together? This could get interesting.
SEE MORE MOBILE ALABAMA AIRBUS GROUND BREAKING PHOTOS
|This story written by…Brandon Farris, Correspondent. Brandon is an avid aviation geek based in Seattle. He got started in Photography and Reporting back in 2010. He loves to travel where ever he has to to cover the story and try to get the best darn shot possible.@BrandonsBlog | RightStuffPhotography | Flickr|
It is that time of year again for airlines and organizations related to aviation to come out with crazy stories for it being April Fools’ Day. Once again, we will try and track them down and share them. If you see others that are not covered here, leave something in the comments.
This is something that AvGeeks might like, but probably not most passengers. Image from Virgin Atlantic.
VIRGIN ATLANTIC TO OFFER SEE-THROUGH FLOORS:
From Richard Branson: I’m thrilled to announce that Virgin has created another world-first with the introduction of the technology required to produce the world’s first glass-bottomed plane. This technological innovation coincides with the start of Virgin Atlantic Airways’ first ever domestic service to Scotland.
In 1984 we started the wonderful airline that is Virgin Atlantic. I am incredibly proud of yet another aviation breakthrough which has been years in the making. I can’t wait to experience the first flight for myself with my family and other natural born explorers.
Read more and see some pretty sweet mock-up photos…
Take a Southwest Airlines hot air balloon. Image from Southwest Airlines.
SOUTHWEST AIRLINES ADDS HOT AIR BALLOONS
From the airline: When you’re flying nearly 500mph at 35,000 feet above ground, life passes by pretty fast. Sure, Southwest has a suite of things to keep you entertained inflight: Video on Demand; WiFi; Live at 35; hilarious Flight Attendants. Heck, we’ve even transported a miniature seeing-eye horse, and a couple endangered sea turtles. But figuratively, you can’t have the hare without the tortoise.
Realizing the possibility that slow and steady may truly win the race, the answer became clear: it was time to float the grandest idea Southwest has ever had. It was time to take things slow. The tortoise and the hare. Hot air balloons and Boeing 737’s, soaring fancy free, albeit at distinctly different altitudes, and at significantly separate speeds.
Flying does not have to be “ruff” any longer. Image from Virgin America.
MAIN CANINE SELECT WITH VIRGIN AMERICA
From the airline: We’re of the mind that man’s best friend shouldn’t get the raw deal when flying long distances, so we partnered with Boo, World’s Cutest Dog — and our very own Pet Liaison — to throw furry flyers a bone. Over the last year (and with Boo’s doggy design expertise) we’ve converted our first class cabin into a space as tricked out as our state-of-the-art digs at SFO’s Terminal 2.
See more images and learn more…
JetBlue adding more destinations? Probably not really these ones. Image from Jeremy Dwyer-Lindgren.
JETBLUE FLYING TO THREE NEW DESTINATIONS
From the airline: We’re excited to announce three tantalizing new destinations, expanding this fun-loving airline’s borders to three new countries and giving travelers more options for flying to some of the farthest-reaching dots on the globe, including:
- April River Airport (APR) in Papua New Guinea;
- Ilford Airport (ILF) in Manitoba, Canada; and
- Gold Coast Airport (OOL) in Coolangatta, Australia
Customers looking to climb an active volcano in Rabaul Caldera, experience a new sub-zero Canadian vacation spot or visit their Coolangattan relatives can now hop a flight with their favorite, customer service-friendly carrier. Once-daily flights to all three new destinations will be offered from our existing stations in Portland, Maine and Aquadilla, Puerto Rico. Twice-weekly flights will also be offered between Papua, New Guinea and Coolangatta, Australia with connecting service in Ilford, Canada(a).
Keep reading and see video…
More room for the arms. Image from Delta.
DELTA DOUBLE DECKER ARM REST
Posted on Delta’s Twitter account: Introducing the new Double Decker Armrest — coming soon to the middle seat. More arm space. Less elbow rubbing.
