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Airbus delivery center set for debut

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The huge Airbus delivery center will host VIPs and make history when the first passenger plane is delivered to JetBlue next year.

Delivery center under construction at Mobile Aeroplex. It’s the company’s fourth

Delivery center under construction at Mobile Aeroplex. It’s the company’s fourth.

When British airline EasyJet took delivery this past April of its 250th A320 at Airbus’ delivery center in Hamburg, Germany, it was a very special occasion.

Top executives from both companies were there, praising the business relationship that resulted in EasyJet growing its A320 fleet to nearly 100, with more planes on order. In collaboration with EasyJet, Airbus gave the plane a unique paint job that used 250 tiny paintings of planes to form “250.”

Later that month, the delivery of an A320 to Nepal Airlines at the same facility took a different approach. The jetliner was stocked with five tons of relief supplies for Nepal, which suffered from a 7.8 magnitude earthquake April 25.

It’s still more than a year before the Airbus delivery center at the Mobile Aeroplex will turn over the very first Mobile-built jetliners to JetBlue, its first customer. But when it happens it will be historic.

“We work with our customers to make their delivery pleasant, efficient, and fun, whatever they’d like to get out of the process,” said Airbus spokeswoman Kristi Tucker.

“I can promise you, the first delivery from Mobile will be an event, for us and for the customer.”— Kristi Tucker, Airbus

That might be just a tad of an understatement. No matter what the specifics might be, the delivery of the first Airbus figuratively stamped “made in America” will go down in history as a significant milestone in aviation history with both Boeing and Airbus building jetliners in the United States.

The new Mobile delivery center will be the fourth operated by the company. Others are in Toulouse, France; Hamburg, Germany; and Tianjin, China.

The delivery center is just one part of the $600 million, 116-acre Airbus campus at the Mobile Aeroplex at Brookley. It includes 53 acres of aprons, roadways and buildings, including the final assembly line that will assemble the A319, A320 and A321 jetliners.

The plant will build up to 50 jetliners a year, but that may go up as Airbus ponders a 26 percent increase in production companywide.

Major sections for the first U.S.-built jetliner, including the fuselage sections, vertical tail, wings and more, left Hamburg, Germany, May 29 for a 20-day voyage to Mobile. Those sections will be joined together to make the first aircraft, an A321ceo.

It will be in April of 2016 before the plane, which has a list price of $113.7 million, is parked at the delivery center.

Longer than a football field, the delivery center includes parking spots for five A320s, offices, workshops and documentation rooms. The number of people who will be at the delivery will vary from customer to customer.

“At the very least there are contracts people who are completing the process and their flight crews must come since they are the ones who fly the plane once delivery paperwork is complete,” says Tucker.

Details for the JetBlue delivery will be worked out as the time to turn the plane over to the new owners gets near.

Condensed from Chapter I, Gulf Coast Aerospace Corridor 2015-2016. To see the complete chapter, go to: http://www.gulfcoastaerospacecorridor.com/files/chapter_1_2015_053115.pdf

Gulf_Coast_Aerospace_Corridor.com is a website created in 2008 to highlight aerospace activities along the Interstate 10 corridor between New Orleans and Northwest Florida. It includes reference material, job postings, a daily aerospace newsfeed and weekly column. In 2011, the website teamed with several journalists to create the Gulf Coast Reporters’ League, which writes and publishes an annual book about aerospace in the region. The first book was published in June 2011. In September 2013, the League launched an eight-page quarterly aerospace newsletter, which became a bimonthly in August 2014 after the League published the fourth edition of the annual.

All the books can be found at: www.gulfcoastaerospacecorridor.com/gcacbooksall.html and all the newsletters can be found at www.gulfcoastaerospacecorridor.com/gcacnewslettersall.html