Check out the $600 million Alabama factory where Airbus builds jets for American, Delta, and JetBlue

The Airbus Mobile A320-family final assembly line.

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The Airbus Mobile A320-family final assembly line.
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Benjamin Zhang/Business Insider

Over the last five decades, Airbus has developed into a global aviation giant. The European consortium and Boeing now make up the duopoly that dominates the global commercial aircraft industry.

But most people are not aware of the substantial manufacturing footprint Toulouse, France-based Airbus has in the US. This includes helicopters in Mississippi and satellites in Florida.

And then there’s the crown jewel, the commercial aircraft final assembly line in Mobile, Alabama.

This is where the company produces Airbus A320-family jets for US customers such as American, Delta, Jetblue, Frontier, Spirit, Allegiant, and Hawaiian Airlines.

The Airbus A320-family of jets, which includes the A319, A320, and A321, is also assembled in Toulouse, France; Hamburg, Germany; and Tianjin, China.

Read more: The amazing story of how the Airbus A320 became the Boeing 737’s greatest rival.

The European aviation giant first made its presence felt in Mobile with the establishment of the Airbus Engineering Center in January 2007 that has since helped develop systems for the Airbus A330, A350, and A380 airliners.

Back then, there were quite a few people within the company that questioned whether a Mobile campus was really needed, Airbus Group CEO Tom Enders recounted to reporters in January. There are “no longer” any doubters, Enders added.

In January, Airbus broke ground on a second final assembly line at its Mobile complex to build the new A220 airliner. The A220, previously known as the Bombardier C Series, is currently assembled exclusively in Mirabel, Quebec, Canada.

Read more: Boeing started a trade dispute with Canada, but Airbus and Alabama ended up being the winners.

The new Mobile A220 plant is expected to produce four planes a month, Airbus Americas CEO Jeff Knittel told reporters.

Shortly, after the groundbreaking ceremony, Business Insider got the chance to step inside the A320 plant.

Here’s a closer look at the Airbus A320-family production facility in Mobile, Alabama.


The Airbus A320 final assembly line or FAL in Airbus parlance is a 53-acre facility just a few minutes drive from downtown Mobile.

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Airbus

Business Insider had the chance to visit the facility as part of the groundbreaking festivities of a new Airbus A220 production line.

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Airbus

Our first stop was the delivery center. It’s where airlines pick up their new planes.

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Benjamin Zhang/Business Insider

Here’s an unobstructed view of the delivery center.

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REUTERS/Michael Spooneybarge

We didn’t take delivery of any new planes. But, we did attend a press briefing with senior Airbus executives including (L to R) America’s CEO Jeff Knittel, Commercial Airplanes president Guillaume Faury, Group CEO Tom Enders, and A220 program boss Philippe Balducchi.

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Benjamin Zhang/Business Insider

Looking out from the delivery center, we see jets bound for Delta, Spirit, and Frontier.

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Benjamin Zhang/Business Insider

There’s also an Airbus A321neo awaiting some finishing touches. Soon, it’ll be flying for Hawaiian Airlines.

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Benjamin Zhang/Business Insider

Here’s what it’ll look like once finished.

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Airbus

Other airlines to take delivery of planes from the factory include American and…

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Airbus

…JetBlue.

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Airbus

The Airbus facility also includes a paint shop and a transshipment hangar where parts are gathered before being moved onto the assembly line.

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REUTERS/Michael Spooneybarger

Parts of the A320-family come from factories around the world. For example, the vertical stabilizer is made in Germany.

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Airbus

While the forward fuselage is made in France. In addition, the wings are made in the UK while the horizontal stabilizers are made in Spain.

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Airbus

Here’s the assembly hangar.

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Benjamin Zhang/Business Insider

The Mobile assembly plant opened for business in 2015.

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Benjamin Zhang/Business Insider

In April 2016, Airbus delivered its first Mobile made aircraft, an A321ceo, to JetBlue.

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Airbus

The first thing you notice is just how clean and neatly organized the assembly line is.

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Benjamin Zhang/Business Insider

On the wall is a rundown of US airlines that fly Airbus jets.

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Benjamin Zhang/Business Insider

Another reminder this isn’t Toulouse or Hamburg.

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Benjamin Zhang/Business Insider

The factory is structured to have parts enter the hangar on one end and…

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Benjamin Zhang/Business Insider

…Exit as assembled aircraft on the other.

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Benjamin Zhang/Business Insider

Here’s a rear fuselage that is waiting to be…

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Benjamin Zhang/Business Insider

…Merged with the forward fuselage.

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Benjamin Zhang/Business Insider

As the aircraft moves down the line, more and more bits are installed onto the fuselage.

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Benjamin Zhang/Business Insider

Such as wings and…

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Benjamin Zhang/Business Insider

… Landing gear.

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Benjamin Zhang/Business Insider

On the far end, there is what looks to be an Airbus A321 bound for Delta Air Lines.

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Benjamin Zhang/Business Insider

According to Airbus Americas CEO Jeff Knittel, the A320 line produces an average of four and a half planes a month.

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Benjamin Zhang/Business Insider

Knittel expects production to be at five planes a month by the end of 2020.

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Benjamin Zhang/Business Insider