Saturday, May 19, 2018

Week in review (5/13 to 5/19)

Remember the battle between Boeing and Airbus over the contract to build Air Force aerial tankers? As a refresher, Airbus in 2008 won the contract to build them in Mobile, Ala., but lost it in 2011 in the wake of a protest by Boeing. The tankers are now being built in Everett, Wash.

As anyone who has followed aviation will tell you, Mobile arguably got a better deal in the long-run when Airbus decided to leverage its relationship with Mobile and build A320 series jetliners in the city. The company began churning them out a couple of years ago, and is now producing four a month. Now it’s getting ready to increase that, and Mobile also will be the site where CSeries jetliners for Canada's Bombardier will be built.

And the Boeing KC-46 aerial tanker? Seven years since the contract award, no deliveries yet. Aviation Week reported during the week that Boeing says it's on the cusp of delivering a game-changing tanker capability. But the Air Force says Boeing has to resolve significant design flaws and is far from completing the required flight testing.

Boeing and the Air Force disagree on the delivery timing and what work remains. Boeing says it will deliver of first 18 KC-46 planes by the end of the year, but the Air Force expects them by May 2019, 21 months later than originally planned.

You can read the May 14 Aviation Week story here.

Speaking of Airbus and Boeing, the U.S. during the week won a trade case challenging subsidies that European Union nations had provided Airbus to develop A350 and A380 jetliners. The ruling affirmed a 2016 World Trade Organization ruling that the EU failed to eliminate unfair funding for the two Airbus models. The next stage of the 14-year battle will be over the size of the tariffs the U.S. will be allowed to impose to compensate for lost exports.

But this whole affair is far from over. Later this year, the WTO is expected to issue a final ruling in a separate case in which the EU challenged billions of dollars in U.S. aid to Boeing. The EU won the first round in that court battle. (Post)


Space
NASA's Space Launch System program may be facing a new delay.

NASA discovered a contamination problem with tubing in part of the core stage of the first Space Launch System vehicle. According to SpaceNews, a routine inspection of the core stage being built at Michoud Assembly Facility in New Orleans found contamination in the engine section that holds the SLS’s four RS-25 engines and associated systems.

The contaminant is paraffin wax, used to keep the tubes from crimping while being manufactured. The prime contractor, Boeing, determined the unnamed vendor was not fully cleaning the tubes as required. The contamination was initially found in a single tube, but later checks found similar residue in other tubes. All the tubing in the core stage is now being inspected and cleaned.

NASA previously said it expects the core stage to be completed and shipped to Stennis Space Center, Miss., at the end of this year for a green run engine tests by mid-2019. (Post)

-- NASA has announced some leadership changes at Stennis Space Center. John Bailey will assume the role of associate director following the retirement of Ken Human, effective May 31.

Bailey, a native of Mobile, Ala., and resident of Picayune, Miss., previously served as Stennis Engineering and Test Directorate director. Human, a resident of Covington, La., has served almost 40 years with NASA and was named as Stennis associate director in 2010. Bailey will be succeeded as director of the Engineering and Test Directorate by Joe Schuyler, who has served as the department deputy since 2016. (Post)


Economic development
Another MRO is coming to the region.

Gov John Bel Edwards of Louisiana said Citadel Completions LLC will make a $17.6 million investment and hire more than 250 people for an aircraft center for interior jet modifications and maintenance at Chennault International Airport in Lake Charles, three west of New Orleans along Interstate 10.

The company estimates the new jobs will have an average annual salary of $80,000, plus benefits. Louisiana Economic Development estimates the project will result in an additional 347 indirect jobs. Hiring for the project is underway, with Citadel Completions expecting to begin operations by the third quarter of 2018. (Post)

One of the newest MRO in the region, VTMAE in Pensacola, will be opening this summer.

Military
The Air Force trying to determine how best to acquire more PGU-14 ammunition, currently made by Orbital ATK, for the A-10. Its existing bullet inventory, some 32 years old, is beginning to age out, said Bob DuPont of the 780th Test Squadron's guns and missiles department at Eglin Air Force Base, Fla.

It is unknown if the Air Force will stick with 30mm depleted-uranium bullets or if it will switch to a tungsten round. Depleted uranium is used for its ability to pierce armored vehicles, as it is 60 percent more dense than lead. Tungsten is comparable to uranium but a bit less dense, so manufacturers must balance out the weight to match today's PGU-14 rounds, which weigh roughly 14 ounces each.

The service is reaching out to the defense industry to see if adding a mix of alloy samples will allow tungsten to meet requirements. DU PGU-14 bullets are tested every two years on the base's northern range in a controlled fire exercise, required by the Pentagon for the ammo to be recertified for use in combat. (Post)

-- The U.S. Army Garrison at Fort Rucker, Ala., was among five installations to win the 2018 Commander in Chief’s Annual Award for Installation Excellence. Fort Rucker in South Alabama is the primary flight training base for Army aviators.

The awards recognize the outstanding and innovative efforts of the people who operate and maintain U.S. military installations. The five recipients were selected for their exemplary support of Department of Defense missions.

The other bases to be recognized are Marine Corps Air Station Miramar, Calif., Naval Air Station Whidbey Island, Wash., Davis-Monthan Air Force Base, Ariz., and Defense Distribution Depot San Joaquin, Calif. (Post)

-- Four AC-130U Spooky gunship crews with the 4th Special Operations Squadron were awarded Distinguished Flying Crosses for four separate engagements in Afghanistan spanning less than one year. Twenty-four airmen were awarded the honors during a May 11 ceremony. Three airmen were unable to attend. The DFC is awarded to any officer or enlisted personnel of the U.S. Armed Forces who have distinguished themselves in combat aerial operations. (Post)

-- The Snowbirds flight demonstration team, Canada’s 431st Air Demonstration Squadron, made a rare appearance at Naval Air Station Pensacola, Fla., during the week. The visit to the home of the Navy Blue Angels flight demonstration team, included practice sessions opened to the public. The Blue Angels practice schedule was modified to accommodate both teams. The Snowbirds use CT-114 Tutors, a Canadian-built jet. (Post)


Education
The grand opening ceremony for the Gen. Daniel "Chappie" James Museum and Flight Academy in Pensacola, Fla., is scheduled for June 7 at 10 a.m. The city-owned site is the historic home of America's first African-American four-star general, Daniel "Chappie" James Jr., and was donated to the city by the family.

The residence, listed on the National Register of Historic Places, was built in 1909 by James’ father, Daniel James Sr., and is located at 1608 Martin Luther King Jr. Blvd. The Community Redevelopment Agency restored the original 900 square-foot home to house a museum.

A new 1,500 sq. foot addition is now the home of the flight academy, which has been offering young people of Pensacola opportunities to train to be aviators for over two decades through their free one-week summer camps. The Flight Academy's classrooms, which are to be equipped with computers and flight simulator programs, will have its first summer camp at the new location June 11-16, 2018. (Post)


Contracts
L3 Communications Vertex Aerospace LLC, Madison, Miss., was awarded a $42.3 million modification to a previously awarded contract to exercise an option for the organizational and depot level logistics services required to support and maintain the TH-57 fleet. Work will be performed at the Naval Air Station Whiting Field, Milton, Fla., and is expected to be completed in November 2018. The Naval Air Warfare Center Training Systems Division, Orlando, Fla., is the contracting activity. … Georgia Tech Applied Research Corp., Atlanta, has been awarded a $25.4 million modification to a previously awarded contract for an increase in the indefinite delivery/indefinite-quantity ceiling. This modification provides for research, analysis, integration, systems engineering, development, flyable and non-flyable technology demonstrators, prototypes, test and evaluation, and rapid delivery of cutting-edge weapon solutions to the Department of Defense to counter emerging threats affecting national security. Work will be performed in Atlanta and is expected to be complete by December 2020. Air Force Research Laboratory, Munitions Directorate, Eglin Air Force Base, Fla., is the contracting activity. … Northrop Grumman Systems Corp., San Diego, Calif., was awarded a $45 million advance acquisition contract for long-lead materials components, material, parts, and associated efforts required to maintain the MQ-4C Triton unmanned aircraft system planned production schedule. Work will be done in California, West Virginia, Maryland, Utah, Texas, Ohio and various locations in the continental U.S. and locations outside the continental U.S., and is expected to be completed in January 2019. The Naval Air Systems Command, Patuxent River, Md., is the contracting activity. Northrop Grumman does fuselage work on the Triton in Moss Point, Miss. … Lockheed Martin Aeronautics Co., Fort Worth, Texas, was awarded $24 million for a modification to a previously awarded contract for the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter Verification Simulation F-35 In-A-Box (FIAB) Phase II for delivery of the FIAB software model, software license fees, and continued FIAB software model development, integration, and support. Work will be performed in Fort Worth and Marietta, Ga., and is expected to be completed in September 2018. The Naval Air Systems Command, Patuxent River, Md., is the contracting activity. Eglin Air Force Base, Fla., is home of the F-35 integrated training center. … The Boeing Corp., St. Louis, Mo., was awarded a $16.2 million modification to a previously awarded contract for the exercise of an option for BLU-127 warhead cases. This contract modification provides for the procurement of BLU-127 warhead cases, and brings the total cumulative face value of the contract to $37,151,052. Work will be performed in St. Louis and is expected to be complete by July 31, 2020. Air Force Life Cycle Management Center, Eglin Air Force Base, Fla., is the contracting activity.

