Airbus A220 Pre-Final Assembly Line Production Update - Delivery Target Of 47 Aircraft In 2019 And 65 in 2020
Entry into service of the Mirabel A220 pre-FAL to spring/summer 2021
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9:00 EST (14:00 UTC) - November 21, 2019 - by Sylvain Faust for fliegerfaust.com
A year ago I released the information regarding the investment Airbus was about to make at their Mirabel, Quebec A220 facility. (Read: Airbus Investing - Increasing A220 Production - Thank You Airbus!). There was the idea of a "PRE-FAL" or pre-assembling of A220 aircraft components before entering the "final assembly line" (FAL) building.
"Change Is In The Air"
Airbus is no longer planning to have the said pre-FAL, as previously indicated.
But before we go on, let me elaborate on what I wrote yesterday regarding this immaculate white EgyptAir A220 departing for unknown pastures. If you're still not so sure about the destination, and as to why the airline prefers to remain incognito, I have a question for you: What do you know, exactly, about Air Sinai? Please, take a long hard look at the following video... Are you "enlightened" now?
Air Sinai - Booking on Egypt's Famous Secret, Faked and Phantom Airlines www.youtube.com
Back to Mirabel A220 PRE-FAL
First, take a long hard look at what I wrote exactly a year ago on the coming A220 pre-FAL at Airbus Mirabel:
As you read in my previous update, the current A220 production is not physically linear, as it involves so many aircraft movements toward its completion. The building added by Bombardier called FAL (final assembly line, the building just left of position D on the image) is where the bulk of the work of the assembly process happens. The main body components of the aircraft are attached together. One thing to know is that unlike a car assembly line, for example, aircraft are built from the "outside going in", like a house. If you look at a car assembly facility it is done the other way around, from the "inside going out", adding/attaching components on top of others starting with the frame of the vehicle.
On an aircraft assembly line the "outside" of the aircraft, its fuselage, is assembled, jointed together first and then most of the remaining work is done by adding layers of components "inside", to conclude with the carpets and the seats, much more like building a house, but a flying one!
Currently five (5) sections of the A220 aircraft are initially attached together in the FAL building, then the wing, the landing gears and engines later into another building. Presently those aircraft fuselage components are empty of any "interior" (wiring, tubing, electronics boxes, isolation, walls, floor, etc.). Those are installed further down the line after the aircraft is assembled. But all this will change.
This is not optimum but this is what Airbus inherited with the acquisition of the A220 assets.
If you care to look at how the A320 assembly line works, at Mobile, Alabama, for instance, that will give you some clues on what Airbus will be creating in Mirabel, Quebec, as well as at the new A220 assembly line in Mobile, Alabama.
Today in the A220 FAL many parts are being "attached" together; the tail, rear section of the fuselage, center section, and front fuselage section (which is already attached to the nose/cockpit). Then the wing and the landing gear, and once again, ending up with an empty aircraft. The front fuselage is delivered from China to Bombardier Ville St-Laurent facility where it is attached to the cockpit. The cockpit is built by Bombardier in Ville St-Laurent/Montreal. Remember?
What will Airbus do? The Prefabricated Approach
Remember the Alamo? I remember how the Hilton Palacio del Rio was built in San Antonio, Texas: The Prefabricated Approach (read about how this Hotel was built back in 1967-68 and delivered ahead of schedule when the construction company's IBM 360 calculated that it was impossible)
"All guest rooms of the hotel were constructed as modular units in a location 8 miles from the construction site. Modular units were built complete with plumbing fixtures, lighting, art work, furnishings and even ash trays." (Wikipedia)
I've seen and heard about this hotel many times when in San Antonio. See the video below, very interesting!
A Tall Story Hilton Palacio del Rio www.youtube.com
To be more efficient and to increase the production rate Airbus will need to bring Mirabel toward the level they achieve elsewhere. From the current five (5) aircraft sections attached together before installing the wing and the landing gears Airbus wants to drop this to three (3) fuselage parts only, splitting the aircraft in three (3), the rear, the middle section and the front. I'm not mentioning the horizontal and vertical stabilizers and the tail cone that also need to be attached to the aircraft. This should prove to increase the production rate.
