Airbus deliveries first USA-made A321ceo, to JetBlue

JBLU A321 BluesMobile

The first Airbus A321ceo assembled at the Mobile (AL) plant was delivered today to jetBlue. Photo from Airways News via Twitter.

April 25, 2016: The first Airbus A320 family aircraft assembled at the Airbus Mobile (AL) plant was delivered today to jetBlue. The A321ceo, which the airline named BluesMobile, is the first of 10 A321s now in production at the plant. Eight more A321s will be delivered to American Airlines. Spirit Airlines gets the 10th.

Airbus will assemble four A320s a month here by next year, with a capacity for 8/mo.

The delivery marks a milestone for US aerospace. Ever since McDonnell Douglas ceased building commercial airliners after Boeing stopped production of the MD-11 and MD-95/Boeing 717, Boeing has been the only commercial airplane producer in the US. Airbus last year spent $16bn with 400 US suppliers and expects to increase this to $20bn with 500 suppliers in the coming years, said John Leahy, chief operating officer customers for Airbus. The Mobile plant will drive some of this growth.

45 Comments on “Airbus deliveries first USA-made A321ceo, to JetBlue

    • Why?

      It’s probably worse news to aerospace workers in France and Germany, as Airbus steps up their investment in the USA.

  1. This is a Trojan Horse and what we witness today is the first soldier creeping out of the beast. And the irony is that the gift actually comes from Boeing. Remember the Tanker competition that Airbus finally lost? The Mobile facility that Airbus had opened to assemble those aircraft is now being used to assemble the A320 family. It’s the Normandy Invasion in reverse, except that the Germans and the French are now united against the USA. Again, this is ironic. Is it not?

    • Revisionist history? Airbus did not build a Mobile facility in anticipation of winning the tanker competition. They proposed to build one, if they won the contract.

      Even if they had won the tanker, that would not have precluded them from assembling A320s in Mobile. A US built A320 poses no greater threat to Boeing, than an A320 built anywhere else.

      The Germans and French are not uniting against the USA. Airbus buys $16.5 billion in components from American aerospace suppliers each year.

      Airbus came to Alabama after an aggressive campaign by the state to lure new factories, with generous tax breaks, and other incentives. Just like Mercedes, Honda, Hyundai and Toyota did.

      Setting up shop in the US creates a natural hedge against exchange-rate swings between the euro and the dollar, and labor costs are substantially lower compared with Europe.

      • Indeed Airbus never built the factory to assemble the KC-45, but they opened shop in Alabama in anticipation of doing so, because their proposal had a very good chance of being selected because that was the aircraft the Air Force wanted at the time. In doing so they signalled that their intention to fabricate the tankers in the USA was serious. Now that doesn’t mean that the A320 was not already factored in this decision. I just don’t know. The fact is that the A320 was already fabricated in three different countries. But it takes what it takes to subdue the enemy. And in case you haven’t realized it yet this is a war. Just ask Bombardier. But the Americans prefer to call it the Sporty Game.

        • It’s war between Boeing and Airbus, not between France and Germany, and the USA.

          • You are absolutely right Rick. I thought this was understood by everyone. Like for the Trojan Horse the argument was only used as a metaphor. And wether it’s a war or a sporty game makes little difference. Either way Boeing is now on the losing side. But what the USA will lose from Boeing it will gain back from Airbus. Alabama or Washington makes no difference in the overall picture.

          • Norman: The A330MRT was not what the Air Force wanted, that was clearly started in the RFP, that was a KC-135 replacement.

            What occurred was AF brass got big eyes, the bigger the better as far as they are concerned, they then violated the RFP to give the contract to Airbus (or NG or depends on which rev of the bid we are talking about)

            If the AF wanted an A330 sized aircraft, they should have created an RFP and convinced congress that was what was needed.

            Neither occurred

          • Dear Transworld,
            It is obvious that the US Air Force needs a replacement for its KC-135 tankers. Due to different operation modes for a KC aircraft, it is not so obvious to me that the tanker in question must have the same size. E.g. the capability to use the complete main deck for freight.

            Why the generals did not ask for a competition according to value and instead used a lowest price offer is obvious. Generals need a good link to the right persons to get the good jobs after leaving the army.

          • “Why the generals did not ask for a competition according to value and instead used a lowest price offer is obvious. Generals need a good link to the right persons to get the good jobs after leaving the army.” First-off, the generals in question here would be leaving the Air Force, not the Army 🙂 Beyond that, while adhering to procurement rules may be more honored in the breech, ostensibly procurement is supposed to be made by objective standards. Certainly price is (on its face at least) easily enough evaluated and quantified. How one would go about objectively quantifying “value” would be something of a challenge.