Saturday, May 12, 2018

Week in review (5/6 to 5/12)

When it came to aerospace and aviation stories of interest to the Gulf Coast during the week, it was dominated by military-related items.

In Washington, the House Armed Services Committee approved plans for a $716 billion defense authorization bill for fiscal year 2019 by a 60–1 vote. Among other things, it provides the largest military pay raise in nine years. It now it heads for a vote by the full House later this month and negotiations will the Senate later this year. (Story)

Rep. Matt Gaetz (R-Fla), a member of the committee, said in a newsletter to constituents that the measure is a big victory for Northwest Florida. It includes $10 million for refurbishing the North Field Air Traffic Control Tower at Naval Air Station Whiting Field; $60 million for F-35A spare parts at Eglin Air Force Base; $34.8 million for F-35A Integrated Training Center Academics Building at Eglin; $28 million for F-35A Student Dormitory II at Eglin; and $31.9 million for Eglin Test Range Modernization.

Meanwhile in Pensacola, six admirals shared their thoughts on the future of Navy aviation Friday on the last day of the National Naval Aviation Museum's 2018 Symposium. Participating in a panel discussion, they told hundreds of young Navy and Marine flight students that the aircraft they fly and technology they use will change, but the fundamentals remain the fight-to-win mentality. The Pensacola News Journal has a summary on the comments by each of the admirals. (Story)

Over at Eglin Air Force Base, one of the busiest F-35 training units is hoping the Air Force can relieve some of the pressures of training student pilots with ineffective resources. The 33rd Fighter Wing, leading training wing for F-35 student pilots, hopes to receive additional F-35A fighters, along with considerable upgrades to its existing fleet, to keep up with training demands, said Col. Paul Moga, commander of the 33rd Fighter Wing.

Moga told Military.com the unit has found smarter ways inside the existing structure of the 33rd to get more quality sorties into the curriculum despite limitations. "We're the first Air Force wing to start doing what we call 'hot swaps,'" Moga said, referring to different student/instructor pairs swapping out for back-to-back flights in a single aircraft in order to save time and execute more sorties.

The 33rd has 25 F-35As and the Navy, which also has a presence on the base and sends pilots through the training pipeline here, keeps 8 F-35Cs on station. The wing is authorized to have 59 aircraft. The fifth-generation stealth plane arrived here in 2011 and made the 33rd Fighter Wing the first U.S. F-35 training unit. The first class of student pilots started training in 2013. The planes, part of the first low rate initial production batch, need additional work. (Post)


Contracts
Bell Helicopter Textron Inc., Fort Worth, Texas, was awarded a $21.7 million modification to a previously awarded contract. This modification increases the quantity of Bell 407 variant commercial airframes through fiscal 2020 by seven in support of the MQ-8C Fire Scout unmanned air system program of record. Work will be performed in Ozark, Ala., and is expected to be completed in December 2020. The Naval Air Systems Command, Patuxent River, Md., is the contracting activity. Finishing work on Fire Scouts is done in Moss Point, Miss. … Bullock Tice Associates Inc., Pensacola, Fla., was among the companies that will compete for each order of a $49 million contract for architect and engineering services. U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, Mobile, Ala., is the contracting activity.

Saturday, April 28, 2018

Week in review (4/22 to 4/28)

BP oil spill restitution money will help fuel a surge in workforce training in Northwest Florida, notably in aerospace and aviation.

Triumph Gulf Coast, the organization charged with overseeing the distribution of the money BP is paying in the wake of the 2010 oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico, approved $3 million in funding for Escambia County School District and Pensacola State College for workforce development.

The funding will allow both to expand its pipeline for training and certifying students for careers in fields like information technology, cybersecurity, advanced manufacturing and aerospace/aviation.

The money will allow the district to build a new aviation maintenance training hangar for adult students at George Stone Technical Center and to provide aviation maintenance education at Booker T. Washington High School and more.

The grant was one of the first four projects approved in what is expected to be $1.5 billion worth of job-creating initiatives funded over the next 12 years by an economic damages settlement between the state and BP.

The Triumph board in all approved nearly $19 million in grants, including $10 million to the Port of Panama City for a major expansion of port capacity, $1.5 million to improve infrastructure and attract businesses in Okaloosa County, and almost $4 million for workforce development in Wakulla County. (Post)


Contracts
It was a busy week for Defense Department contracts impacting the region, with several involved in aerial weapons and others related to the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter.

General Dynamics, Ordnance and Tactical Systems, Niceville, Fla., was awarded a $23.3 million initial production modification to a previously awarded contract for BLU-134/B improved lethality warhead. Work will be performed in Niceville and is expected to be complete by Oct. 26, 2019. Air Force Life Cycle Management Center, Eglin Air Force Base, Fla., is the contracting activity. … The Boeing Co., St. Louis, Mo., was awarded an $11.3 million modification to a previously awarded contract for Joint Attack Direct Munition (JDAM) high compact telemetry modules. Work will be performed in San Diego, Calif., and is expected to be complete by October 2019. The Air Force Life Cycle Management Center, Eglin Air Force Base, Fla., is the contracting activity. … Raytheon Missile Systems, Tucson, Ariz., was awarded two contracts for aerial weapons. One was an $8.5 million modification to a previously awarded contract for Small Diameter Bomb Increment II. Air Force Life Cycle Management Center, Eglin Air Force Base, Fla., is the contracting activity. The other was a $12 million contract modification to a previously awarded contract for Advanced Medium Range Air to Air Missile (AMRAAM) Production Lot 32 field spares and initial depot spares. Work will be performed in Tucson and is expected to be complete by Jan. 31, 2021. Air Force Life Cycle Management Center, Air Dominance Contracting Office, Eglin Air Force Base, Fla., is the contracting activity. … Lockheed Martin Aeronautics Co., Fort Worth, Texas, was awarded two contracts for the F-35. One was a $38.5 million modification to the previously awarded F-35 Lightning II Joint Strike Fighter advance acquisition contract. Work will be done in Texas, California, Florida, the United Kingdom, New Hampshire, Japan and Maryland and is expected to be completed in December 2019. The other was a $10.9 million modification to a previously awarded contract. This modification provides additional funding for flight test software sustainment in support of the F-35 Lightning II joint strike fighter aircraft for the Air Force, Marine Corps, Navy and non-Department of Defense (DoD) participants. Work will be performed in Texas, the United Kingdom, Florida, California and South Carolina and is expected to be completed in April 2018. The Naval Air Systems Command, Patuxent River, Md., is the contracting activity. Eglin Air Force Base, Fla., is home of the F-35 integrated training center and reprogramming labs. … DynCorp International, Fort Worth, Texas was awarded a $59.6 million modification to a previously awarded contract for continued contractor operated and maintained base supply support. Work will be performed at Columbus Air Force Base, Miss.; Laughlin Air Force Base, Texas; Randolph Air Force Base, Texas; Sheppard Air Force Base, Texas; Vance Air Force Base, Okla.; Naval Air Station Pensacola, Fla.; Naval Air Station Whiting Field, Fla.; Naval Air Station Corpus Christi, Texas; Naval Air Station Patuxent River, Md.; and Army Flight Test Directorate, Redstone Arsenal, Ala. Work is expected to be completed by Aug. 31, 2018. Air Force Life Cycle Management Center, Training Aircraft Division, Wright Patterson Air Force Base, Ohio, is the contracting activity.

