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4 years ago

Airbus CEO: Alabama was the most business-friendly state we could find


(Above: Airbus Group Inc. Chairman and Chief Executive Allan McArtor and Hoar Program Management President Mike Lanier discuss the Mobile Aeroplex)

MOBILE, Ala. – Construction work on the Airbus Alabama passenger jet production facility is moving forward on schedule, with the steel skeleton of a logistics center soon to rise near the assembly hangar already standing at the Mobile Aeroplex at Brookley site.

Two of the project’s chief figures – Airbus Group Inc. Chairman and Chief Executive Allan McArtor and Hoar Program Management President Mike Lanier, who is overseeing the work – said the $600 million A320 Family Assembly Line will be ready for production to begin in Alabama during summer 2015.

With the sprawling assembly hangar as a backdrop, the men recently discussed how the construction work is unfolding at Mobile Aeroplex, which was selected as the home for Airbus’ first U.S. assembly facility two years ago.

McArtor also discussed job-training initiatives that will help Airbus assemble its 1,000-strong workforce and outlined reasons the global aviation giant selected Alabama for this key project.

Allan McArtor, CEO of Airbus Americas (Right), and Mike Lanier, President of Hoar Program Management (Left), discuss the progress of Mobile, Alabama's Airbus A320 Family Assembly Line.
Allan McArtor, CEO of Airbus Americas (Right), and Mike Lanier, President of Hoar Program Management (Left), discuss the progress of Mobile, Alabama’s Airbus A320 Family Assembly Line.

Q: Give us a progress report on the Assembly Line construction project. Is it moving forward along the timeframe that you previously stated?

McARTOR: From the Airbus perspective, the Assembly Line project is right on time, right on schedule, right on budget, and we could not be more pleased with the performance of our contractors and Hoar Program Management.

LANIER: We set out on a timeline over a year and a half ago and things are coming together just like we expected them to.

Q: Is everything still on track with the first customer delivery in 2016?

McARTOR: Airbus committed to delivering to our first customer in April 2016. JetBlue plans to accept the first airplane out of here, and we are right on track to do that. We expect to be ready to begin assembling airplanes about this time next year, in the early summer of 2015 and deliver that first airplane in 2016.

Q: Allan, can you comment on why Airbus selected Alabama and how that partnership is developing?

McARTOR: Airbus was looking to fill out its global strategy of industrial presence in Europe, China and the United States. We were looking for an industrial home, and we looked at states all over the United States and around the coastal community. We wanted an airport, we wanted lots of real estate, and we wanted a deep-water port. So when we narrowed it down to the finalists, Alabama to us was the most business-friendly state we could find.

We found in Alabama a willingness to work with us, a willingness to train our employees, proven history with the automobile industry and the aerospace industry that was already in Alabama, and a state and local government that was going to be our partner.

The other good decision we made was picking our construction partner in Hoar Program Management. We could not have picked a more professional and more personable group with whom to work.

Q: Airbus has made initial hires and sent some of them to Germany for training. What’s next for them and the other employees?

McARTOR: We have made several initial hires and they are now in Hamburg, Germany, going through on-the-job training. They will be there for several months and then they come back and they get familiar with this facility. By that time we’ll be operational, so they can get used to the jigs and tools and equipment and this Assembly Line, which will be the most efficient one we have in all the Airbus facilities. And then, it’ll be their job to help train additional employees, so we are pretty excited about it.

Q: Mike, what’s it like for your firm to be at the center of a project that’s considered so important to the future of Alabama?

LANIER: It’s been really exciting to be a part of this huge project. Airbus created such a buzz when they announced in July 2012 that they were coming. I tell people it’s like being married to a super model — everybody wants to know what it’s like working with a big global firm like this. But seriously it’s a great honor for all of our teammates to be a part of this, and the contractors we brought on board.

We’ve got a very, very high percentage of Alabama firms involved in the project, which was a goal that Airbus wanted us to achieve, and we’ve been able to do that. We take great pride in employing as many Alabama firms as we have.

Q: From a construction standpoint what’s the most interesting aspect of this project?

LANIER: We have learned how airplanes are built, how an Assembly Line building like this functions. To support our customers, we had to learn how they build airplanes — not down to the minute details but how the big pieces all come together in this building for a complete aircraft to roll out the other end.

2 hours ago

A second former Prattville police officer sentenced for theft

Alabama Attorney General Steve Marshall on Friday announced that former Prattville police officer John Wayne McDaniel Jr. has been sentenced for conspiracy to commit burglary, third-degree theft, second-degree theft of prescription medicine and criminal impersonation of a police officer.

McDaniel was sentenced in Autauga County Circuit Court to ten years for each count, with the sentences being split for him to serve three years in community corrections rather than prison. The sentences will run concurrently.

“It is always serious and a sad betrayal of the public’s trust when a law enforcement officer breaks the law he has sworn to uphold,” said Marshall.

He continued, “In this case, the court considered that McDaniel acknowledged his wrongdoing, cooperated in the investigation, and assisted with information for the prosecution of others in related crimes. His sentence takes this into account, yet imposes strong controls to invoke his prison sentence if he fails to abide by the strict standards of the community corrections program.”

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In the community corrections program, defendants may serve their time outside of prison or jail but are held to stringent conditions and supervision, and upon any failure to comply are subject to immediately being sent to jail or prison.

McDaniel’s cooperation was an integral factor in the successful prosecution of another former Prattville police officer, Leon Todd Townson, who was sentenced on Monday to serve ten years in prison for first-degree insurance fraud and conspiracy to commit first-degree burglary and and three years for third-degree burglary. Townson’s sentences run concurrently.