WestJet’s new animal policy might be a Baaaaad idea. Image from WestJet’s video.
ALL ANIMALS ON BOARD WESTJET
From the airline: WestJet today announced the easing of restrictions on pets in the cabin. All WestJet flights will now allow for any type of animal to travel in the cabin provided it fits safely on board the aircraft.
“We recognize that a growing number of families want to travel with their ‘extended’ family and we are proud to be the first airline to offer this type of service,” said Richard Bartrem, WestJet’s Vice-President, Communications and Community Relations.
Thanks Allen for finding this one.
Be sure to check out WestJet’s video…
Air Malta to buy a Hawker Hunter?
AIR MALTA BUYS A FIGHTER JET
From the Malta Independent: Air Malta has bought a 1950s privately owned two-seater Hawker Hunter fighter jet. The historic airworthy military aircraft will be painted in Air Malta’s new livery and will be used to generate new revenue streams for the airline. The aircraft will also be used to promote Air Malta and the Maltese Islands abroad by participating in a number of air shows around the world.
Plans have already been made by the airline for a soon-to-be-launched novel product ‘Jet Fighter Adventure Flights’ – an adrenalin rushing thrill seeking fighter aircraft experience that has become very popular in several countries around the world. These flights-of-a-lifetime will be available for purchase on the airline’s website www.airmalta.com.
With its sleek design, brilliant handling and maneuverability, the Hawker Hunter aircraft will offer customers the opportunity to experience a historic flying adventure. The classic Hunter was one of the best transonic jet fighter aircraft and formed the backbone of the Royal Air Force’s jet fighter squadron in the late 1950s. The aircraft was withdrawn from active service in 1995. During the 1960s and 1970s Hawker Hunter aircraft were a common sight at Malta’s Luqa airfield.
PREVIOUS AIRLINE JOKSTERS:
The new sharklet on a JetBlue Airbus A320. Photo by Jason Rabinowitz.
How does an airline burn less fuel, and make their aircraft look cooler in the process? The answer is simple: Winglets. Actually, in this case, sharklets. In late 2012, Airbus finally delivered their first A320 with blended winglets to AirAsia, which they have affectionately named a sharklet. Sharklets promise a reduced fuel burn of up to 3.5 percent, which leads to less CO2 emissions and greater profits air airlines.
New York based JetBlue is the first North American airline to sport sharklets, and is also the first airline worldwide to retrofit a production A320 with sharklets. The retrofit was completed by in-house technicians at the airlines John F. Kennedy Airport maintenance hanger. At an event Wednesday, JetBlue and Airbus were proud to show it off.
“I’m excited,” said Mark Powers, JetBlue Chief Financial Officer. “But I’m not excited that when the plane flies to San Francisco, its going to save us $568.75. No, no, I’m not excited about that. Nor am I excited about the fact that this airplane will save, conservatively, $350,000 a year. Nah, that doesn’t excite me either. And actually, once the whole fleet is retro fitted, were going to save $45 million a year, but that doesn’t excite me either. What really excites me, this airplane looks really cool. Winglets complete this aircraft.”
The first retrofit was completed quicker than expected, returning the aircraft to revenue service early. JetBlue plans to retrofit several A320s this year, but the entire fleet is not expected to be converted for several years. Older airframes will takes up to three weeks to be retrofitted, due to the wings requiring strengthening. Newer airframes will only require a few days to complete the process. All new A320 and A321 deliveries will include sharklets.
UPDATE: First Flight
Although no test flight was announced, N821JB did indeed take to the skies on Friday for a test flight. Here are some pictures at it departs JFK over my house.
|This story written by… Jason Rabinowitz, Correspondent.Jason is a New York City native who has grown up in the shadow of JFK International Airport. A true “avgeek”, he enjoys plane spotting and photography, as well taking any opportunity he can get to fly on an aircraft.@AirlineFyer | FaceBook ||