Saturday, April 21, 2018

Week in review (4/15 to 4/21)

There had been talk that SpaceX might put the manufacturing facility for its giant "BFR" Mars rocket along the Gulf Coast, specifically at NASA's Michoud Assembly Facility. That seemed possible since the company is using nearby Stennis Space Center, Miss., to develop its next generation rocket engine.

But it's going to the Port of Los Angeles instead, some 20 miles from corporate headquarters in Hawthorne, Calif. The water access was key to the decision. After the Big Falcon Rocket is built and ready for launch, it will travel by barge to Kennedy Space Center, Fla.

The company during the week finalized the deal with the port to lease 19 acres, where it will build a 200,000-square-foot hangar for production of the BFR, a nearly 350-foot tall rocket and spaceship. Production of the rocket will begin in two or three years. The operation will employ up to 700 people.

This is a really big rocket. It will be powered by 31 main engines and its spaceship will be designed to carry 100 people. Yes, you read that right – 100. And it will be reuseable, which SpaceX has already proven to be practical.

In addition to California and Louisiana, SpaceX was considering Texas and Florida.

You can find stories about this in Florida Today, the Los Angeles Times and Digital Trends.

The engines that will power both stages of this rocket are the next-generation Raptor engine, which is being developed by SpaceX in part at Stennis Space Center, Miss. The company is using the E-2 test stand at SSC.

-- Speaking of space, NASA finally has a new administrator. The Senate confirmed Rep. Jim Bridenstine to be the 13th NASA administrator. The partisan vote was 50 to 39.

Democrats opposed Bridenstine, President Trump's nominee, because he's not a "space professional." Bridenstine had previously said he's an advocate of the current Space Launch System program and NASA working with commercial space companies.

NASA's acting administrator, Robert Lightfoot, is nearing retirement. Stennis Space Center, Miss., and Michoud Assembly Facility, New Orleans, are both involved in the SLS/Orion program as well as commercial space activities. (Post)


Military
Hypersonic weapons got a lot of press coverage in March when Russia's Putin, ahead of the elections, bragged that his country had them. He said they have unlimited range and are invincible - they simply can't be stopped. That Russia is developing the weapons is no surprise to anyone who follows defense issue. The United States is also developing them.

During the week Lockheed Martin Corp., Lockheed Martin Space, Huntsville, Ala., was the successful bidder for a $928 million contract for a hypersonic conventional strike weapon. The contract provides for the design, development, engineering, systems integration, test, logistics planning, and aircraft integration support of all the elements of a hypersonic, conventional, air-launched, stand-off weapon.

Work will be performed in Huntsville, but the contracting activity is the Air Force Life Cycle Management at Eglin Air Force Base, Fla.

The award was the result of a competitive acquisition and three offers were received. Fiscal 2018 research, development, test and evaluation funds will be obligated at the time of award on the first task order. (Post)

-- Cmdr. Stephen Audelo this week turned over command of Helicopter Training Squadron Eight (HT-8) of Naval Air Station Whiting Field, Fla., to Cmdr. Jessica Parker during a ceremony at Naval Air Station Pensacola's Naval Aviation Museum.

HT-8 is the Navy's oldest currently active helicopter training squadron, responsible for flying more than 26,000 flight hours and graduating an estimated 168 Naval aviators every year. Cmdr. Lena Kaman became the new executive officer of HT-8. (Post)

-- The Defense Department is honoring nine winners with the 2018 Secretary of Defense Environmental Awards for exceptional environmental achievements and innovative, cost-effective environmental practices.

Among the winners is Frederick A. Javier, 1st Special Operations Civil Engineer Squadron, Hurlburt Field, Fla., who provided outstanding leadership by training installation staff on environmental management and engaging with the local community to promote DoD’s mission and science education.

The department has honored individuals, teams and installations each year since 1962 for remarkable achievements in these environmental management strategies that successfully support mission readiness. (Post)


Airports
Frontier Airlines and Pensacola International Airport are holding an inaugural celebration to kick off Frontier’s nonstop service to and from Denver international Airport and Chicago O’Hare International Airport. The inaugural event will be April 24, at 3 p.m. at the company’s ticket counter. (Post)


Contracts
Vectrus Systems Corp., Colorado Springs, Colo., was awarded a $15.8 million modification to a previously awarded contract for Keesler Air Force Base, Miss., operations support services. This modification provides for exercise of the second option, and brings the total cumulative face value of the contract to $32,989,794. Work will be performed at Keesler and is expected to be complete by May 31, 2019. The 81st Contracting Squadron, Keesler AFB, is the contracting activity. … L3 Communication, Vertex Aerospace, Madison, Miss., was awarded a $30 million modification to a previously awarded contract for contractor logistics support of the Air Force C-12 fleet. Work will be performed at a variety of locations, including Madison. Air Force Lifecycle Management Center, Tinker Air Force Base, Okla., is the contracting activity. … Rockwell Collins Inc., Cedar Rapids, Iowa, was awarded a $15.2 million modification to a previously awarded contract to support the third production lot of the Common Range Integrated Instrumentation System for upgrading the test and evaluation instrumentation at Air Force, Navy and Army test ranges. Air Force Life Cycle Management Center, Armament Directorate, Eglin Air Force Base, Fla., is the contracting activity.

Saturday, April 14, 2018

Week in review (4/8 to 4/14)

The April issue of the eight-page Gulf Coast Aerospace Newsletter will be published Monday. The cover story is about the aerospace activities in Florida, one of the leading states in the nation for aerospace and aviation.

The four-page article is the fourth and final installment in our series focusing on aerospace in the four states that are members of the Aerospace Alliance. Previous issues highlighted the aerospace footprints of Louisiana, Mississippi and Alabama.

Florida is best known for its space activities in and around the Space Coast, but that's just one part of the state's vast aviation footprint. The story provides insight into the activities in four aerospace regions: Northwest, Northeast, Central and South Florida. The state, you’ll find, is the nation’s leader in maintenance, repair and overhaul operations, and the newest one is in Pensacola.

The newsletter also has an update on the Airbus-Bombardier partnership, which will bring a second aircraft assembly line to Mobile, Ala. Interestingly, Mobile is the newest hub building jetliners, but now it's about to be a trendsetter as the only city in the nation that will be building jetliners for two different companies. Kinda makes me smile when I think of the time Sen. Patty Murray (D-Wash.) said they don't build anything in Alabama. That was back in 2009 when Boeing was competing against Airbus to build Air Force tankers.

We also have an analysis on some of the key stories that occurred since the last newsletter in February, ranging from Relativity’s agreement to use the partially built E-4 Test Facility at Stennis Space Center, Miss., to a couple of stories that are important on the education front.

If you're not a newsletter subscriber, drop me a line and I'll add you to our email list. The PDF will be sent directly to your inbox when it's published. Or you can check our website, Gulf Coast Aerospace Corridor, and download the PDF late Monday or Tuesday.


Now here's your week in review, which amounts to a contracts review:

Contracts
Speegle Construction Inc.
, Niceville, Fla., was awarded a $15.1 million foreign military sales (United Arab Emirates, Bahrain, Belgium, Chile, Denmark, Egypt, France, Greece, India, Iraq, Japan, Jordan, South Korea, Morocco, Oman, Netherlands, Norway, Pakistan, Poland, Portugal, Qatar, Singapore, Thailand, Taiwan, and Turkey) contract for the construction of a foreign military sales facility at Eglin Air Force Base, Fla. Work will be performed in Eglin with an estimated completion date of Oct. 3, 2019. U.S. Army
Corps of Engineers, Mobile, Ala., is the contracting activity. … Lockheed Martin Missiles and Fire Control, Orlando, Fla., was awarded a $13.9 million incentive modification to a previously awarded contract for Long Range Anti-Ship Missile (LRASM) Lot 1 production. Work will be performed in Orlando and is expected to be complete by Feb. 28, 2020. Air Force Life Cycle Management Center, Eglin Air
Force Base, Fla., is the contracting activity.

