On Monday, the European aircraft-maker Airbus conducted its first test flight of the American-made A321 from the Mobile Aeroplex at Brookley. The plane was built at Airbus’s U.S. Manufacturing Facility in Mobile, which is slated to build between 40 and 50 aircrafts a year by 2018.
The flight took off around 9:30 a.m. and returned safely to the ground just after 1 p.m.
During the more than three hour flight, test pilots Mark McCullins and Bruce Macdonald conducted a series of exams on the jet’s “systems, engines and structure performance,” according to a press release from Airbus.
“We’ve come to an exciting milestone in the production of any aircraft, but this one is particularly special,” Daryl Taylor, Vice President and General Manager of the Airbus U.S. Manufacturing Facility, said in the release. “The Mobile team has worked hard, and I’m proud that their skill and talent have brought us to this moment. Together we are fulfilling the promise we made to the city of Mobile, the state of Alabama, and the Gulf Coast region—we’re creating a new center of commercial aircraft production in the U.S. This is just the first of many aircraft to come.”
After its initial test flight, the aircraft will spend a few more weeks in final production before being delivered to JetBlue.
“It is a major milestone in the history of aviation manufacturing in Alabama to see the first Airbus aircraft produced in Mobile to schedule its first test flight,” Gov. Robert Bentley said in a statement released Monday. “This test flight is standard procedure before delivering an aircraft to a customer. Aerospace and aviation industries are extremely important to Alabama, and it is exciting to know soon JetBlue will receive its first A321 proudly Made In Alabama.”
The plane is the largest in Airbus’s A320 family and will provide passengers with a “state-of-the-art cabin design, wider seats and superior comfort whilst airlines benefit from the unique operational flexibility of Airbus’ single-aisle aircraft.”