5 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.

14 seconds ago

Enterprise celebrates 100th anniversary of Boll Weevil Monument

On Wednesday the City of Enterprise celebrates the 100-year anniversary of its iconic Boll Weevil Monument.

The aforementioned Weevil is the only farming pest in the entire world to have its own monument.

The Boll Weevil destroyed many cotton crops in Southwest Alabama from 1915-1918, nearly bankrupting many farmers in the area. Some growers in the Enterprise area decided to grow peanuts as a way of avoiding ruination. The decision to diversify crops was so financially beneficial that the citizens of Enterprise erected the monument to the boll weevil.


A plaque at Enterprise City Hall describes an appreciation for what the Boll Weevil “had done as the herald of prosperity and the catalyst to diversified farming.”

According to WTVY, the monument did not feature an actual depiction of the pest from 1919 until 1948 when R.J. Baker added the world-famous bug to the top of the statue.

Enterprise will be hosting a rededication ceremony on December 11 at 5:30 p.m. that interested citizens can attend in person, or watch via live stream on Facebook.

“We hope that this rededication ceremony will renew everyone’s spirit about the message about the boll weevil monument, and if you haven’t heard the message before, you’re going to hear it for the first time,” City of Enterprise Tourism Director Tammy Doerer told WTVY.

Henry Thornton is a staff writer for Yellowhammer News. You can contact him by email: henry@yellowhammernews.com or on Twitter @HenryThornton95.

28 mins ago

State Sen. Elliott vows another attempt at bill labeling offenses involving those attempting harm on law enforcement as a ‘hate crime’

Last week, Huntsville STAC Agent Bill Clardy III was shot and killed in the line of the duty, making Clardy the sixth such death in 2019 for Alabama and reflects an alarming trend for the state.

Earlier this year, State Sen. Chris Elliott (R-Daphne) pushed for legislation that would include law enforcement employment as a protected class, just as race, color, religion, national origin, ethnicity, or physical or mental disability are.

However, the bill got bogged down in the Senate Judiciary Committee and never made it to the floor of the Alabama Senate for a vote. On Tuesday, Elliott told WVNN’s “The Jeff Poor Show” that he will take another shot at the legislation in 2020.


“It got bogged down in committee,” Elliott explained. “It got some amendments on it in committee that really made it untenable to get to the floor. And I think we’re going to give that a try again, and I anticipate it getting to the floor without any other amendments. You’ll recall those amendments were making other things a hate crime as well. I think what we need to do is take this one step at a time and address the issue at hand as opposed to try to bog it down with amendments.”

“I mean, all law enforcement officers deserve better than a bill that is festooned with other amendments,” he added.

Elliott said his renewed effort on the legislation would be done out of respect to those slain officers.

“Any time you start loading up a bill with amendments like that, it becomes a problem,” Elliott said. “But whether you’re talking about Officer Clardy or Justin Bila here in Mobile, or a couple of years ago Baldwin County Sheriff’s Deputy Scott Ward or others — you know, those guys deserve a clean bill and something we absolutely have a priority on.”

@Jeff_Poor is a graduate of Auburn University, the editor of Breitbart TV and host of “The Jeff Poor Show” from 2-5 p.m. on WVNN in Huntsville.

1 hour ago

Birmingham, Mountain Brook declared ‘TraffickingFree Zones’

On Tuesday, the cities of Birmingham and Mountain Brook announced that they have declared themselves “TraffickingFree Zones” in advance of the World Games that will be held in Birmingham in 2021.

Birmingham is the most populous city in America to make the declaration. The two cities join Vestavia Hills in proclaiming vigilance against the blight of human trafficking.

The proclamation requires all city staff to receive training on human trafficking and formalizes the cities’ “zero-tolerance” policy on buying sex at work.


The proclamation asserts the flood of new people brought to the Birmingham area for the World Games could mean “an increase in tourists seeking entertainment, including commercial sex, increasing the potential risk for exploitation and human trafficking.”

“The first step in eliminating human trafficking in our community is to educate others,” the proclamation goes on to say.

The TraffickingFree Zone program the two cities are joining is a nationwide initiative of the U.S. Institute Against Human Trafficking (USIAHT).