Saturday, April 7, 2018

Week in review (4/1 to 4/7)

The death of a Thunderbird pilot who had been an F-35 pilot at Eglin Air Force Base, the expansion of a Wright Patterson education program to this region, and new leadership at for Army aviation at Fort Rucker were among the news stories of interest to the Gulf Coast aerospace corridor during the week.

Here's your week in review:


Military
It was a tough week for military aviation personnel.

The Thunderbirds pilot killed in a crash in Nevada was identified as Maj. Stephen Del Bagno, who had joined the team this season. Before joining the team, Del Bagno served as an F-35A Evaluator Pilot and Chief of Standardization and Evaluation, 58th Fighter Squadron, Eglin Air Force Base, Fla.

He was alone in the F-16 Fighting Falcon when it left Nellis Air Force Base and crashed at the Nevada Test and Training Range. (Post)

Earlier in the week, four Marines were killed when a CH-53E Super Stallion helicopter crashed near El Centro, Calif. The personnel killed were identified as Capt. Samuel A. Schultz, 1st Lt. Samuel D. Phillips, Gunnery Sgt. Derik R. Holley, and Lance Cpl. Taylor J. Conrad, all with Marine Heavy Helicopter Squadron 465 at Marine Corps Air Station Miramar.

Three have Gulf Coast ties. Schultz, 28, of Huntington Valley, Pa., and Phillips, 27, of Pinehurst, N.C., were pilots who had previously served at Naval Air Station Pensacola, Fla. Conrad, 24, the helicopter crew chief, is from Baton Rouge, La. (Post)

-- On a brighter note, the Army chief of staff announced the assignment of Brig. Gen. Timothy J. Daugherty, deputy chief of staff, G-3, U.S. Army Europe, Germany, to commanding general, U.S. Army Combat Readiness Center; and director of Army Safety, Fort Rucker, Ala.

Also announced was the assignment of Brig. Gen. David J. Francis, commanding general, U.S. Army Combat Readiness Center; and director of Army Safety, Fort Rucker, to director, Army Aviation, Office of the Deputy Chief of Staff, G-3/5/7, U.S. Army, Washington, D.C. (Post)

-- During the week, Sen. Bill Nelson, D-Fla., visited Tyndall Air Force Base, Fla., got a bird's-eye view of the Gulf Range Training Complex, a large range used by the military in the Gulf of Mexico.

Nelson said he has protected such training areas by opposing oil drilling too close to Florida’s shore. His flight was in a T-38 Talon jet piloted by 325th Fighter Wing Commander Col. Michael Hernandez. (Post)


Education
There is nothing more important for our future than the education of our youth.

Middle school, high school and college students near Eglin Air Force Base, Fla., Robins Air Force Base, Ga., and the United States Air Force Academy in Colorado, will get personalized, one-on-one training from leading professionals as Wright-Patterson Air Force Base’s Educational Outreach office expands its Leadership, Experience, Growing, Apprenticeships Committed to Youth program to those locations this summer.

The three locations began taking applications in January with coursework starting this summer. The four sites have a total of 631 student applications. Eglin, Robins and the Air Force Academy were chosen for their strong STEM programs already in place. (Post)

-- The city of Milton, Fla., is facing a bill to repair a U.S. Navy training plane that has been on static display outside Milton High School since 1976. Cleaning, painting, abating corrosion and doing other repairs will likely cost more than $25,000, said City Manager Brian Watkins.

The plane, which was loaned to the city by the National Naval Aviation Museum at Pensacola Naval Air Station, was flagged for repairs after an inspection by the Naval History and Heritage Command. (Post)


Economic development
The acquisition of GKN Aerospace in what the British media call “a hostile takeover” is not expected to affect the company’s new manufacturing facility at VentureCrossings in West Bay.

Becca Hardin, president of the Bay Economic Development Alliance, said the new plant is poised to start making parts this summer. She said she’s been in constant contact with GKN officials. Melrose Industries, a turnaround specialist, secured an $11 billion takeover of the British engineering firm and defense contractor.

Hardin said GKN's building near Northwest Florida Beaches International Airport is open now, with furniture being moved in and the 170 employees in the process of being hired. She said the undisclosed aviation products that will be manufactured here are part of a long-term federal government project. (Post)

-- The jet that Airbus and Bombardier plan to build in Mobile will bring coastal Alabama into a new front in the ongoing battle between Airbus and Boeing, the world’s two dominant jetliner builders.

Airbus and Boeing have been battling for years in the midsize single-aisle market. Mobile entered that fight when it began building A320 series jets. The new front is a fight over the single-aisle jets that seat from 100 to 150 passengers.

Now with Airbus lining up with Canada's Bombardier and Boeing considering a tie-in with Brazil’s Embraer, Mobile will be a big player in that fight as well. (Post)

-- W. Kevin Melton will be the new executive director of Chennault International Airport Authority, beginning in late April. He’s replacing Randy Robb, who steps down after 10 years at the helm.

Melton joins Chennault from American Airlines, where he was a project manager, facilitating and directing airport terminal and hangar construction projects for national and international sites. Melton retired from the U.S. Air Force as a colonel after 24 years of service.

Chennault International Airport is a major industrial airport in Lake Charles, La. The airport and its tenants employ some 1,500 persons and account for $300 million in annual economic impact. (Post)


Contracts
Lockheed Martin Aerospace Co., Fort Worth, Texas, was awarded a $211.3 million contract for Block 4.1 common capabilities pre-modernization efforts in support of the F-35 Lightning II preliminary design review in support of the Air Force and international partners. Work will be performed in Fort Worth, Texas, and is expected to be completed in July 2019. The Naval Air Systems Command, Patuxent River, Md., is the contracting activity. Eglin Air Force Base, Fla., is home of the F-35 integrated training center and reprogramming labs. … L3 Communications Vertex Aerospace LLC, Madison, Miss., and other companies in Illinois, Texas, Alabama, and Florida will share in a $25.5 billion hybrid contract for aircraft and support equipment maintenance, minor modification, and supply chain management primarily for performance outside the continental U.S. to support equipment and personnel in known theaters of operations. Work locations and funding will be determined with each order, with an estimated completion date of April 3, 2028. U.S. Army Contracting Command, Redstone Arsenal, Ala., is the contracting activity.

Saturday, March 31, 2018

Week in review (3/25 to 3/31)

The week was heavy with contract activity for the Gulf Coast aerospace region. But there were some non-contract news items as well.

Here's your week in review:


Bases
Devices that rely on Global Positioning System technology may be affected during upcoming military testing and evaluation in the Gulf of Mexico and Choctawhatchee Bay, according Eglin Air Force Base. There will also be an increase in aircraft noise during the testing beginning Sunday through Friday.

The work by Eglin’s 53rd Weapons Evaluation Group is scheduled from 8 a.m.- noon during each of the six days. During the testing period, fighter aircraft will release munitions about 20 nautical miles south of Destin over the Gulf.

During the testing, boats traveling in formation will move between the Mid-Bay Bridge and the Clyde B. Wells Bridge at U.S. Highway 331 between 1 and 5 p.m. The formation will be used as visual targets by military aircraft flying over the area. No weapons or ammunition will be involved, but some boats will have fake deck guns and rocket launcher tubes on board. The boats will also use marine flares as visual markers. (Post)


Airports
United Airlines has committed to offering service for several more years at Northwest Florida Beaches International Airport (ECP) near Panama City Beach, Fla. The Airport Authority board approved an airline-airport use and lease agreement with United Airlines.

