Source: RYTIS BERESNEVICIUS via aerotime.aero
Some call Airbus a primarily French company. And there is some truth to that – after all, the manufacturer’s main airport and assembly site are located in Toulouse, France (TLS). TLS is also home to the departure destination of many Airbus’ test flights, including the first one it ever has done, when the Airbus A300 took off on its maiden voyage into the skies in 1972. At the same time, Airbus is a multi-national company in every sense of the word, as Europe is not the only continent where aircraft, named using the A3XX formula, are assembled and shipped off to customers. Plants in Mirabel, Quebec, Canada, Mobile, Alabama, United States and Tianjin, China are all the second home of Airbus. However, what does each individual plant do and manufacture? Airbus A300 and A310
The first Airbus aircraft that started it all, the A300 and its little brother, the A310, were assembled in Toulouse, France. Different components had to be shipped or brought in using lorries, taking up too much time for the company to complete an aircraft. A solution was found to bring aircraft parts using another aircraft – a Boeing 377 Stratocruiser-based Aero Spacelines Super Guppy. From that point forward, Airbus brought in parts using three channels – air, road and water. The starting point of the A300 parts was several locations across Europe: Its wings were built in the United Kingdom, by a company called Hawker Siddeley. The aircraft’s aft and forward sections of the fuselage were constructed in Germany and the tail was constructed by engineers in Spain. General Electric provided the GE CF6, while Pratt & Whitney gave the PW JT9D and PW4000 engines as options to power the first Airbus aircraft. Both General Electric and Pratt & Whitney are located in the United States. The A300 was completed in Airbus’ Final Assembly Line (FAL) in Toulouse, France. Rest of the family As time went on and the European aircraft manufacturer designed its next jet, the A320, its popularity amongst airlines pushed Airbus into opening a new FAL in Hamburg, Germany. The first aircraft that rolled out of the plant in Germany was Manufacturer Serial Number (MSN) 364 A321 in 1993 and was used as a testbed. In 1998, Airbus delivered the same MSN 364 frame to Onur Air, a Turkish operator that still flies the aircraft to this day, registered TC-ONS. However, most of the final assembly is still based in Toulouse, France. Wide-body aircraft, namely the A330, A350 and A380 are completed in the French city. Narrow-body aircraft are assembled in Mobile (A220 and A320), Mirabel (A220) and Tianjin (A320) in addition to two plants in Europe, located in Toulouse and Hamburg. ARTICLE: Airbus and China shake hands to increase A320 and A350 production But production sites, where parts are made, are scattered across Europe. For example, in Germany, there are four different plants: In Hamburg, in addition to the final assembly of the A320, the manufacturer also equips and completes A380 fuselage sections, including cabin furnishing and painting of the Super Jumbo. Rear fuselage sections of the A330 and A350 are also manufacturer and equipped in North Germany. Bremen is one of the two plants responsible for wing design and manufacturing in Airbus’ eco-system. In the German city, high-lift systems for wings is designed and manufactured for all Airbus aircraft. Stade is home to another Airbus factory, where vertical tailplanes for every product on the manufacturer’s list is produced. Carbon fiber reinforced plastic (CFRP) parts, like flaps or spoilers for such aircraft as the A320 or the A330 are also manufactured here, including pressure bulkheads for the A330 and A380 and the upper wing shell for the A350.