12 months ago

HPM: Airbus A220 assembly line project gaining momentum in Alabama

MOBILE, Alabama – On the campus of Airbus’ Alabama manufacturing facility, construction crews are completing the early phases of a project that represents the next chapter of the aerospace company’s U.S. growth plans.

Work on the A220 aircraft assembly line in Mobile is moving forward rapidly, just months after high-ranking Airbus executives joined state and local leaders at an official groundbreaking ceremony at the site.

“We are well into construction,” said Greg Ellis, vice president for program development at HPM, the Birmingham-based firm overseeing the project. “The site is full of tower cranes and tons of yellow equipment. It looks like ants on a hill right at the moment.”

For HPM, the new project is a déjà vu moment. The firm oversaw the construction of Airbus’ A320 Family manufacturing facility at the Mobile Aeroplex at Brookley industrial park, a $600 million investment that gave the aircraft maker its first U.S.-based commercial aircraft assembly site.

The facility now being built on the Mobile campus is also strategically significant as it will allow Airbus to produce a second aircraft type in Alabama — the single-aisle A220 passenger jet to meet the demands of U.S. airlines.

It’s also an extension of the partnership the Alabama firm has forged with Airbus.

“The relationship with Airbus has played an integral role in the growth of HPM, and we’re honored to expand our partnership on the new A220 assembly line,” said Ryan Austin, chief operations officer at HPM. “Through past projects, we have cultivated a mutual respect and keen understanding of the strategic processes and objectives for each organization.

“Those symmetries will enable us to deliver a top-caliber facility that will help Airbus to achieve its production goals and will ultimately contribute to increased growth and prosperity for the city of Mobile and state of Alabama,” he said.

RENEWED PARTNERSHIPS

Though the groundbreaking ceremony was staged just five months ago, HPM’s work on the project actually started in Spring 2018, when it began working on programming efforts with Airbus and its A220 partner, Canadian aircraft maker Bombardier, according to Ellis.

HPM then teamed with the engineering and development firm Mott MacDonald, a partner on the A320 project, to draw up a master plan and assemble the design build and construction teams for the new project.

HPM tapped Brasfield & Gorrie, which built the A320 assembly line, for the same role in the A220 project. Another Birmingham-based firm, BL Harbert International, is adding four additional hangar bays to support A220 and A320 production.

Both are moving forward for a fast-track delivery for Airbus, which aims to begin assembling A220 aircraft at the site this summer.

Ellis said BL Harbert has topped out the steel structures for the new bays and begun pouring slabs and enclosing the buildings. Brasfield & Gorrie is already into steel construction and prepping areas for an underground tunnel that will run within the assembly line.

“They’ve got all the foundation systems installed and all of the temporary shoring. They are closing in on about 50 percent completion with the building of the final assembly line,” Ellis said. “Over the next 60 days, we’ll start to install roof and exterior wall systems once they get the steel far enough along.”

A future phase of the project calls for an expansion of the delivery center on the Airbus campus, where more than 120 Alabama-made A320 Family aircraft have already been delivered to eight U.S.-based airline customers.

“This will be a nice enhancement to the facility there and will bring a little more prominence and ceremony to the delivery of aircraft in Mobile,” Ellis said.

Once the new facility is at full production, Airbus plans to build four A220 aircraft each month.

The company is hiring more than 400 new workers to staff the new assembly line and is also adding jobs to increase production of A320 Family aircraft in Alabama. Read a story on Airbus’ hiring plans.

MEETING GOALS

The A220 project’s accelerated timeline has prompted HPM to take a different approach than the one it used with the original assembly line.

“This is a bit more streamlined. We are designing while building, while we are prepping for equipment to be installed, so that as soon as things are tested and approved, we can begin working with the operations team to bring aircraft through the facility,” Ellis said.

Another challenge for HPM is that the heavy-duty construction work must be performed on the site of a major manufacturing facility.

“We cannot in any way, shape, form or fashion impact their ongoing operations. That is a unique challenge in and of itself,” he said.

‘LAUNCHING PAD’

Since completing the A320 assembly line project for Airbus, HPM has been involved in several large-scale aerospace and aviation projects, including Aerojet Rocketdyne’s new advanced manufacturing facility in Huntsville, and expansion projects for MRO companies VT MAE and HAECO America.

Earlier this year, HPM was selected to help Boom Aviation locate, design and build a manufacturing facility for its planned supersonic airliner. Two years ago, HPM began its work alongside the properties and facilities teams of FedEx Express throughout the U.S. managing airport and runway projects, enhancing sorting facilities and renovating offices.

“The A320 project was really our launching pad into aerospace and aviation,” Ellis said.

