This week a dream came true!Print
It was a dream. A fantasy really. When I joined Airbus in 2005, the concept of making our commercial aircraft in the United States was talked about, but only quietly, in very closed door meetings. But then, in 2011, I was fortunate to be present when Tom Enders added a dose of reality to the fantasy, asking the Airbus Executive Committee to look at building the A320 Family here in the U.S.
When we broke ground for our newest engineering center in Mobile, Alabama in 2006, it was seen as a way to broaden our global engineering presence, and it launched a long, positive and ultimately very fruitful relationship with government and community leaders in the Gulf Coast region. I was there when we announced in 2012 that we would be bringing our manufacturing business to Mobile. I was there when we broke ground in 2013. I was there when our first aircraft from Mobile took flight for the first time on March 21 of this year. On each of those landmark days there were figurative and literal cheers from the industry and the Alabama community. On the latest occasion, there were cheerleaders.
On April 25, 2016, we once again gathered in Mobile, to deliver our very first U.S.-built aircraft, an A321ceo, to long-time customer jetBlue. It was a day of celebration, short on speeches and long on pats on the back. The Airbus team had worked together across continents to plan, develop, build and operate the newest state-of-the-art aircraft manufacturing plant in the world. And it is here, finally, in the United States. To emphasize the importance of the ‘team’ aspect of the event, a local university sent its marching band and cheerleaders for the ceremony. Our entire Mobile assembly team, hundreds of Airbus men and women wearing Airbus team jerseys, escorted the A321 across the airfield to present the fruits of their labor to jetBlue. The word ‘pride’ was the most commonly spoken by Team Airbus members that day. I’m still smiling as I write this, several days later.
The Mobile facility allows Airbus to manufacture aircraft around the world, 24 hours a day – giving birth to the adage “The Sun Never Sets on Airbus”. For us, it’s an efficient and effective way to do business. For Mobile, it means a massive boost to a region with a struggling, but now recovering economy. For our U.S. customers, it means their aircraft will increasingly be “Made in the U.S.A.” And we couldn’t be prouder.
President – Airbus Americas.