A representative of United Airlines, which has served the airport since March 2015, has advised airport officials the company intends to sign the agreement in the next 45 days, airport officials said. The agreement expires Sept. 30, 2020, but United already is discussing a new agreement once that time comes, airport Executive Director Parker McClellan told the board. There are four major carriers at the airport: American, Delta, Southwest and United. (Post)


Contracts
B3 Enterprises LLC, Woodbridge, Va., was awarded a $9.9 million contract for refuel and defuel support services for the U.S. Army Aviation Center of Excellence, Fort Rucker, Ala. Work will be performed in Fort Rucker, with an estimated completion date of March 30, 2025. U.S. Army Mission and Installation Contracting Command, Fort Eustis, Va. is the contracting activity. … Reliance Test & Technology, Crestview, Fla., was awarded a $227.4 million modification to a previously awarded contract for Eglin Operation and Maintenance Support Service. Work will be performed at Eglin Air Force Base, Fla., and is expected to be complete by March 31, 2020. Air Force Test Center, Eglin Air Force Base, is the contracting activity. … Lockheed Martin Corp., Rotary and Mission Systems, King of Prussia, Pa., was awarded a $10.9 million contract for Joint Air-to-Air Surface Standoff Missile Enterprise Management System 7.0. This contract provides for enhancements to the software package known as the JASSM Enterprise Management System. Work will be performed in King of Prussia and is expected to be complete by March 29, 2019. Air Force Life Cycle Management Center, Eglin Air Force Base, Fla., is the contracting activity. … Eaton Aerospace LLC, Jackson, Miss., was awarded a maximum $37.9 million contract for axial piston pumps. This is a five-year contract with no option periods. Location of performance is Mississippi, with a Sept. 30, 2024, performance completion date. The contracting activity is the Defense Logistics Agency Land and Maritime, Warren, Mich. … Electronic Metrology Laboratory LLC, Franklin, Tenn., was awarded a $10.6 million modification under a previously awarded contract to exercise Option Four for base operations support services at Naval Air Station Whiting Field and outlying fields. Work will be performed in Milton, Fla. (80 percent); and outlying fields (20 percent). Work is expected to be completed in March 2019. The Naval Facilities Engineering Command, Southeast, Jacksonville, Fla., is the contracting activity.

Sunday, March 25, 2018

Week in review (3/18 to 3/25)

A decision by Boeing not to appeal an ITC ruling, a new agreement between Stennis Space Center and Relativity Space, and another milestone for the F-35 were among the news items this week of interest to the Gulf Coast region.

Here's your week in review:


Space
Stennis Space Center, Miss., and Los Angeles-based Relativity Space, a startup developing small launch vehicles using additive manufacturing technologies, have entered an agreement that authorizes the startup to have exclusive use of the E-4 Test Complex for 20 years.

The complex features four cells for engine tests and 15,000 square feet of office space, with the option to expand the use of the facility from about 25 acres to 250 acres. The new agreement will help Relativity expand its test efforts, which include the qualification and acceptance tests of up to 36 of the company's Terran small launch vehicles.

Relativity is under a separate Space Act agreement with Stennis for the use of the center’s E-3 test stand, which has supported 85 tests of the firm's Aeon 1 engine to date. Tim Ellis, CEO and co-founder of Relativity, said the startup will continue using E-3 while it builds up E-4, then use both facilities in parallel in the future.

Relativity's Terran rocket will work to carry up to 2,755 pounds of payload at $10 million per launch. Ellis said the company will develop a single manufacturing facility that would allow it to produce the Terran rocket, but the company hasn't decided where that facility will be located. (Post)

The decision to use the E-4 test stand is a major deal for SSC. Back in 2011 SSC started looking for industries that might be interested in using the under-utilized test stand, saying it was a "great opportunity."

The stand, in addition to the work area and offices, has a barge canal access. Projects conducted at the E-4 Test Facility also have the ability to access Stennis onsite amenities and support capabilities, including cafeteria, medical clinic, laboratory, component, information technology, institutional and other services.


Bombardier
Boeing won't appeal the U.S. trade commission ruling that allows Canada's Bombardier to sell its newest jets to U.S. airlines without heavy duties, according to a company spokesman. The decision puts the trade challenge to rest.

The U.S. International Trade Commission voted in January to reject Boeing's complaint and discarded a Commerce Department recommendation to slap a near 300 percent duty on sales of the 110- to 130-seat Bombardier CSeries jets for five years. The ITC felt the sale to Delta Air Lines had no impact on Boeing’s revenue since it doesn’t have a jet that competes with the CSeries.

The smaller end of the jet market is an increasing focus for the major manufacturers. Airbus has agreed to take a majority stake in the CSeries in a deal expected to close later this year where CSeries jets will also be assembled in Mobile, Ala. Boeing is in tie-up talks with Brazilian jet maker Embraer. (Post)


F-35
The Nimitz-class aircraft carrier USS Abraham Lincoln (CVN 72) completed fleet carrier qualifications (CQ) for the F-35C Joint Strike Fighter program while underway March 17-21 in the Atlantic Ocean.

Pilots of the "Rough Raiders" of Strike Fighter Squadron (VFA) 125 at Lemoore, Calif., and the "Grim Reapers" of VFA 101 at Eglin Air Force Base, Fla., performed day and night CQs with 140 traps in anticipation of F-35C’s operational testing later in 2018.

By 2025, the Navy's aircraft carrier air wings are scheduled to consist of F-35Cs, F/A-18E/F Super Hornets, EA-18G Growlers electronic attack aircraft, E-2D Hawkeye battle management and control aircraft, MH-60R/S helicopters and carrier on board delivery logistics aircraft. (Post)

In addition, there were two contracts related to the F-35.

In one, United Technologies Corp., Pratt & Whitney Military Engines, East Hartford, Conn., was awarded a $239.7 million advanced acquisition contract for long-lead materials, parts, and components for 137 low rate initial Production Lot 12 F135 propulsion systems for the Air Force, Navy, Marine Corps, non-U.S. Department of Defense (DoD) participants, and foreign military sales (FMS) customers. This includes 46 F135-PW-100 propulsion systems for the Air Force; 20 F135-PW-600 propulsion systems for the Marine Corps; four F135-PW-100 propulsion systems for the Navy; 63 F135-PW-100 and four F135-PW-600 propulsion systems for non-U.S. DoD participants and FMS customers.

In the other, Lockheed Martin Aeronautics Co., Fort Worth, Texas, was awarded and $8.5 million modification to a previously issued order against a basic ordering agreement. This order authorizes award of additional unique F-35 Joint Strike Fighter distributed mission training capability efforts for the Navy, Marine Corps, and the government of the United Kingdom.

The Naval Air Systems Command, Patuxent River, Md., is the contracting activity for both contracts.


Other contracts
Raytheon Missile Co.
, Tucson, Ariz., was awarded a $523.1 million modification to a previously awarded contract for Advanced Medium Range Air to Air Missile Production Lot 31. This contract involves foreign military sales to Japan, Kuwait, Poland, Indonesia, Qatar, Germany, Australia, and the United Kingdom. Air Force Life Cycle Management Center, Air Dominance Contracting Office, Eglin Air Force Base, Fla., is the contracting activity. … Airbus Helicopters Inc., Grand Prairie, Texas, was awarded a $116.9 million contract modification for the procurement of 16 UH-72A aircraft. Work will be performed in Columbus, Miss., with an estimated completion date of Sept. 20, 2023. U.S. Army Contracting Command, Redstone Arsenal, Ala., is the contracting activity. … Atmospheric Science Technology LLC, Norman, Okla., was awarded a $7 million contract that will provide weather observing and forecasting services as required by the Naval Meteorology and Oceanography Command at Stennis Space Center, Miss. Work will be performed at a variety of sites, including New Orleans, La. (4.30 percent); Pensacola, Fla. (4.24 percent); North Whiting Field, Fla. (3.62 percent); and South Whiting Field, Fla. (3.06 percent). Other sites are in Washington, Virginia, Cuba, other locations in Florida, California, Texas, Maryland, Nevada and Mississippi. Naval Supply Systems Command Fleet Logistics Center Norfolk Contracting Department, Norfolk, Va., is the contracting activity. … Sierra Nevada Corp., Sparks, Nev., was awarded a $20 million modification to a previously awarded contract for AC-130J and AC-130W contractor logistics support for the Precision Strike package. Work will be performed at Canon Air Force Base, N.M.; and Hurlburt Air Force Base, Fla. Air Force Life Cycle Management Center, Robins Air Force Base, Ga., is the contracting activity.

Saturday, March 17, 2018

Week in review (3/11 to 3/17)

Florida Gov. Rick Scott approved $3 million in the state's FY19 budget for improvements at Pensacola International Airport. The announcement comes on the heels of an announcement last week of the award of a $4 million Florida Job Growth Infrastructure grant from the Department of Economic Opportunity (DEO).