Since then, HPM has also worked with global manufacturers such as Continental Tire and Mercedes-Benz, which is adding a second campus to its industrial footprint in Alabama.

“When you work for an international client the size and magnitude of Airbus, and you satisfy and please them, the rest of the world stands up and takes notice,” Ellis said.

(Courtesy of Made in Alabama)

5 hours ago

Fmr Gov. Don Siegelman appears to be using outrage over George Floyd to sell new book

Former Alabama Governor Don Siegelman to sell his new book is using robocalls that appear to reference the current unrest over George Floyd’s death while in Minneapolis police custody.

On Thursday afternoon, a Yellowhammer News reporter received a robocall from 1 (800) 890-5875, a number listed as “Robocaller” by the phone protection company NoMoRobo. The voiceover of the robocall was apparently recorded by Siegelman himself.

The message began, “Don Siegelman, your governor here. We’ve got to protect people from the abuse of power by police, prosecutors, or presidents.”

“My new book, Stealing our Democracy, is a wakeup call to action. It’s also number one among new releases on amazon.com,” the message added.

252

An individual from the Wiregrass told Yellowhammer News that she also received the voicemail.

In addition to that, at least one Twitter user appeared to have received the robocall.

Siegelman was convicted on June 29, 2006, of conspiracy, bribery and fraud.

The former Alabama Democratic governor appeared to lump in his claimed unjust treatment by the authorities with the death of George Floyd.

Listen:

Siegelman is currently promoting his new book “Stealing Our Democracy.”

Yellowhammer News’ request for comment from Siegelman was not immediately returned. A message was left on his personal cell phone number.

He claimed the book is “#1 among new releases on amazon.com”

Yellowhammer News examined the new releases chart on Amazon.com, which revealed that Siegelman’s book is not in the top 100 best selling new releases.

However, the book is #1 in the sub-subcategory “Urban, State & Local Government Law.”

Urban, State & Local Government Law is one of 12 sub-subcategories of the “Administrative Law” subcategory.

The “Administrative Law” subcategory is one of 23 subcategories under the category “Law.”

“Law” is one of 36 categories into which Amazon divides the kinds new-release books that it sells.

As a matter of record, the book is only available for pre-order. It has not been released to the public yet.

The former governor’s book claims that his downfall and conviction of felony bribery were part of a politically motivated prosecution coordinated by Karl Rove.

His book will be released to the public on June 16.

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

6 hours ago

Two charged with capital murder in slaying of Moody PD officer

Two suspects have been charged with capital murder in the case of slain Moody Police Department officer Stephen Williams.

The two suspects are 27-year-old male Tapero Corlene Johnson and 28-year-old female Marquisha Anissa Tyson. Both are from Birmingham and will be eligible for the death penalty if convicted.

At a press conference Friday, St. Clair County Sheriff Billy Murray described said the investigation is still continuing and described it as “complex and intense.”

158

Williams was posthumously promoted to lieutenant at the press conference on Thursday by Moody Police Chief Thomas Hunt.

Hunt said Williams had remarked at times that he would like to achieve the rank of lieutenant someday, and now he will forever be known as Lt. Stephen Williams.

The District Attorney for St. Clair County said the two suspects had been in police custody since the shooting on Tuesday night.

Investigators say they have determined that Johnson and Tyson fired weapons at Williams who was responding to a disturbance at a Super 8 Motel.

A GoFundMe page to help Williams’ family has been raising money in recent days.

Williams served the public as a police officer for 23 years before being killed in the line of duty this week.

Governor Kay Ivey commented on the incident earlier in the week, saying Williams “died a hero.”

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

7 hours ago

Data shows Alabama nursing homes performing better than national average for COVID-19 cases, deaths

The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services on Thursday released facility-specific COVID-19 data for nursing homes across the United States, and an analysis of the data shows Alabama fairing better than the national average.

The data was collected on a mandatory basis by the CDC and currently covers through the week ending on May 31.

Nationwide, the average number of confirmed coronavirus cases per 1,000 residents in nursing homes was 91.2, while the average number of deaths from the disease per 1,000 residents was 30.2.

339

In Alabama, both of those numbers were significantly lower than the national average, at 64.9 and 20.9, respectively.

Alabama Nursing Home Association president and CEO Brandon Farmer issued a statement on the data’s release.

“According to the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS), Alabama nursing homes report fewer cases of COVID-19 per 1,000 residents and fewer deaths from COVID-19 per 1,000 residents than the national average,” he confirmed.

“Because we are on the front lines of fighting COVID-19, we expect the number of COVID-19 cases to rise as more tests are administered and the data is added to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) system. The Alabama Nursing Home Association hopes this data will be used to prioritize resources for skilled nursing facilities,” Farmer advised.

