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Airbus says US factory will be world's most efficient
[Mobile, ALABAMA] Airbus Group said on Sunday that its first US factory, due to formally open on Monday, will be the most efficient in the world and capable of producing up to eight jetliners a month by 2018.
The elegant, skylit factory on 116 acres here is a potent threat to rival Boeing Co. Both companies now make 42 single-aisle planes a month and plan to ramp output up sharply in the next few years to fill back orders for new planes.
Boeing makes its competing 737 jetliner at a single factory in Renton, Washington, and plans to lift the rate to 52 a month in 2018. Airbus, with facilities in Germany, France and China, plans to lift production to 50 a month.
The new US plant will start out producing four a month, and gives Airbus the ability to go higher simply by adding additional shifts of workers, Airbus officials said on Sunday. "We can go to eight with very little adjustment," said Timo Zaremba, product quality manager for the US factory.
The US presence also gives Airbus a strong card to play in selling to US airlines. Already Airbus' current backlog will double its US market share to 40 percent. The Mobile plant will supply North American airlines, with the first two going to JetBlue Airways Crop and American Airlines Group starting in the second quarter of 2016.
Airbus said it introduced several efficient techniques in the new factory, after taking the best ideas from its existing plants. Among them: a machine that automatically installs the 2,400 rivets used to attach wings to the fuselage. Those improvements will be copied by the earlier factories.
The Airbus factory will also be the first in the United States to be certified by the European Aviation Safety Agency, not its US counterpart, the Federal Aviation Administration.