DHL Equips Airbus USA With Components

European plane maker Airbus has selected DHL Global Forwarding (DHL GF), the logistics arm of Deutsche Post, to exclusively ship aircraft components from the manufacturer’s production plant in Hamburg (Germany) to its newly-built final assembly line in Mobile, Alabama (USA). The agreement reached between Airbus and DHL GF encompasses a total freight volume of 80,000 tons, including many parts, tools and equipment sent by air.

Airbus staff bid farewell to the first Mobile bound shipment  /  courtesy Airbus Hamburg
Airbus staff bid farewell to the first Mobile bound shipment / courtesy Airbus Hamburg

According to the head of communications at Airbus Germany, Florian Seidel, all components needed to start producing Airbus planes in the USA are consolidated at his company’s Hamburg plant and either steamed or flown to Mobile from there. Florian points out that larger pieces such as wings produced in Broughton, UK or the cockpit section coming from Toulouse in France are brought by ship to Mobile. “We’ve got our own pier here at Airbus Hamburg which makes sea transport quite comfortable,” Florian says.
“North America is one of the largest single-aisle aircraft markets in the world. This manufacturing facility brings us closer to our customers, and strengthens the aerospace industry in the U.S., Europe and around the world,” stated Fabrice Brégier, Airbus President and CEO.

Multimodal transport solutions
Heavy and large items like wings, tails or fuselage sections are transported on board a chartered ship to the U.S. After their arrival at the port of Mobile and clear customs, the aircraft components are loaded onto heavy-duty trailers and transported a few miles to the Airbus assembly plant. Mr Seidel says the transport from harbor to harbor takes approximately 16 days.

Air freight compliments ocean transport
In contrast to all large and heavy pieces smaller aircraft components are brought to Mobile entirely by air. Air freight shipments as well as hazardous goods (among other things) use LD3 containers and consolidated shipments along with the special procedures legally required for securing and transporting this type of cargo. Similar to sea shipments, after clearing customs in Atlanta, Georgia, the freight is sent by truck to the assembly plant in Mobile and the containers are re-used for shipping back the empties to the Airbus plant in Hamburg.
Nikola Hagleitner, CEO Industrial Projects, DHL Global Forwarding explains: “Transport management for highly sensitive heavy goods calls for highly specialized expertise in project logistics as well as a firm grasp of the technical and security issues. Together with Airbus our Industrial Projects team designed a sophisticated multimodal transport concept.”

Jet Blue gets the first Airbus produced in the USA
Mobile, Alabama will be the second Airbus assembly line outside Europe, next to Tianjin in China. The plane maker’s variant A321 will be produced there, followed by the other family members A320 and A319. The facility will be officially inaugurated in September, with the first A321 rolling out of the production hall in the spring of 2016. The New York-based LCC Jet Blue is the take-off customer.

Heiner Siegmund  /  Michael Taweel

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