The shipping of jet components to Airbus’ final assembly line at the Brookley Aeroplex will become even more efficient once a new dock at Arlington Point is operational.
Work on the dock, which will allow the company to offload more components more quickly, will be completed soon by Airbus’ logistics partner DB Schenker, but it’s still unclear who will pay for the project and how much it will cost.
“It’s still under negotiation as to who will pay,” Mobile Airport Authority Executive Director Chris Curry said. “The players involved are [the MAA], the city, the county and Airbus. I don’t know if an agreement has been reached.”
The addition of the dock is part of the site development agreement the MAA reached with Airbus back in 2012, Curry said. While the cost of the project is unclear, Curry did confirm dredging the area — which hasn’t been used for shipping in decades — would also be necessary.
“The dredging cost depends on how deep they need it and if there are any issues they find,” he said.
The dock will allow Airbus to move components from ship to shore without lifting them, spokeswoman Kristi Tucker said, more closely aligning the Brookley facility with a European model.
“There’s no lifting, which is better for us,” she said. “It’s safer for the parts because there is less handling.”
The dock would also allow the company to ship more components at a time. Tucker said the move would allow Airbus to ship four sets of components to the final assembly line at once. It will also reduce the shipping time from 21 days to 15 days, Tucker said.
Since the final assembly line is currently building four aircraft per month, the new dock will help ramp up production as the facility grows.
The move won’t negatively impact the state Port Authority, spokeswoman Judy Adams said, but it will result in a few changes. For instance, Airbus components will be offloaded from Pier 8 at the port onto a barge and sent to Arlington Point. Currently, components are offloaded at the container terminal and trucked to Brookley, Adams said.
“There is no impact on us,” Adams said. “This is something we knew was coming.”
Once at Arlington Point, the components will be rolled to a truck and brought to the final assembly line for storage, Curry said.
“They will be bringing parts from the dock through the Coast Guard property to a preferred location,” he said. “It’ll go from the ship to the barge to a truck to the facility.”
Curry called the dock a “great investment” and said the other entities at Brookley would be able to use the dock as well once it’s completed.
The headline for this post was corrected on Thursday, March 8.
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