On Monday, Airbus and state and local government officials held a community event at Bishop State Community College outlining Airbus’s massive expansion at its Mobile facility. The addition of a third final assembly line at the company’s Brookley Aeroplex facility will create another 1,000 jobs in the Mobile area.
Airbus has announced plans to increase production of its A320 Family of single-aisle passenger aircraft. The new 350,000 square-foot final assembly line in Mobile is part of those plans.
“The fact that Mobile will lead our unprecedented global production rate increase in coming years is a tribute to the world-class labor force in Alabama,” said C. Jeffrey Knittel, chairman and CEO of Airbus Americas.
“I’m so proud of our Mobile employees for proving through years of hard work what Alabama is capable of, and I’m also immensely grateful to state leadership for making Alabama such a great place to invest and do business.”
Greg Canfield, the Secretary of the Alabama Department of Commerce, said that the state’s aerospace/aviation industry is primed for growth. During 2021, companies within the sector announced new investments totaling $220 million in projects expected to create 667 jobs, Commerce data indicate.
“Aerospace industry growth continues to be a high-value opportunity for Alabama, not only in terms of capital investment but also in job creation,” said Canfield. “There are a lot of exciting things going on in aerospace and aviation in the state, and we’re seeing that today with the expansion at Airbus.”
Ed Castile is the director of AIDT, a division of the Alabama Department of Commerce that provides customized technical training programs at no cost to employers and to the trainees.
Castile explained that in order to facilitate Airbus’ ambitious hiring plans, Alabama workforce development and education organizations are collaborating on new recruitment and training initiatives to build out the jobs pipeline.
“Airbus has been an extraordinary partner as we work together daily to help change people’s lives,” said Castile. “Airbus provides incredible career opportunities, and we have the awesome opportunity to help them find their team and assist with training.”
Castile said that AIDT plans to expand its Aviation Training Center at the Mobile Aeroplex at Brookley, a 36,500-square-foot facility that opened in 2014 specifically to help Airbus get production up and running.
Alabama Governor Kay Ivey lauded the expansion.
“It’s wonderful to see Airbus continue to grow its only U.S. airliner manufacturing operation with another expansion in Mobile,” Ivey said. “This growth is made possible by the company’s skilled workforce in Alabama and our commitment to developing a pipeline of future aerospace workers.”
David Rodgers is the vice president of economic development at the Mobile Area Chamber of Commerce.
“Mobile is quickly becoming a global epicenter for the aerospace industry, and the addition of a third final assembly line in Mobile is a testament to our area’s workforce,” said Rodgers.
During Monday’s event at Bishop State Community College, Airbus outlined its plan to ramp up production of aircraft. The additional final assembly line will add 1,000 new jobs over the next several years to its workforce at the Mobile manufacturing facility. Around 1,200 workers are already employed by Airbus in Mobile.
Airbus has already invested over $1 billion in its Alabama manufacturing facility.
Economic developer Dr. Nicole Jones told 1819 News, “Airbus is a global pioneer in aerospace and aviation. The company has announced a series of expansions over the years that have shown the world how Alabama is a leader in the industry and, specifically, in the production of commercial aircraft. This is a testament to teamwork, strategic partnerships and workforce development efforts between the public and private sector. Alabama’s business climate is conducive for growth.”
Castile said that AIDT is also expanding apprenticeship programs and supporting Airbus training initiatives at Flight Works Alabama, including FlightPath9, We Build It Better and aviation dual enrollment at area schools.
Flight Works Alabama is an aerospace education center located near the Airbus facility that aims to inspire future aviation workers across the Mobile region. The 15,000-square-foot facility features more than 40 high-tech exhibits. It opened in August 2020. Flight Works also directs the FlightPath9 program that targets high school seniors in the Mobile community with a desire to work in aerospace. We Build It Better is an innovative learning program that provides classroom kits and interactive techniques designed to help instructors expand students’ creative capacity and encourage discoveries.
“We see Airbus as the ‘tip of the spear’ with its Alabama location and its continued growth as a powerful catalyst for an expansion of the aerospace industry in our state,” said Castile. “This Airbus expansion simply highlights that Alabama is open for business and a great place to work and raise a family.”
Airbus produced the first Alabama-built A320 aircraft in 2015, during the administration of Gov. Robert Bentley (R). In 2019, it launched production of the A220 single-aisle passenger jet in Mobile with its own dedicated second final assembly line.
To connect with the author of this story, or to comment, email brandon.moseley@1819News.com.
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