Airbus Group said on Tuesday it plans to start production at its first U.S. factory with the larger A321 jetliner instead of the A320 as originally planned, a move that reflects rising demand for the bigger jet.
Airbus Americas President Barry Eccleston told an audience in Seattle that the European aircraft maker was switching the plans for the plant in Mobile, Alabama, to accommodate growth in orders for the larger plane.
The first one off the line will be the A321ceo, or “current engine option” in April 2016, with “new engine option” or A321neos, to follow later, he said, according to the company.
In the year through September, Airbus has booked 311 gross orders for the A321, including 135 with the current engine option and 176 for the A321neo with newer engines.
The A321 seats about 185 passengers in a two-class configuration but can accommodate up to 220 for economy carriers.
The plane is a rival to the Boeing 737-900 and 737 MAX.
Airlines have been improving their efficiency by “upgauging” to larger jets that accommodate more people, which lowers the per-seat cost.
Airbus first assembly line on U.S. soil at Mobile Aeroplex, is expected to figure prominently in the company’s ability to efficiently fill the mounting backlog for the popular single-aisle aircraft. The $600 million facility is slated to come online in 2015, deliver its first Mobile-assembled aircraft the following year and employ about 1,000 people when it reaches full annual production of 40 to 50 aircraft by 2018.
The aircraft manufacturer is still actively seeking candidates for the following positions:
Human resource business partner
Paint quality inspector
Business systems analyst
Flight test and ground test engineers
Liaison systems engineers