      • Looking at the cost over runs by Boeing, going with a US built already existing European design would now seem sensible. Maybe time for the US to understand co-operation is better than conflict.

        • The KC-45 final design is most likely quite different from the A330 MRTT built now not meeting all USAF spec’s for a military Aircraft. Most likely Airbus would have seen similar delays and cost increases building a unique A330 MRTT version in a new plant with new staff in a new country.

          • Similar delays according to what specific? The refueling system is according to US specifications and fully operational today. The basic aircraft existed and is not a new subtype like the 767-2C with the need of FAA certifications. These are the big problems Boeing has today: aircraft and refueling system.

          • “The basic aircraft existed and is not a new subtype like the 767-2C with the need of FAA certifications.”

            The A330MRTT doesn’t currently meet the USAF KC-X specs. For example, the A330MRTT can’t handle 96″ high 463L pallets, doesn’t have sufficient ballistic protection, and doesn’t have provisions for the “special” gear that requires miles and miles of additional wiring at the proper separation. Airbus would have to FAA certify a variant of the A330F that has these mods just like Boeing had to certify the 767-2C. Like @claes suggests, Airbus would have plenty of opportunities to screw that up, not that they would for sure, but they certainly could.

  2. Hey, you’re the one who wrote:

    It’s the Normandy Invasion in reverse, except that the Germans and the French are now united against the USA.

    Your metaphor didn’t work. You keep making dubious comments, only to have to walk them back.

    • I hope your reply is not a declaration of war… Perhaps you need me to explain the metaphor. As the founding members Germany and France represent Airbus while the USA represents Boeing. That’s all there is to it. Alabama-Trojan Horse-Invasion-Normandy, do you get it? If you still can’t see the metaphor just take it as a joke. And if the joke offended you please accept my apology.

  3. So what’s involved in the “assembly” of an A321ceo in Mobile? What comes already assembled and what’s left to be assembled by the Alabamanians? Are the Alabamanians cheaper than the French and German assemblers?

    • In this kind of situation at the beginning of a programme the new facility will often only assemble what is manufactured far away. But gradually there will be a continuously increasing local content until an equilibrium will be reached. For now we can only say that the A320 is assembled in the USA. But as more and more contracts are given to american companies we will eventually be able to say that the aircraft is manufactured, as opposed to merely assembled, in the USA. Of course there will always be parts and components coming from other countries but this is also the case at Boeing on any aircraft model or type. Anyway, wherever Airbus aircraft are manufactured there will always be a large percentage of american parts and components. Just take a look at the C Series supplie list for example; the vast majority are coming from the USA. Airbus may now be the equal of Boeing but a company like Safran for example is considerably smaller than United Technologies. And in addition to that many overseas suppliers are well established in the USA, like Zodiac for example; while in Toulouse one can find all kinds of american suppliers.

    • The Alabamians are MUCH cheaper than the French and Germans. In addition, since American’s make so many components of the A320, shipping distances are shorter.

      • I suspect that most of those components get shipped to France, Germany and the UK first, where they are installed into their assemblies, before being shipped back to whichever Final Assembly Line they are destined for.

        Unless it is something like the powerplants.

  4. Your original post contained three major errors.

    The first, is that Airbus opened a facility in Mobile to assemble the tanker. They did not.

    Then you went on to imply, that if Airbus had won the tanker competition, there would be no A320 assembly in Mobile. A dubious assumption, at best.

    Finally, the thing you call a “metaphor” that was based on faulty reasoning, and now has morphed into a joke.

    If pointing out these mistakes offends you, please accept my apology.

  5. Well it is a pretty severely mauled missive (not sure I would even call it a metaphor).

    So, the Greeks take on the Hitites, ie.. invaded. Got it.

    Then they sit around and talk a lot and fight some,

    Not being able to bust into Troy they sneak in via a wooden horse.

    As Alabama welcomed Airbus I don’t see that as an invasions (some of us gritted our teeth some but as time goes by I re-tract my views and think it would have been good to see A330NEO built here as well)

    Mostly I hate the state back stabbing that is going on with tax breaks.

    No one snuck in anything so I don’t see that as a wooden horse of any kind.

    I think the metaphor has become a pancake (get it, fell flat?)

    • “As Alabama welcomed Airbus I don’t see that as an invasion.”

      I take it as a direct attack on Boeing’s last bastion: the USA.

      • Best defense is a good offense. If Boeing had a narrowbody that didn’t have its roots in the 1960s, the A320 family wouldn’t be kicking the cr&p out of it. To the extent that Boeing is in trouble in this regard (and not everyone believes it is) it is entirely Boeing’s fault, and no one else.

        • “To the extent that Boeing is in trouble in this regard (and not everyone believes it is) it is entirely Boeing’s fault, and no one else.”

