In 2012, after considering 70 sites in 32 states, Airbus chose the Brookley Aeroplex in Mobile, Alabama, to assemble its A320 airliners. The decision would make Airbus the first new manufacturer of large commercial aircraft in the US in more than 40 years.
In an article for CNBC, Airbus Americas chairman Allan McArtor wrote, “The decision to construct a plant in this country represents the most significant, game-changing event in US aerospace in decades and is a positive step-change in the longstanding relationship between Airbus and US industry.”
Mott MacDonald was selected to provide program management services for the design and construction of the Airbus Final Assembly Line, in association with Hoar Program Management. The construction site has a net effective area of about 232 acres (94 hectares), with about 74 acres (30 hectares) occupied by the Final Assembly Line.
As the lead Design Manager, we oversaw all design aspects of the project, including procurement of design consultants, peer reviews of design submittals, and permitting assistance and oversight. We were also responsible for the Enabling Works design, a fast-track approach to preparing the site for construction.
A Project Manager was assigned to each of the following elements of the project, and was responsible for consultant selection, procurement, design management, and incremental construction oversight.
- Final Assembly Line, Service Building, Logistics Center
- Final Phase/Flightline Hangar, Gauging Hangar, Delivery Center
- Transshipment Hangar, Main Gate
- Site Surfaces, Utilities and Infrastructure
We were also responsible for the certified topographic survey, design of a permanent stormwater conveyance system, and a variety of permits.
The plant was designed to assemble and deliver up to four planes per month, and may be upgraded to produce as many as eight.
Breaking ground at the construction site in April 2013, Airbus CEO Fabrice Brégier said, “Building an A320 family assembly line in Mobile is truly groundbreaking for Airbus. Our customers need more aircraft that cut fuel burn, emissions and operating costs. With this assembly line we will be able to meet our customers’ needs at their doorstep, in addition to the worldwide demand for these efficient aircraft. When the line opens, we will be the only maker to assemble aircraft in Asia, Americas and Europe.”
The Airbus Final Assembly Line will help meet the needs of US airlines, which have some of the oldest fleets in the world. JetBlue was the first airline to receive the US-built A320s.
In April 2013, the Seattle Times wrote that the Airbus project “could help transform Alabama’s coast into an aerospace center.” In May 2013, Site Selection magazine named Airbus Mobile among its top US deals for 2012, and the Mobile Area Chamber of Commerce among its “Best to Invest” US economic development groups.
For more details, watch our animated renderings, an interview with Airbus CEO Fabrice Brégier, highlights from the project’s announcement event, and the erection of the final truss of the Final Assembly Line building.