Last September, Airbus officially launched its new North American aircraft assembly plant in Mobile, Alabama, joining final assembly lines located in France, Germany, Spain and China. The first aircraft produced at the facility, an A321 that will join JetBlue's fleet, has now flown for the first time in the skies over Mobile.
The maiden flight took place on Monday, with the aircraft taking off from the Mobile Aeroplex at 9:35 am. At the controls were Test Pilots Mark McCullins and Bruce Macdonald, with Flight Test Engineers Thierry Cros and Nick Picconi and Ground Test Engineers/Cabin Specialists Alexander Gentzsch and Mike Johns also on board.
During the flight, the team conducted numerous tests on aircraft systems, engines and structure performance, before touching down safely 3 hours and 26 minutes after take off at 1:02 pm. Tests will continue for a few more weeks before the the aircraft is delivered to JetBlue.
The 53-acre (21-ha) Airbus U.S. Manufacturing Facility in Mobile will produce A319, A320, and A321 aircraft, with Airbus anticipating between 40 and 50 aircraft to be produced there each year by 2018, the majority of which will be supplied to North American airlines.