Airbus Industrie, the world's second-largest producer of commercial aircraft, will begin construction today on a Loudoun County facility that will eventually house its North American headquarters, a flight training center and a spare-parts distribution center.
"We envision a corporate campus out there," Robert A. Wentworth, an Airbus finance manager who is overseeing the project, said yesterday. "It would be our whole North American operation."
Airbus Industrie, a European commercial aircraft consortium headquartered in Toulouse, France, will build the first phase of the facility, a $5 million spare-parts distribution center for its North American customers, on six acres in the Beaumeade Corporate Park in Ashburn.
The spare-parts center, which will employ about 50 people and stock about $25 million in parts, is expected to be completed in late March, Wentworth said.
The company, which has about 200 North American employees, now rents space in Herndon for its headquarters and parts distribution center, and it operates its flight training center for cockpit, cabin, ground and maintenance crews in Miami. It had searched for about a year for a location to consolidate these enterprises, Wentworth said.
He said Airbus Industrie found the Beaumeade location attractive primarily because it's only about two miles from Dulles International Airport. The company joins British Aerospace Inc., UAL Corp., Saab Aircraft and Dornier Aviation, all of which have branches within a few miles of the airport.
"Obviously, we're delighted," Pam Treadwell, a specialist in Loudoun County's Office of Economic Development, said of the Airbus move. "It's a reflection basically of the impact of the airport."
Airbus Industrie, which has more than 60 factories and 28,000 employees worldwide, builds aircraft ranging in size from 150 to 335 seats. It has supplied about 1,600 aircraft to about 100 customers around the world, including Eastern Air Lines Inc., Pan Am Corp., American Airlines Inc. and Northwest Airlines Inc.
The timetable and cost for the second and third phases of the Airbus project is still unclear. Wentworth said the company has an option to buy 13 additional acres when it is ready to build the headquarters and training complex, but he said it has not been decided which would come first.
Nor has the company decided if it will close its training center in Miami or keep it open when the Loudoun facility opens, he said. Its staff will remain at about 200 people, and any expansion in this area would come from transfers of employees from Miami.