On the floor of the Airbus Final Assembly Line in Mobile, Alabama

Airbus places focus on people at first production site in America


Lean Into Aviation (3)MOBILE: “If we are just looking at [the cost] of people we should probably locate the assembly line in Mexico.” That is the story Airbus CEO Fabrice Brégier offered up in front of the media as part of a ceremony inaugurating the airframer’s first US final assembly line in Mobile, Alabama.

In short, there might be cheaper places to get the work done, but there is something about being in Mobile which makes it the smart place for Airbus to do business.

Airbus needs a steady supply of employees with experience and training in manufacturing, and Mobile offers that, along with a deep water port less than five miles from the facility.

Mobile’s mayor, Sandy Stimpson, spoke to the quality of the workforce his city and the region is able to provide to Airbus. “They knew that we have a workforce here that has a history of being very productive, of being very quality-conscious,” he said.

Much of that workforce comes with a military background, including many with specific aviation experience, an advantage when it comes to integrating into the Airbus environment. Some of the approximately 200 new hires for Airbus have already been to facilities in Europe for training and their experience was well received as they were brought in to doing things the Airbus way.

The workforce integration extends well beyond the existing group already hired. Stimpson is excited by the prospects of growth for the facility and the employment prospects in his city.

Airbus could hire up to 1,000 direct employees if it expands the manufacturing to eight frames per month (four/month is planned by late 2017).

There is also optimism that additional aerospace-related companies will arrive and grow the Alabama aviation area. To that end Mayor Stimpson noted that Airbus and the local vocational groups are working together to ensure that a capable and competent workforce is ready to fill those jobs.

“The Alabama Industrial Development Training group is VERY engaged… They are transforming the community college to make sure to really helps to focus and train the workforce for Airbus,” he said.