The money from this appropriation will be used together with the money from the DEO grant to fund the development of infrastructure that will support the expansion of aviation maintenance, repair and overhaul capabilities at the airport. (Post)

Pensacola Mayor Ashton Hayward pointed out that three year ago he announced the agreement with VT MAE to set up a maintenance, repair and overhaul facility at the airport. "Next month that facility will be operational, and the dream of hundreds of new, sustainable, well-paid jobs in a new industry will become a reality."

VT MAE’s primary MRO facility is at the Mobile Aeroplex in Alabama.


Airbus
Speaking of Mobile, Airbus earlier this week said the new aviation experience center to be built near where Airbus assembles A320 series jetliners will be named Flight Works Alabama. The name represents a number of different aspects of the center’s mission, said Airbus Americas Chairman and CEO Jeff Knittel.

"We are convinced visitors to Flight Works Alabama will walk away with greater knowledge and appreciation of how aviation enriches everyone’s lives," he said.

In May 2017, Alabama Gov. Kay Ivey announced the intent to build the hands-on instructional facility, with the goal to bolster Alabama's workforce development efforts and inspire young people to pursue careers in aerospace.

Flight Works Alabama will be a 19,000 square foot center housing a large interactive exhibition area, classrooms, a collaboration room, a workshop, a restaurant and a gift shop. It will serve as a gateway for public tours of Airbus’ A320 family assembly line.

Groundbreaking is expected in the summer with the grand opening in 2019. (Post)


F-35 contracts
Three contracts were awarded during the week for the F-35 project, which is important to this region since Eglin Air Force Base, Fla., is home of the F-35 integrated training center. Two of the contracts were for Lockheed Martin, one for United Technologies.

Lockheed Martin Aeronautics Co., Fort Worth, Texas, was awarded two. One was a $1.5 billion modification to a previously awarded advance acquisition contract for long lead material and parts for low rate initial production (LRIP) of F-35 Lightning II air systems in support of the Air Force, Marine Corps, Navy, non-U.S. Department of Defense (DoD) participants; and foreign military sales (FMS) customers. This modification provides for 145 Lot 13 aircraft for the services, non-U.S. DoD participants and FMS customers; and 69 Lot 14 aircraft for the non-U.S. DoD participants and FMS customers. It combines purchase for the Air Force (24 percent); the Marine Corps (11 percent); the Navy (3 percent); and the non-U.S. DoD participants (44 percent); and FMS customers (18 percent).

Lockheed Martin also was awarded a $482 million delivery order against a previously issued basic ordering agreement. This order provides for the procurement of initial air vehicle spares in support of the F-35 Lightning II for the Air Force, Marine Corps, Navy; non-U.S. Department of Defense (DoD) participants, and foreign military sales (FMS) customers. This order combines purchases for the Air Force (33.92 percent); Marine Corps (13.43 percent); Navy (9.45 percent); non-U.S. DoD participants (29.58 percent); and FMS customers (13.62 percent).

A third contract was awarded to United Technologies Corp., Pratt & Whitney Military Engines, East Hartford, Conn., this one a $21.6 million task order against a previously issued basic ordering agreement. This task order provides for non-recurring engineering for early identification, development, and qualification of corrections to potential and actual operational issues, including safety and reliability and maintainability problems identified through fleet usage, Accelerated Mission Testing, and Lead-the-Fleet programs. This order combines purchases for the Navy (45.6 percent); Air Force (13.9 percent); non-U.S. DoD participants (22.8 percent); and FMS (17.7 percent), under the Foreign Military Sales program.

The Naval Air Systems Command, Patuxent River, Md., is the contracting activity for all three contracts.


Other contract
Alion Science and Technology Corp., McLean, Va., was awarded a $13.5 million contract for development, integration, testing and evaluation of prototype systems for existing or emerging unmanned vehicles, unmanned weapons and unmanned weapons control systems related to mine warfare, amphibious warfare, surface warfare, diving and life support, coastal and underwater intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance, and other missions in the littoral and riverine environments. The Naval Surface Warfare Center Panama City Division, Panama City, Fla., is the contracting activity. … Med-Eng LLC, Ogdensburg, N.Y., was awarded a $15 million contract for explosive ordnance disposal bomb suits. This contract provides for the delivery of a full bomb suit ensemble and associated accessories. The 772nd Enterprise Sourcing Squadron, Tyndall Air Force Base, Fla., is the contracting activity.

Saturday, March 10, 2018

Week in review (3/4 to 3/10)

The Navy plans to replace the TH-57 training helicopter with a commercially available helicopter, according to Seapower magazine. Rear Adm. Scott D. Conn, the Navy's director of air warfare, told the Senate Armed Services seapower subcommittee that it's a new approach to replace the 115 training helicopters.

A competition will be held then a winner chosen. The TH-57 Sea Ranger, derived from the Bell 206, has trained rotary-wing pilots for the Navy, Marine Corps and Coast Guard since 1968. It's flown by three helicopter training squadrons at Naval Air Station Whiting Field, Milton, Fla. (Post)

-- A test was conducted recently at Eglin Air Force Base, Fla., to validate the sympathetic reaction of a new safety-oriented explosive. It was co-developed by the Air Force Research Lab and Aerojet Rocketdyne.

The MNX-770 Mod 1 explosive is being developed for use in 500-pound BLU-111 (Mk-82) and 1000-pound BLU-110 (Mk-83) general purpose bombs. The explosive employs characteristics that make it less prone to unintended detonation than the currently-employed PBXN-109, while retaining the same lethality. (Post)

-- The Blue Angels’ 2018 air show season begins today at El Centro Naval Air Facility, Calif., and concludes Nov. 2-3 with the Homecoming show at Naval Air Station Pensacola. The Pensacola Beach air show is July 14. There's another air show on the Gulf Coast July 21-22 in Biloxi, Miss. (Post)

-- Brig. Gen. Sean M. Farrell, director, strategic plans, programs and requirements, Headquarters Air Force Special Operations Command, Hurlburt Field, Fla., has been assigned as director, Air Force Security Assistance and Cooperation Directorate, Air Force Life Cycle Management Center, Air Force Materiel Command, Wright-Patterson Air Force Base, Ohio. (Post)

-- The 43rd Fighter Squadron graduated 13 F-22 Raptor Basic Course students during a March 2 ceremony. The students completed a course of instruction that included academics, examinations, sorties and simulator missions. With completion of the course the new F-22 pilots are now prepared to begin mission qualification training in their combat unit. (Post)


Airports
Nearly $23 million in awards for eleven Florida Job Growth Grant Fund projects across the state were announced during the week by Gov. Rick Scott. Among the awards are aerospace-related projects for Pensacola and Marianna in Northwest Florida.

Pensacola will get $4 million to develop additional taxiways, ramp construction and expansion for future development at Pensacola International Airport. Marianna will get nearly $2 million to extend the runway at Marianna Airport Commerce Park to 6,000 feet, which will allow the airport to accommodate larger business jets. (Post)

-- Okaloosa County's lease of 130 acres of Eglin Air Force Base land that contains the Destin-Fort Walton Beach Airport will be extended by 25 years and expire on July 30, 2063. The extension was part of a lease amendment the County Commission unanimously approved earlier in the week. (Post)


F-35 contracts
Lockheed Martin Aeronautics Co., Fort Worth, Texas, was awarded two contracts for the F-35 program. In one, the company was awarded a $24.9 million modification to a previously awarded contract to update and revise F-35A integration requirements in accordance with the letter of offer and acceptance in support of the government of Japan. Work will be performed in Japan, Texas and Florida, and is expected to be completed in March 2021. The Naval Air Systems Command, Patuxent River, Md., is the contracting activity.

In the other, the company was awarded $24 million for a modification to a previously issued delivery order placed against basic ordering agreement. This modification provides for the procurement of Integrated Core Processor prototypes to support laboratory system integration for all Joint Strike Fighter aircraft variants. Work will be performed in Fort Worth, Texas, and is expected to be completed in April 2019. The Naval Air Systems Command, Patuxent River, Md., is the contracting activity. Eglin Air Force Base, Fla., is home of the F-35 integrated training center.


