Airbus begins construction of new A220 facilities
With the majority acquisition of the Bombardier CSeries, which is now known as the Airbus A220, Airbus has been working with Bombardier engineers to determine the problems with the production of the type and has since come up with an extensive list of things to do.
Currently the A220 is manufactured in the same buildings as the Bombardier CRJ is built in Mirabel, causing issues with space, parts organisation and roll-out. Before Airbus took over the A220 program in July, Bombardier was keen on building 90-120 of the aircraft per year, however it was clear from the beginning that large changes would be required if that goal was to be achieved.
Now that the issues have been assessed, Airbus has confirmed construction of two new buildings at the Mirabel facility has commenced, enabling an increase in production once complete. The buildings, which Airbus are calling dome structures, are set to be completed by Spring 2019.
Looking at current figures, Bombardier only delivered 17 of the aircraft in 2017, with 2018 seeing just over 25 so far. Once complete and all tooling is set up in the new buildings, Airbus expects a steady rate of production to be achieved with a ramp up expected shortly after.
With Delta recently introducing the first of their 75 A220s into their fleet and airlines such as Air Canada and JetBlue set to receive them in the near future, Airbus is moving forward with their plans to include the A220 to their Mobile facility in Alabama, which currently builds A320 Family aircraft. Soil is expected to be turned for new assembly halls in early 2019 for the Mobile site, with full scale production to commence a few years after.
As Airbus continues to work with Bombardier in ensuring the aircraft remains competitive and efficient to produce, the greater output means more production slots will be available sooner, unlocking the potential for new orders. The announcement of the new facilities this soon after the acquisition outlines Airbus’ commitment to the type, which compared to before the purchase, told various airlines the A320 Family was the better option.
402 orders is a substantial backlog for an aircraft of this category and this backlog can only be maintained in both production and new orders if Airbus can get the aircraft to airlines on time.