Birmingham Councilor Crystal Smitherman, resolution sponsor, said, “Birmingham was the epicenter of the Civil Rights movement 60 years ago, and we once again have the opportunity to lead the nation in the fight for civil and human rights. We as a city take this issue incredibly seriously, and look forward to working with the countless trafficking organizations that make up the Child Trafficking Solutions Project on future endeavors to end child trafficking and keep our children safe.”

Mountain Brook Mayor Stewart Welch remarked, “The City of Mountain Brook takes this issue very seriously, and we vow to train our entire city staff, including first responders, to ensure that our children are safe and that our community is informed about human trafficking and what to do if they suspect a case of human trafficking.”

“The community response to the TraffickingFree Zone initiative is a testament to how seriously the entire Birmingham community, and the state of Alabama, is taking the issue,” advised USIAHT CEO Geoff Rogers.

Additional support for the movement comes from a Birmingham-area anti-trafficking coalition, the Child Trafficking Solutions Project (CTSP). The CTSP, which will handle the groundwork for the staff training, is a collaboration between the Children’s Policy Council and the Jefferson County Family Court.

Jordan Giddens, community engagement coordinator for the CTSP, said, “Our coalition, representing over 50 organizations across the Birmingham metro has worked tirelessly to saturate the entire Birmingham community with anti-trafficking awareness, and we are overjoyed that municipalities across the entire state are taking the steps to declare themselves a TraffickingFree Zone.”

Henry Thornton is a staff writer for Yellowhammer News. You can contact him by email: henry@yellowhammernews.com or on Twitter @HenryThornton95.

4 hours ago

7 Things: Two articles of impeachment, polling has Sessions still up, Trump gets trade win and more …

7. Biden is still first, but Warren is falling

  • New polling data from the Quinnipiac University has been released that shows former Vice President Joe Biden is still in first place with 29%, but U.S. Senator Bernie Sanders (I-VT) has moved up into second with 17%.
  • U.S. Senator Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) has fallen to third place with 15%, South Bend Mayor Pete Buttigieg is down to 9%, New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg follows with 5% and entrepreneur Andrew Yang has 4%.

6. Stopping the spread of misinformation


  • Alabama Secretary of State John Merrill has met with Twitter and Facebook representatives in an effort to stop misinformation from spreading online throughout the state in preparation for the upcoming 2020 election cycle.
  • Merrill said that it’s important that everyone in Alabama is “informed with up-to-date, complete, and accurate information.” Merrill added, “[E]lection security and protocol is higher than ever in Alabama. We continue to introduce new ways to improve security every single day.”

5. Ainsworth has endorsed Ward

  • Lieutenant Governor Will Ainsworth took to Twitter to endorse State Senator Cam Ward (R-Alabaster) for the Alabama Supreme Court. Ainsworth confirmed the endorsement, saying, “I am supporting his candidacy and encourage my friends to do the same.”
  • Ward responded to Ainsworth’s endorsement by saying he’s “honored” to have the support and that Ainsworth “knows my legislative record and the conservative values I will bring to our Supreme Court.”

4. Tuberville doubles down on his reasonable drag queen take

  • When former Auburn football coach Tommy Tuberville expressed that a Christmas parade may not be the appropriate place for a drag show, you knew the media would take the bait and attack him for it.
  • In response, Tuberville further explained that a parade designed for children isn’t really the place for this stuff. He stated, “Christmas is about celebrating with family,” adding, “Our public celebrations ought to be family-friendly for young and old.”

3. Democrats are supporting trade agreement

  • The United States-Mexico-Canada Agreement (USMCA) is now supported by House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s (D-CA) caucus, which is the trade agreement that would replace NAFTA.
  • Pelosi’s announcement of her support comes only one day after Alabama Senate President Pro Tem Del Marsh (R-Anniston), House Speaker Mac McCutcheon (R-Monrovia), State Senator Gerald Allen (R-Tuscaloosa) and State Representative Wes Allen (R-Troy) sent a letter to Pelosi pushing for her to support the trade agreement.