          Indeed, not everyone believes it is; but the wakeup call is not very far on the temporal horizon. In regards to the 737 obsolescence Boeing now finds itself in zugzwang. For those who don’t play chess zugzwang is the position a player finds himself in, usually towards the end of a game, when it is time for him to make a move because it is his turn to play; but his position is such that whatever move he makes will inevitably worsen his position; but he still has to make a move, otherwise he will automatically lose the game. That is what I meant above when I said that this was a situation where “you are damn if you do and damn if you don’t.” As everyone now recognizes, including myself, the problem for Boeing is that there are no new technologies that would offer such an advantage as to make any competing aircraft obsolete. That was the trick used by Boeing in the past when it introduced the 707, the 727 and the 747; all in less than 15 years.

          Boeing is certainly more capable than Bombardier but it cannot develop a narrowbody aircraft that would be significantly better than the C Series, only bigger. But it would still have to face the A320neo family without being able to offer an advantage to the buyer that would offset the necessarily stiffer price tag. As we have discovered recently that is the situation Bombardier finds itself in with the C Series. It cannot compete with Boeing and Airbus on price because the 737 and A320 have long been fully amortized and are produced in large numbers. It would be more or less the same for Boeing because the C Series family, let alone the A320neo family, would necessarily be cheaper than any NSA could ever be. I think that the situation would have been less dramatic if Boeing had been more proactive. Like always it’s the short-term priorities versus the long-term ones; i.e., stock performance versus aircraft development. Stocks are volatile while good aircraft designs can generate revenues for decades. I still believe that the best timing would have been when Airbus launched the neo, or earlier, as soon as the GTF became available. It might be too late now. Or too early, if you take the technology position. But how long can Boeing last with an obsolete 737, a compromised 787 and an aging 777? Which begs the following question: Is there a pilot flying this thing? The obvious answer is yes, Wall street is at the controls.

          • Increased jet fuel prices and a close to certified UDF are requirements for a new narrowbody. The EU are sponsoring different demonstrators from Snecma and RR and as they are tested and weight/cost reduced it can be time for a A320replacement announcement around 2021 Paris air Show

          • “Increased jet fuel prices and a close to certified UDF are requirements for a new narrowbody.”

            I agree. But no one can predict with any degree of certainty where fuel prices will be in ten years from now. As for the UDF I don’t think it can be selected for the next generation of narrowbody aircraft before the 737 order book runs dry.

      • I take it as a direct attack on Boeing’s last bastion: the USA.

        So Airbus, creating jobs in the US, rather than in France and Germany, is a “direct attack” on the USA? It sounds more like it benefit the USA, at the expense of European jobs, to me.

        Likewise, Boeing has suppliers outside the USA. Is the Alenia 787 facility in Italy, a direct attack on the EU? Hardly. It’s a welcome addition to the aerospace industry.

        I’m sure the Japanese don’t regard the 787 facilities in Japan as a “direct attack,” but as a benefit to the economy.

        You’re reasoning is rather childish.

        • The attack is not on the USA as a country, but on the USA as a market. And Boeing happens to own that market. That is what “direct attack on Boeing’s last bastion: the USA” means.

      • In the end Boeing and Airbus need to build good planes at a reasonable price. Borders won’t protect you in this global market.
        If either Boeing or Airbus have a bad performing plane, they need to do sth.
        In the end this results in better products which helps against the real, dangerous rivals (thinking longterm), which are building up in Asia.

        I think it’s dangerous of establish a product assembly line there and show them – directly in front of their house – how it’s done.

  6. “The A321ceo, which the airline named BluesMobile” As I recall, the BluesMobile did not come to a pleasant end. Still, will the Captains be coming on the intercom at the beginning of the flight to say “It’s 1006 miles to Chicago, we’ve got a full tank of gas, half a pack of cigarettes, it’s dark and we’re wearing sunglasses.” to which the First Officer will respond with “Hit it!” and they shove the throttles forward for takeoff?-)

    • I hope so. And with the PA mic open for everyone in the cabin to enjoy!

  7. With the Alabama assembly plant Airbus now have capacity for 63 narrow body planes a month. Boeing have 63 narrow body capacity for 737 assembly in Renton . If you add the P8 poisedon line Boeing Renton have more capacity than all 4 Airbus line. Airbus can always expand Alabama and Tianjin line.

    • Where does it say the Boeing have capacity for 63 737 a month in Renton.?

      April 2015
      “The factory, already a showcase of efficiency with its two final-assembly lines churning out 42 of the single-aisle jets monthly, is gearing up by 2018 to build them at a prodigious pace of 52 a month — and later perhaps even more.”