Other contracts
Airbus Helicopters Inc., Grand Prairie, Texas, was awarded a $273.3 million contract for procurement of 35 UH-72A aircraft. Work will be performed in Columbus, Miss., with an estimated completion date of March 8, 2021. U.S. Army Contracting Command , Redstone Arsenal, Ala., is the contracting activity.

Saturday, March 3, 2018

Week in review (2/25 to 3/3)

There were two announcements during the week related to growth of the aerospace region. Mobile, Ala.-based AeroStar announced plans to more than double its facility and the number of employees over the next several years at the Mobile Aeroplex. The company has maxed out its 6,000-square-foot facility.

It will add another 16,875-square-foot building next to the existing one. AeroStar performs hydraulic, pneumatic and electro-mechanical commercial aircraft maintenance on all Airbus, Boeing and Bombardier aircraft.

The company has 22 employees and will add 28 new positions. The $2 million investment includes land, construction costs, machinery and equipment. Work is set to begin in March with a completion date anticipated before year-end 2018. (Post)

-- The addition of American Airlines service at Northwest Florida Beaches International Airport in West Bay, northwest of Panama City, Fla., combined with increasing flights on other airlines, has resulted in crowded gate and office space.

"We are reaching the constraints of the terminal," Airport Executive Director Parker McClellan said after an airport authority board meeting. "I'm working with our staff and a consultant for future development (of the terminal)," McClellan said. (Post)


Military
The Hurricane Hunters of the 53rd Weather Reconnaissance Squadron performed weather reconnaissance of atmospheric rivers. It was done in partnership with the Scripps Institution of Oceanography at the University of California, San Diego and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. Atmospheric rivers carry water vapor in streams through the sky. The squadron has flown six missions totaling 92 hours, launching WC-130J Super Hercules aircraft from Hawaii and California for four of the missions. (Post)


Space
The giant aircraft being developed by Stratolaunch as part of an air-launch system is one step closer to its first flight after a new series of taxi tests. The company that it performed a series of medium-speed taxi tests of its aircraft Feb. 24 and 25 at the Mojave Air and Space Port in California.

Funded by billionaire Paul Allen, Stratolaunch's giant plane – the largest by wingspan – was initially designed to carry modified versions of rockets from other companies. But now it’s considering developing its own launch system. The company has hired propulsion engineers and has a Space Act Agreement with NASA's Stennis Space Center, Miss., to use a test stand there for testing its propulsion system. (Post)


F-35 contracts
Lockheed Martin Aeronautics Co., of Fort Worth, Texas, was awarded three contracts related the F-35. In one, the company was awarded a $158.3 million delivery order against a previously issued basic ordering agreement related to the F-35. It also was awarded $148.7 million for a modification to a previously awarded contract to provided additional recurring logistics services for delivered F-35 aircraft for the Air Force, Marine Corps, Navy, non-Department of Defense, and foreign military sales customers. The company also was awarded $7.4 million contract modification to provide funding for sustainment services in support of the F-35 aircraft at Marine Corps Air Station Iwakuni, Japan, and Naval Air Station Lemoore, Calif. Eglin Air Force Base, Fla., is home of the F-35 integrated training center.


Other contracts
Pride Industries, Roseville, Calif., was awarded an $8.4 million contract modification for base operations. Work will be performed in Fort Rucker, Ala., with an estimated completion date of Aug. 31, 2018. U.S. Army Mission and Installation Contracting Command, Fort Rucker, is the contracting activity. … Druck LLC, Billerica, Mass., was awarded a $19 million contract for the procurement of about 819 engineering change kits to upgrade air data test sets in support of a range of aircraft. Work will be performed at the Naval Air Station Joint Reserve Base, New Orleans, La., and Leicestershire, United Kingdom, and is expected to be completed February 2023. … Raytheon Missile Systems, Tucson, Ariz., was awarded a $77.4 million contract to exercise an option to a previously awarded contract for Small Diameter Bomb (SBD) II. Work will be performed in Tucson and is expected to be complete by July 31, 2020. Air Force Life Cycle Management Center, Eglin Air Force Base, Fla., is the contracting activity. … Alpha-Omega Change Engineering Inc., Williamsburg, Va., was awarded an $8.5 million modification to a previously awarded contract for F-15E, F-16 and F-22A aircrew training and courseware development. Tyndall Air Force Base, Fla., is one of the locations where work will be performed

Saturday, February 24, 2018

Week in review (2/18 to 2/24)


Passenger area of CSeries.
GCAC photo


Airbus and Bombardier early in the week invited the media to take a look at a CSeries jetliner like the ones that are likely to be built at the Mobile Aeroplex under an agreement between the two plane makers.

The transaction, where Airbus gets a stake in the Bombardier CSeries jetliners, is not yet finalized, but is expected by the second half of this year. So what will all this mean for Mobile? As was reported back in November, the Bombardier investment will be close to $300 million and will create 400 to 500 jobs.

But at the event itself officials said the number of jobs at the Aeroplex will increase to as many as 600. That’s because there’s a good chance Airbus will hike its A320 series jetliner output to six a month from the current four.

The CSeries would be built in a separate hangar to the north and parallel to the hangar where Airbus is building A320 series jetliners. The plans is to eventually build four CSeries jetliners per month on the separate final assembly line.

Like the Airbus operation, major sections will be shipped to Mobile from other locations. The engines are built by Pratt & Whitney, and the podding work may be done at the UTC facility across the bay in Foley, where all the A320 podding work is done.

While a lot of details are still being worked out, Bombardier will use the Airbus delivery center, which will be expanded to accommodate the additional deliveries.

The twin-engine, single-aisle CSeries passenger jet is smaller than the A320. It has three seats on one side of the aisle and two on the other. (Post)

Building the CSeries in Mobile as well as Quebec will allow Bombardier to meet demand, and will mean jobs for years to come. There will be a demand for 6,000 of the CSeries jetliners over the next 20 years, according to Alain Bellemare, president and CEO of Bombardier, who was in Mobile for the event. He also pointed out that more than 50 percent of the plane's content is U.S.-produced.

Officials also said they expect more suppliers might now commit to setting up an operation in Mobile or the surrounding region with the arrival of Bombardier.

Meanwhile, over at Stennis Space Center, Miss., later in the week, Aerojet Rocketdyne and NASA powered up the RS-25 main engine for the agency's Space Launch System (SLS) to its highest thrust levels yet. It was a 260-second test on the A-1 Test Stand. The RS-25 engine throttled up to 113 percent of its original design thrust level.

The first four flights of SLS will use engines that max out at 109 percent of rated thrust. The engines operated at 104.5 percent rated thrust when they helped power the Space Shuttle into space. New RS-25 engines will baseline their thrust at 111 percent.

The latest RS-25 hot fire test also was the fourth involving an additively manufactured Pogo Accumulator Assembly, the largest 3-D printed RS-25 component tested to date. Newly manufactured RS-25 engines, to be used starting with the fifth SLS mission, will incorporate the additively manufactured Pogo Accumulator Assembly and other 3-D printed parts currently in development.

There are 16 flight engines that will power the first four SLS flights in inventory at Aerojet Rocketdyne's Stennis facility. (Post)

Saturday, February 17, 2018

Week in review (2/11 to 2/17)

I had the chance early this week to go to Stennis Space Center, Miss., to participate in a briefing and tour for social media and traditional media folks. I’m actually both, as those of us from the traditional media tend to be today.

I've been to Stennis Space Center (SSC) many times in the past, including visiting the towering stands where rocket engines are tested. But you always see something new, and besides, it's a great refresher for a space buff. I wrote about the test stands in the just-released Gulf Coast Reporters League Aerospace Newsletter. It's on pages 7 and 8.

But the daily post I wrote after the visit was an update on the plans to create a "near-site" research and technology park at SSC. I asked about it during a question-and-answer session with Randy Galloway, deputy director of the NASA rocket engine test facility.

He recapped for everyone else just what I was talking about when I asked about the interest in Enterprise Park. He pointed out that in December NASA opened a search for a non-federal partner to lead in development of the 1,100-acre technology corridor in the first phase of a multi-phase project.