McDaniel and Townson were both originally charged with breaking into a home in 2015, and Townson was also charged in 2017 with defrauding an insurance agency by filing a claim worth $190,000 using false information.

Marshall commended Assistant Attorney General John Kachelman of the office’s Criminal Trials Division for his exemplary work in bringing these cases to a successful conclusion. The Attorney General also applauded Special Agents of his Investigations Division and thanked the Prattville Police Department for their crucial role in the investigation and prosecution of the two cases.

Sean Ross is a staff writer for Yellowhammer News. You can follow him on Twitter @sean_yhn

3 hours ago

77-year-old identical twin sisters ‘serving up smiles’ at Alabama McDonald’s

A pair of 77-year-old identical twin sisters working at a Shelby County McDonald’s restaurant has customers saying, “I’m lovin’ it.”

Maryann Byrne and Alice Moore, the twins, are so popular that a customer called WBRC urging them to do a story about the sisters, who work at the location on Valleydale Road and the corner of Caldwell Mill Road.

Byrne and Moore do every task – from taking customers’ orders, to preparing food and pouring piping-hot cups of coffee – with genuine smiles that are contagious to co-workers and customers alike.

“Those two ladies are a breath of fresh air for all the people who come in here,” customer Rod Peeks told WBRC. “They’re just amazing.”

The sisters say it all comes down to them loving to serve others and caring about the people they interact with.

“The customers are gorgeous, they really are,” said Byrne. “They’re like your family members.”

“We like to make people happy. We like to please people. God made them and we need to please them,” added Moore.

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The story gets even better. The sisters get to work with another family member, as Moore’s daughter is the general manager of the restaurant.

“They’re my superstars and I love them to pieces. Please come in and see them,” Barbara Gibbs said about her mom and aunt.

Byrne calls her sister “the twin queen,” because Moore has a set of twins and her daughter Maria, the manager, gave birth to twin boys.

Watch the entire story below:

WBRC FOX6 News – Birmingham, AL

Sean Ross is a staff writer for Yellowhammer News. You can follow him on Twitter @sean_yhn

3 hours ago

Jefferson State Community College gets grant to improve biomedical training program

Gov. Kay Ivey has awarded Jefferson State Community College $220,817 to upgrade a program that trains students for jobs in the medical industry.

The grant, provided to the state by the Appalachian Regional Commission, will be used to purchase equipment, furniture and supplies to upgrade classroom and laboratory space for the college’s biomedical training program. The program trains students as biomedical equipment technicians in both manufacturing and healthcare.

“My administration has championed job growth in Alabama, and programs like this ensure that our workforce is trained and ready for those jobs,” Ivey said in a press release. “I am pleased that this ARC funding is helping to provide better opportunities for Alabama workers.”

Thirty-seven Alabama counties are members of the Appalachian Regional Commission and eligible for grant funds.

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4 hours ago

Congratulations to all of Alabama’s Congressional delegation on their re-elections

[WRITER’S NOTE: Before I get started, let me just short-circuit 90 percent of the response to what I am about to say is going to get: No, fivethirtyeight.com was not totally wrong about the presidential election. They said Hillary Clinton was going to win the popular vote, and she did.

If you are an elected Congressman from Alabama, you are good to go in November, according to FiveThirtyEight.

The least likely winner is Congresswoman Martha Roby, who is still expected to brutalize her opponent.

This should surprise absolutely no one. Alabama is still a red state. The only blue district in the state is a gerrymandered mess that includes Birmingham and Montgomery, so Rep. Terri Sewell (D-Birmingham) didn’t even draw an opponent.

The bigger story from fivethirtyeight.com is that their analysis shows two things:

1. Republicans are projected to lose, but it’s not impossible (this is better than the chance they gave Trump)

2. There are far more Solid D (188) seats than Solid R (146) seats, that means more seats for Republicans to defend, and that means less money for each one.

This could be a tough year for Republicans, but all is not lost yet.

@TheDaleJackson is a contributing writer to Yellowhammer News and hosts a conservative talk show  from 7-11 am weekdays on WVNN

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5 hours ago

See where Alabama schools rank in Princeton Review’s list of best colleges

The Princeton Review has released their trademark list of the “Best 384 Colleges” for 2019 and three Alabama schools made the cut.

To compile their latest edition, which is the 27th annual, the Princeton Review interviewed 138,000 students and examined the relevant data on the nation’s colleges.

See which Alabama institutions are on the list, and why, below:

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(Note that the following sub-rankings are only done for top 20 schools in each category)

Auburn University

Best Athletic Facilities – #2
Future Rotarians and DAR – #14
Happiest Students – #19
Students Pack the Stadiums – #5
Their Students Love These Colleges – #18
Town-Gown Relations are Great – #7

Academics, on a scale of 1-99: 75

Read more about Auburn’s inclusion here.

The University of Alabama

Best Athletic Facilities – #1
Best College Dorms – #13
Best-Run Colleges – #11
Lots of Greek Life – #5
Most Active Student Governments – #8

Academics, on a scale of 1-99: 77

Read more about UA’s inclusion here.

The University of Alabama at Birmingham

UAB’s post-graduate programs really push it over the top as a premier high-education institution.

The Princeton Review highlighted UAB by saying, “At the University of Alabama at Birmingham, professors and administrators ‘care about you.'” They also boast a relatively low student-to-faculty ratio.

Academics, on a scale of 1-99: 67

Read more about UAB’s inclusion here.

Sean Ross is a staff writer for Yellowhammer News. You can follow him on Twitter @sean_yhn