“Alabama nursing homes have been transparent from the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic,” he continued. “Our members have reported cases to their local county health department and the Alabama Department of Public Health from the start. In May, we began reporting cases to the CDC. Facilities also inform residents and their family representatives and employees of cases in their buildings. We are following the guidelines set forth by the multiple state and federal agencies that regulate our sector. No other business or health care provider reports COVID-19 cases to more government entities and people than nursing homes.”

Nationwide, nursing homes reported 95,515 confirmed COVID-19 cases and 31,782 deaths through May 31. Nursing homes in Alabama reported 1,000 confirmed cases and 335 deaths.

Moving forward, CMS will release the next round of data on June 18. After that date, new data should be released weekly.

“The Alabama Nursing Home Association and its members will continue to work with local, state and federal leaders to address the needs of nursing home residents and employees,” Farmer concluded.

The CMS data can be viewed here.

As of Friday at 2:00 p.m., the Alabama Department of Public Health reported 19,073 total confirmed COVID-19 cases in the state, with 672 deaths.

Sean Ross is the editor of Yellowhammer News. You can follow him on Twitter @sean_yhn

7 hours ago

NFIB survey of Alabama business owners shows ongoing COVID-19 related fears

A new study from the National Federation of Independent Businesses (NFIB) showed that an overwhelming majority of proprietors are nervous about several aspects of how the coronavirus pandemic is affecting their business.

Yellowhammer News reported in the first week of May that 70% of the NFIB’s membership across the United States was concerned about individuals filing frivolous lawsuits claiming a business had caused them to catch COVID-19.

A poll from the Alabama division of NFIB this week shows that 69% of businesses in the Yellowhammer State remain nervous about lawsuits, and roughly equal amounts are worried whether customers might come back and that it may prove difficult to comply with ongoing regulations.

192

The top results of the survey as follows:

  • 70% of owners say they’re very or moderately concerned about getting customers back.
  • 69% are concerned about managing the health and safety of their customers; 66% are concerned about managing the health and safety of employees.
  • 69% are concerned with having to comply with new regulations related to the coronavirus.
  • 68% are concerned about finding an adequate supply of supplies such as hand sanitizer and disinfectant.

NFIB state director Rosemary Elebash told Yellowhammer News Friday that the survey was administered to businesses in every county and every city with a significant population.

“It wasn’t just NFIB members,” Elebash added about the survey, saying the group had worked with a number of trade associations to increase the amount of responses.

The NFIB also continues to strongly support Senator Arthur Orr’s (R-Decatur) bill to grant civil immunity from COVID-19 lawsuits to businesses in Alabama.

Elebash noted in a release that Orr’s bill would be “one of NFIB’s top priorities” if Governor Kay Ivey calls a special session later in the year.

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

8 hours ago

Tuberville: Nationwide unrest linked to ‘education and jobs’

Many argue there is much more to the civil unrest across the nation than the lone incident in Minneapolis involving the death of George Floyd while in the custody of the police department. Former Auburn head football coach Tommy Tuberville indicated he agrees with that.

During an appearance on Huntsville WVNN’s “The Jeff Poor Show,” Tuberville, a candidate for U.S. Senate, said based on his interactions with people on the campaign trail, there is a longing to get back to a sense of normalcy in the wake of the heights of the COVID-19 pandemic.

“I speak to eight to ten places a day — groups are worried, obviously. I think they’re getting a little more confident they can go out and be around other people,” he said. “And we’re just hoping we can just put this pandemic, and it is a problem, it is serious — again, you’ve got to protect yourself. It’s not going away. It is still here, especially if you’re having health problems and those things. That will go away — but then all of a sudden we get hit with this civil unrest, and again — we’re all Americans. We’re all in this together. We’ve got to find a solution.”

234

Tuberville said he is asked for his thoughts by voters while on the trail, to which he said he points to “education and jobs,” and the erosion of the American middle class.

“I had a group ask me today, ‘Coach, what do you think the problem is?’ Education and jobs. We don’t have a middle class anymore,” Tuberville stated. “There are people out there that don’t have the opportunity to advance in this country like they want to. This is not a black issue. This is not a white issue. This is an American issue. We shipped our jobs to China, bottom line. We’re finding out more and more about that every day, and we’ve got to give the opportunity for young men and women to have a chance to grow in this country, and give them a fair chance. Unfortunately, our middle class has dissipated. We have more drugs in this country, and a lot of people take other options. We got to understand — we’re all in this together, 340 million people. We’re either going to make it together or not make together.”

@Jeff_Poor is a graduate of Auburn University and the University of South Alabama, the editor of Breitbart TV, a columnist for Mobile’s Lagniappe Weekly and host of Huntsville’s “The Jeff Poor Show” from 2-5 p.m. on WVNN.