First on the Line for Airbus

The first 10 of several hundred people who will be assembling Airbus A320 neo aircraft in Mobile starting next year came to town in late October, donned their blue Airbus polo shirts and began the first few days of nearly a year of training preparatory to building planes in Alabama.

Four came from Alabama, the other six from nearby, and all from good jobs within the aircraft industry.

“The reputation of Airbus — it’s known for quality, ” attracted Todd Janes, of Silverhill, who came to the Mobile facility from UTC Technologies in Foley. “I’m really excited to be able to work for the world leader in aviation.”

Lindsay Thompson, a Daphne resident, who has worked at Airbus’ engineering facility in Mobile for five years, enjoyed the design work but looks forward to the hands-on aspect of the assembly line and “learning the aircraft itself.”

Stephen Beal, a Foley resident who also comes to Airbus from UTC, says he looks forward to working on the A320s, a tried and true family of aircraft.

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Joe Martin, of Mobile, has been watching for the job postings since he first heard the announcement that Airbus was coming to town. Planes have fascinated him since middle school, when he used to build models out of toothpicks and cardboard. And he didn’t lose that fascination during his Navy years and subsequent work in the field.

And they expect a lot of themselves.

“I like the perfection that’s expected in airplanes, ” says Thompson.

Next they face an introduction to German language and culture, preparatory to a nine-month stint in Hamburg, where they’ll learn beside their counterparts on an established Airbus assembly line.

All say they found their jobs by visiting the Airbus website and following the links to AIDT, the state agency that assists industry with recruitment and training. HR Director Jennifer Ogle says there’ll be many more openings available in the near future.

Alex Tijerina, another new employee who’s worked at other aircraft companies, says there’s nothing like working hard with fellow employees, building a plane and watching it take off. “It’s the ultimate job satisfaction.”

Text by Nedra Bloom

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