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Airbus Launches A320 Designed for Alabama

Activity swarms around the Airbus A320 neo on Sept. 25, the day of its historic first flight from Toulouse-Blagnac Airport.

Activity swarms around the Airbus A320 neo on Sept. 25, the day of its historic first flight from Toulouse-Blagnac Airport.

Photo courtesy of Airbus

Airbus had a lot to celebrate in late September, with its first A320neo lifting off from Toulouse-Blagnac Airport France, its smart-looking wing sharklets slicing the skies.

Airbus Experimental Test Pilots Philippe Pellerin and Etienne Miche de Malleray flew the plane for the first time on Sept. 25. The aircraft started assembly in March of this year, followed by roll-out in July. Since then, it has undergone various checks and ground tests in preparation for the first flight. 

The new Airbus facility in Mobile will eventually build Airbus A319, A320 and A321 neo (new engine option) jetliners, but when it begins production in 2015 it will initially build the ceo (current engine option) versions. 

Airbus has enhanced its A320 Family with fuel-saving sharklets, the upturned wing tips that cut down on aerodynamic drag by helping reduce the spiral-shaped vortices that are formed at the wingtips of any aircraft during flight. According to company data, sharklets bring 4 percent savings in overall fuel consumption on long route sectors to A320 aircraft, while also improving takeoff performance and increasing payload by as much as 450 kg. 

The company continues to hire in south Alabama as it prepares to begin production, with a recent job listing seeking two test pilots “responsible for conducting all test flights associated with the production and acceptance of the aircraft, and ensuring the safety and efficiency of all flight test operations at the assembly line.”

For Airbus job descriptions and applications, go to aidt.edu/airbus.

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