The Airbus A220 final assembly line at Mirabel, Canada A220 facility. Photo: Airbus
Airbus executives announced a new North American assembly line and extended operations (ETOPS) approval from Canada’s civil aviation regulator for their A220 program during a tour of their Mirabel manufacturing site Monday Jan. 14.
A day after the tour, Delta Air Lines Chief Executive Ed Bastian told investors that the U.S. debut of the A220 would be delayed due to the ongoing partial government shutdown during the Atlanta-based carrier's fourth quarter earnings call.
“Our Airbus 220 start date is likely to be pushed back due to delays in the certification process. This is also hampering our ability to put seven other new aircraft deliveries into service,” said Bastian.
Delta Airlines' first Airbus A220 was scheduled to take its first passenger flight in January. The milestone has been delayed due to the need for certification services from the FAA that are unavailable because of the government shutdown. Photo: Delta Air Lines.
Outside of Delta’s delay, the A220 program has been picking up momentum within the 100- to 150-seat segment of the commercial aviation market. Transport Canada’s 180-minute ETOPS approval for the A220 is the first its ever issued for a commercial airliner.
The approval gives A220 operators the ability to fly up to 180-minutes from the nearest diversion airport. That marks the latest operational upgrade for in service A220s following EASA’s CAT III autoland certification added to the aircraft’s European type certification in November.
Construction of a new A220 assembly line is also under way in Mobile, Alabama, home to the current North American A320 assembly line for Airbus. A220 production in Mobile is scheduled to begin in the third quarter of 2019, with the first Mobile-assembled A220 scheduled for delivery next year.
In Mirabel, Airbus is also adding a new A220 delivery center, and two new pre-flight position centers. Their future production goal is to reach a production rate of 10 A220s per month if the demand is there to support it.
June 2019 will mark the third year since the entry into service of the first A220 with Swiss International Airlines. As of January 2019, the A220 has amassed 120,000 flight hours and is averaging 18 hours and 13 leg flight hours daily.
Airbus has completed 57 deliveries of the A220 to 19 different airlines, and has an order backlog for 537 aircraft. Air Tanzania became the first African airline to take delivery of an A220 in December.