2. New polls in Alabama Senate race

  • The Alabama Farmers Federation has released new polling data that shows former Attorney General Jeff Sessions and former Auburn Football Coach are polling closely, with Sessions at 35% and Tuberville at 31%, whereas data released by the Sessions campaign showed that Sessions was at 44% and Tuberville was at 21%.
  • The Farmers Federation data also showed that U.S. Representative Bradley Byrne (R-Fairhope) is at 12%, former Alabama Supreme Court Chief Justice Roy Moore is at 8% and State Representative Arnold Mooney (R-Indian Springs) and Stanley Adair are only at 1% each.

1. Abuse of power and obstruction

  • The House Democrats have announced formal articles of impeachment they’re bringing against President Donald Trump, which are abuse of power and obstruction of Congress. In doing so, U.S. Representative Jerry Nadler (D-NY) said that Trump “endangers our democracy; he endangers our national security.”
  • U.S. Representative Bradley Byrne (R-Fairhope) responded to the articles of impeachment, saying it’s “nothing more than a pathetic witch hunt.” U.S. Representative Robert Aderholt (R-Haleyville) said that the “charges are so political, not even all their members will be able to stomach voting for them.”

4 hours ago

Mo Brooks: Obama’s attack on law enforcement tied to spike in police killed in the line of duty

On Friday, another Alabama police officer was shot and killed in the line of the duty, which was the sixth such death in 2019.

Huntsville STAC Agent Bill Clardy III was shot and killed. LaJeromeny Brown, the suspect behind the killing, was charged with capital murder. Clardy’s death is the latest in an alarming trend of law enforcement officers killed while on the job.

During an appearance on Huntsville radio’s WVNN on Tuesday, Rep. Mo Brooks (R-Huntsville) expressed his frustration over the circumstances surrounding Clardy’s murder. He argued there was more elected officials could do to reverse the trend.


“It saddens me,” Brooks said on “The Jeff Poor Show.” “It angers me that we allow criminals to stay on our streets as long as we do with the kind of records that they have. If media reports of this man’s record are correct, he should never have been in a position where he could have been exposed to the public or where he could have murdered one of our police officers. I think it is good [U.S. Attorney for the Northern District of Alabama] Jay Town is looking into … why this man was at large when he should have been in a penitentiary somewhere serving a long, long sentence. So I am frustrated with our judicial system, and I just hate what happened. And I feel for the family.”

“A lot of this is what we’ve seen over the last decade or so where we’ve seen some political elements that seem to be anti-law enforcement,” he continued. “The more get public officials making anti-law enforcement statements, the more you’re encouraging people to resist law enforcement officers, even to the point of pulling out a gun and people getting killed. There is so much to it that frustrates me as an elected official, and so many things we as a society could be doing better to protect innocent Americans on the one hand and our brave law enforcement officers on the other.”

The Madison County Republican argued for one policy prescription, which was a review of how public officials support and publicly speak about law enforcement. Brooks pointed to former President Barack Obama’s rhetoric and how he handled some high-profile officer-involved incidents, which, according to Brooks, has created an environment more difficult for law enforcement.

“We need to have more public officials who support law enforcement,” Brooks explained. “Keep in mind that under the last administration — I hate to be so partisan, but this is the truth of the matter — under the last administration, any time a law enforcement officer did what he needed to do to protect the public, and an individual was killed in the following fray, the Obama administration would immediately attack law enforcement, and that kind of jumping to a conclusion that Barack Obama did so frequently and his attacks on law enforcement, and his support for African-Americans for no reason apparently other than they were African-American — it wasn’t about whether they were guilty or not. We saw what happened with Ferguson, Missouri, where the Obama administration immediately came to the defense of the African-American who was killed, attacked the law enforcement community, and then later on it turned out that this guy was a thug and just finished committing a forceful robbery.”

“Another follow-up on that is what happened in Texas where an African-American probably emboldened to some degree by these anti-law enforcement statements of elected officials decided to go on a killing rampage, and his targets were two types of people: law enforcement officers and whites,” he continued. “And that is what he said. Words are important. And our elected officials — if they don’t want anarchy, if they don’t want crime to rule, then they better be a whole lot more forceful in protecting our law enforcement officers and backing them up, or else you’re going to see more of this.”

@Jeff_Poor is a graduate of Auburn University, the editor of Breitbart TV and host of “The Jeff Poor Show” from 2-5 p.m. on WVNN in Huntsville.