      The P-8 has a production rate of 16 per year ( full rate) so 1.5 per month still doesnt make 63.

      There is speculation that with the 737 Max line reaching 21 per month , the two existing ones will be 21 each . When in fact the old 737 lines will fall in numbers

      • @dukeofurl: Boeing Renton plant has the capacity do build 63 737s a month: 21 per line, three lines, once the MAX is up and running. The P8 is actually in addition to this.

  8. I think for Boeing there is little relevance. Airbus has diversified its production chain to some extent, Boeing already has a quite diverse production chain. Airbus wins hearts and minds to some extent, hard to say the Airbus is French when a USA A321 has more US than French (direct) work share.

    The Alabamanian may be cheaper per hour than the German or French, but overall there seems to be little difference. It is not the cost of the man per hour, but the cost of the performed work, say productivity. Final Assembly Line is not so many work hours, quite a lot of quality assurance and stuff. So if the guy on the shop floor costs 30% less but produces a hick-up every other month, he is deeply red on the company radar. A mishap on the shop floor easily cost dozens of additional man hours in engineering and production. Boeing’s experience with new factories built on green field in “right to work” dreamlands has not been overly positive me thinks.

  9. Maybe Boeing should be bold and buy Bombardier. Airbus didn’t because they didn’t need the model, but Boeing does. Or maybe Airbus was going to buy it to stop Boeing buying it, but then didn’t because they decided Boeing didn’t have the balls, or the Canadian government didn’t want to see Bombardier as a short term fix for anybody, American or European, to be neutered and discarded later.

    • If Canada approves of such – the previous purchase and abandon practises of Boeing in Canada such as De Havilland and McDonald Douglas of Canada are not exactly encouraging.

      But in reality the biggest issue in such a purchase (as it is to the Canadian government when considering support) is the bizarre management structure of the company.

  10. What does capacity for 8 airplanes per month means?
    It means delivering of 40 % of the single aisle airplanes (100 – 220 seats) for the North American market till 2035 according to Airbus Global Market forecast.
    Not bad for Airbus….

  11. Maybe they’ll standardize this facility on A321NEO’s overtime to boost efficiency and reduce logistics.

    It’s amazing to see how specific Boeings 739/321 issue was predicted, even before NEO launch, and how incapable Boeing proved to pick up what was written on the wall.

    23 Aug 2010

    2 days later

    What a groupthink drama. Next time better spent 10k on Scott to switch on the light tubes and discuss what been ignore and say what needs to be said.

    • Randy: “737-900ER and A321 are about the same size – 180 passengers in a standard two-class configuration for the -900ER vs. 183 for the A321.”

      What an incredible disingenuous statment by Randy.

      The distance between the vertical centreline of the forward and aft entry doors on the 737-900/-9 and A321, is 27.89 m and 31.55 m, respectively; or a difference in length of 3.66 m.

      The current A321 has a reduced theoretical max capacity seating due to the number two door ahead of the wing, but still – the A321 being 3.66 m longer (i.e. between the centreline of the aft and fron doors), doesn’t mean that “the 737-900ER and A321 are about the same size”.

      Of course, with the new, optional exit-door configuration in which door 2 is removed and replaced by the double-overwing exit that’s in use on the A320, while door 3 is being moved aft, the A321neo will be able to carry the maximum certified capacity of 240 seats (i.e. 28″ pitch for all seats)

      The 737-9 cabin is only 5 frames longer than the 737-8 MAX 200 (i.e. 3 frames forward and 2 frames aft of the wing), which according to Boeing can seat 200 passengers; or 197 passengers in a Ryanair configuration; or 194 seats according to Kiran Rao at Airbus.

      Theoretically, therefore, the 737-9 could have another 3 rows ahead of the wing — since the 737-8 MAX 800 has around 13 rows ahead of the double-overwing exits, at a pitch of 30″ — but only one row additional, aft of the wing. Hence, the 737-9 maximium seating capacity is somewhere between 218 seats and 224 seats — depending, of course, on who you ask. Again. however, the 737-900/-9 and A321 ceo/neo are clearly not about the same size — as Randy was implying.

  12. Has Toulouse gone into meltdown? 9 x A350s on parking stands, 3 x A350s with delayed first flights. Still more with no fixed abode. The aircraft on stands appear to be awaiting cabin fit. Are the FF delays associated with the thrust reverser mod? Looks like the proverbial is about to hit the fan. It appears highly unlikely that the target 50 deliveries will be met in 2016 and I would venture that parts are arriving at a slower rate than the last couple of months as well suggesting the supply chain is being slowed a tad

    • Last week there were rumours Zodiac would be for sale, stock dropped over 50% over last 12 months. Boeing and Airbus are all over them (seats, interiors).

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