As of March 21, 2016, the first airplane manufactured at Airbus’ manufacturing facility in Mobile, Alabama took its maiden flight. The Airbus A321 took off at 9:36 AM, flying for 3 hours 26 minutes before landing back in Mobile at 1:02 PM.
“We’ve come to an exciting milestone in the production of any aircraft, but this one is particularly special,” stated Vice President and General Manager of the Airbus U.S. Manufacturing Facility Daryl Taylor. “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.”
The flight was operated by Airbus Test Pilots Mark McCullins and Bruce Macdonald, along with Flight Test Engineers Thierry Cros and Nick Picconi. Ground Test Engineers and Cabin Specialists Alexander Gentzsch and Mike Johns also accompanied them during the flight. Standard test flight procedures include testing aircraft systems, structure performance, and engines.
The largest member of the A320 Family, the A321 has a range of 7,400 km, or nearly 4,600 miles, enabling airlines to fly longer routes. The A321 will be delivered to JetBlue after undergoing a few more weeks of final production, according to Airbus.