Airbus could soon begin production of its first narrowbody for American Airlines, according to a request by the carrier for approval to make a multi-million-dollar pre-delivery payment.

The airline in July 2011 unveiled a major fleet renewal plan that could add at least 550 and as many as 1,000 narrowbodies to its operations in the coming decade. In a then-surprising move, American split the order between Airbus and Boeing after years of relying on U.S. manufacturers to supply its single-aisle mainline aircraft.

These orders are a core tenet of American’s restructuring, and even after parent company AMR Corp. filed for Chapter 11 protection in November, the airline’s management has continued to reference the new fleet as the foundation of its revival.

But Chapter 11 imposes restrictions on debt payments, so AMR has asked its bankruptcy court to approve $162 million in periodic pre-delivery payments. And while AMR is withholding exact details of how these payments apply to each manufacturer, it confirms that it “expects Airbus to begin to manufacture aircraft, on the debtor’s [AMR’s] behalf, pursuant to the purchase agreement.”

AMR also notes that Boeing has continued to build and deliver aircraft even though the Chapter 11 filing has stalled payments.

The Airbus declaration is interesting because American’s order was retracted from the European manufacturer order book at the beginning of this year, just months after 130 aircraft from the 260 ordered from Airbus were added to the list. No explanation has been given for that deletion.

Despite this, American has maintained that the aircraft are on order, and it is understood the carrier expected to take delivery of 11 A319s in 2013.