Airbus A320 final assembly www.youtube.com
What does this involve?
Pre-joining some of those fuselage parts will be accomplished "before" entering the FAL building. A new building will be built to move some of the work ahead (and out) of the final assembly line, before those parts enter the FAL. That new building should be located on the east side of the current Mirabel FAL building, where lays the beginning of the A220 assembly line. See position D on the first image at the top of the article. This will be Mirabel "Pre-FAL" building.
This also means that the suppliers would have to deliver "totally completed" components, thus no more workers any more from the suppliers, on site, making adjustment or final completion in the FAL. This also applies to Bombardier UK and the wing. But that's not all. Montreal and Mirabel will also be pre-assembling and completing A220 fuselage sections to be sent to Mobile for the new Airbus A220 assembly line, starting in 2019.
As with the way the famous Hilton Palacio Del Rio in San Antonio Texas was built, Airbus is also planning on having those sections of the fuselage "pre-furnished" before entering the FAL building. The goal is to have most of the final floor installed, all the wiring, piping, electronic boxes, lavatories, etc., like it is for those pre-fabricated homes, all pre-fabricated and ready to be joined together into a final product when delivered, well, close to.
An investment is required by Airbus at their Mirabel A220 facility to achieve this; a new "Pre-FAL" building will be needed and to be located at position D on the map at the top of this article.
Thank you Airbus!
Montreal and Mirabel will also be pre-assembling and completing A220 fuselage sections to be sent to Mobile, Alabama new A220 assembly line. The A220 cockpit from Bombardier Ville St-Laurent/Montreal pre-attached with the front fuselage from China and also the "to be" pre-assembled and furnished rear section of the aircraft from the Mirabel Pre-FAL building would be supplying Mirabel and Mobile, both A220 assembly lines. We could "assume" that new jobs would also be created for this in Mirabel, thank you Airbus! (read it all https://www.fliegerfaust.com/airbus-a220-news-2621763995.html)
Back to today's update
As it is, the original plans have changed quite a bit. Initially, the pre-FAL was to be built directly facing the entrance of the current FAL, where the fuselage components enter the assembly line, but all of this changed when Mitsubishi appeared in the picture.
As you should remember, I wrote many times in the past that Airbus was looking forward for Bombardier to totally vacate the A220 site. As of this writing, Bombardier still operates its CRJ assembly facility within the Airbus facility at Mirabel airport.
But, now Bombardier has sold (still waiting for the last signatures on this one...) the whole CRJ program to Mitsubishi and will be killing the production of the CRJ type with the last one to be delivered. As the scenario goes, Airbus will then take over the totality of the A220 Mirabel site, including the space that was used by the CRJ production/assembly.
It has been decided that the upcoming A220 pre-FAL will be built "inside" the building where the Bombardier (Mitsubishi) CRJ is currently being assembled. If you look at the included image, the CRJ is at position E, facing the "exit" of the A220 FAL
Airbus A220 Facility located at Mirabel Airport in Quebec, Canada
While eliminating the need to erect a new building, the projected sub-facility happens to be standing on the wrong side from where the A220 FAL begins. Currently being planned is to have the pre-fabricated A220 fuselage components moved around the A220 FAL, from the west side around to the east side where they are actually needed. The A220 FAL is the building just left of position D on the image. D is the location the A220 pre-FALL was supposed to be built.
Components bound for the Mobile, Alabama A220 FAL will then have an easy access to the aircraft ramp, should Airbus decide to change the modus operandi of the shipments to Alabama. Currently, what is being produced in Quebec is delivered to Mobile by truck, a 22h drive of 2000 km, over 1200 miles.
All of this pushed the entry into service of the Mirabel A220 pre-FAL to spring/summer 2021. Thus, it will be pretty hard to detect a tangible increase in the Mirabel A220 yearly production before any of this is brought to a fruitful completion.
Currently Airbus has a delivery target of 47 A220 aircraft in 2019 and 65 in 2020.
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