Good news for Belfast as production of A220 aircraft is stepped up
Airbus says it plans to ramp up production of the A220 aircraft series after a record breaking year, generating more work for Bombardier's Belfast plant, where the wings are made.
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The European aerospace giant has produced 20 A220s since acquiring a majority stake in the planes from Bombardier in July.
That compares with the 13 jets produced in the first six months of 2018 under the Canadian manufacturer and 17 in the whole of 2017.
Airbus confirmed that work has already started to increase the capacity of its current assembly facility for the A220 in Mirabel, Canada.
Work is also due to start towards the end of the year on a new delivery centre at the Canadian plant.
And Airbus is starting construction today on its new assembly facility in Mobile, Alabama, which will fulfil orders for US airlines Delta, Jet Blue and Moxy.
Florent Massou, who heads up the A220 programme, said the plans will sustain the step-up in production and meet customer demand.
"These are major investments we will carry out this year at Mirabel to sustain our growth and to give us all the enablers that will be necessary to continue the ramp up of the A220 in Mirabel," he said.
"We need to expedite the base of all processes here in Mirabel."
Airbus currently has orders for 537 A220s from 19 different operators.
On the 20 jets produced since July, Mr Massou described it as "a very demanding but also outstanding ramp-up compared to other programmes".
He added: "It shows the magnitude of the ramp-up we are going through. The ramp-up is not over and we continue to grow."
Meanwhile, Airbus has been granted new certification in Canada to fly unconstrained routes over water. The company said on Monday that it had received 180-minute extended operations approval from the Canadian civil aviation authority, Transport Canada.
"This achievement paves the way for A220 customers to start new direct non-limiting routings over water, remote or underserved regions," it said.