This week, Airbus officially kicked off production of the A220 commuter jet at the Mobile, Alabama, facility, run by workers trained at the former Bombardier facility in Mirabel, Canada. The facility was announced in 2017.
“The expansion of our commercial aircraft production in Mobile to a second product line—with 400 additional jobs to support it—further solidifies Airbus’ standing as a truly global aircraft manufacturer, and confirms without a doubt that Airbus is an important part of America’s manufacturing landscape,” said Airbus Americas Chairman & CEO C. Jeffrey Knittel. “With Mobile, and our production network in Asia, Canada and Europe, we have strategically created a worldwide industrial base to better serve our customers.”
According to Airbus, the first U.S.-built A220 is due to roll off the Mobile line in the third quarter of 2020, destined for Delta Air Lines. Capacity is 40-50 A220s a year from the Alabama plant by “the middle of the next decade.”
For the initial production, Airbus will build the A220 using some of the same facilities that it uses to produce U.S.-bound A320s.
Airbus moved to produce the former Bombardier C Series, single-aisle regional jets in the U.S. after Boeing argued that its own jets were at a competitive disadvantage, causing the U.S. Commerce Department to threaten a 300% tariff on the aircraft. But by January 2018, the International Trade Commission agreed that the C Series was not a direct competitor for the Boeing product, which eliminated the threat of a tariff.
Powered by a pair of Pratt & Whitney PW1500G geared turbofan engines, Airbus says the A220 offers “at least 20% lower fuel burn per seat compared to previous generation aircraft” and “offers the performance of larger single-aisle aircraft.” There are 551 orders for the jetliner.