Galloway said it was discussed with interested parties during a Feb. 7 Industry Day event. He said there was a "good bit of interest" in the proposed project in the northwest corner of the "fee area," the name for the area at SSC with all the buildings and test stands. He said at least 16 entities and 58 individuals expressed interest. The park would be allied to the mission at SSC, whether it's the mission of NASA or any of the other more than 40 tenants.

Enterprise Park would be for companies that want to work with NASA or other SSC tenants but who don't want to go through the security measures required to enter SSC, and by the same token don't want to be six or seven miles away. The 1,100 acres, identified as the most development-ready, is on the northern edge of the 13,800-acre secured area and would include property both inside and outside the security perimeter.

It was an important enough development that the deputy director of the Mississippi Development Authority attended the Industry Day to learn more. Galloway said some very good companies have expressed interest. The park would be leased to the developer, who would provide all the financing.

So why is this important? Galloway told me later that the obvious answer is economic development, benefiting not only Mississippi but the entire region.

"There are a lot of new companies involved in space," he pointed out about the tremendous growth of commercial space activities. At SSC, which has a huge 125,000-acre buffer zone around the fee area, they can make a lot of noise and not bother anybody. As somebody who once lived in Huntsville, I asked if he sees any parallels between Enterprise Park and Cummings Research Park in Huntsville, the nation’s second largest.

"I would hope that in 10 years we see just a fraction of what Cummings Research Park is today," he said, pointing out that Huntsville is a much bigger entity with a much larger budget authority, including the Army Materiel Command, the primary provider of materiel to the Army. Its mission includes research and development of weapons systems as well as maintenance and parts distribution. "When you have that much budget authority, you get a lot of interest. I don’t know that we'll ever be to that point, but I believe we can have something that's dynamic and appealing and a good source of long-term jobs for this community.”

I couldn't agree more. This is significant for our region.


Bombardier
Atlanta-based Delta Air Lines said during the week that it will proceed with plans to buy some Canadian-made CSeries jets from Bombardier this year after a U.S. trade ruling stopped the United States from imposing steep duties on the aircraft. It will take delivers this year of some of the 75 CSeries jets it ordered in 2016.

Those first jetliners will be made in Quebec. But not all of them will be produced in Canada. Production is set to begin for U.S. customers at an Airbus plant in Mobile, Ala., after the Airbus closes a deal this year to acquire a majority stake in the CSeries program.

"Delta still intends to take as many deliveries as possible from the new Airbus/Bombardier facility in Mobile, Ala., as soon as that facility is up and running," the carrier said.

During the week the International Trade Commission said it rejected the hefty U.S. duties on the CSeries jets earlier this month in part because Boeing had lost no sales or revenue during the Delta deal. (Post)


Newsletter
The February issue of the Gulf Coast Reporters League/Gulf Coast Aerospace Corridor Newsletter is now available. The four-page cover story is about Alabama's considerable aerospace footprint, from Huntsville to Mobile and places in between.

Inside there's a story about a lecture in Pensacola, Fla., that focused on concerns that intelligent systems may one day be a threat to humanity. And as I mentioned earlier in this column, there's also an article about an historic test stand at SSC that next year will test the core stage of NASA's Space Launch System, which will eventually return astronauts to deep space. (Post)


Contracts
Micro Systems Inc., Fort Walton Beach, Fla., was awarded an $81 million contract to acquire and/or repair essential part-numbered components to support the operation and maintenance of all versions of the Army Ground Aerial Target Control System, target interface control units, and associated ancillary equipment. U.S. Army Contracting Command, Redstone Arsenal, Ala., is the contracting activity. … Lockheed Martin Aeronautics Co., Fort Worth, Texas, was awarded $14 million modification to a previously issued delivery order placed against a basic ordering agreement. This modification provides for the procurement of initial air vehicle spares to include endurance spares packages to coincide with F-35 air vehicle deliveries in support of the government of Israel. The Naval Air Systems Command, Patuxent River, Md., is the contracting activity. Eglin Air Force Base, Fla., is home of the F-35 integrated training center. … ASES LLC, doing business as Field Aerospace, Oklahoma City, Okla., was awarded an $18.5 million contract for the T-1A Avionics Modification program. This contract provides for the replacement of the avionics suite in the T-1A fleet of 178 aircraft, 16 operational flight trainers, and 14 part task trainers. Work will be performed in Oklahoma City; Randolph Air Force Base, Texas; Columbus Air Force Base, Miss.; Vance Air Force Base, Okla.; Laughlin Air Force Base, Texas; and Naval Air Station Pensacola, Fla.. Work is expected to be complete by Aug. 14, 2025. Air Force Life Cycle Management Center, Tinker Air Force Base, Okla., is the contracting activity.

Saturday, February 10, 2018

Week in review (2/4 to 2/10)

The February issue of the bimonthly Gulf Coast Aerospace Corridor Newsletter will be published Wednesday. The cover story is the third installment of the series about the aerospace activities of the four states that are members of the Aerospace Alliance.

The upcoming issue puts a spotlight on Alabama, which has a large, diverse and growing aerospace sector. In fact, aerospace is the second fastest-growing sector in the state in terms of project activity. As you would expect, we'll tell you about Huntsville-Decatur, long a powerhouse in space, and Mobile, which seems destined to grow its aircraft manufacturing operations.

But you'll also learn more about the places in between, from Fort Rucker’s Army aviation center in Southeast Alabama to Tuskegee, where they'll build T-100 jet trainers if the Air Force picks Leonardo for the contract.

There's also an article about artificial intelligence and the fear that intelligent robots might be our greatest danger. That was the subject of a lecture in Pensacola at the Florida Institute for Human and Machine Cognition, which pointed out the parallels between the current fear over AI and past concerns about humans flying.

We'll also tell you about a second lecture a little more than a week later at IHMC about future technology and some of the products that we can expect – the prototypes already exist. I particularly liked the windows that double as lights, and bendable computing devices.

We also have a rundown of some of the key aviation events that occurred in the Gulf Coast region since the last newsletter in December. If you're a subscriber, the eight-page PDF will be delivered to your inbox. Not a subscriber? You will be able to grab the PDF at our website.

Now for your week in review:


Space
OK, even if you're not a space buff, you have to admit that the launch of the SpaceX Falcon Heavy from Cape Canaveral, Fla., was pretty awesome. And the images that were beamed back showing a Tesla Roadster in space – with Earth in the background and a dummy in the driver's seat – was like nothing you've ever seen before – at least not something that was real.

I'll admit, I was skeptical when the Obama administration started shifting money to commercial companies so they could handle routine flights to the International Space Station while NASA focused on extending our reach to deep space. But I've slowly but surely become a believer. The vision has gone well beyond routine as private companies push into space tourism and establishing colonies on distant planets.

SpaceX's Falcon Heavy is the most powerful commercial rocket in the world. What is truly remarkable is that once again, SpaceX got its boosters back. Two of the three boosters made vertical landings back at Kennedy Space Center, while the third one scheduled to land on a drone ship off the coast of Florida hit the ocean about 100 yards from the ship. While the Tesla was visually stunning, it's the return of the boosters that's the real achievement here. SpaceX has done it in the past, but this time two of them came down nearly simultaneously. That capability promises to make space travel quite a bit less expensive.

The 23-story rocket was built with three of the company's Falcon 9 rockets, a total of 27 Merlin engines, created a combined 5 million pounds of thrust. Falcon Heavy is more powerful and can lift more weight than the biggest rockets offered by either United Launch Alliance or Arianespace.

A recent report by Bank of America Merrill Lynch forecast the size of the space industry over the next three decades will reach at least $2.7 trillion. All of this is good for our region. SpaceX is using Stennis Space Center, Miss., to develop its next generation Raptor engines, and other companies are also testing their rocket engines at SSC. (Post)


Airbus
Airbus and its suppliers continue to grab our attention.

UTC Aerospace Systems recently delivered the first of two fully integrated propulsion systems for the Airbus 320neo to the Airbus final assembly line in Mobile, Ala. The newly expanded UTC facility in Foley, Ala., integrated the full nacelle system, designed and built by UTC Aerospace Systems, with the Pratt & Whitney PW1100G-JM Geared Turbofan engine (GTF).

In 2011, Airbus selected UTC Aerospace Systems to design, manufacture and support the full nacelle system for the A320neo GTF engines for the life of the program. In support of the Airbus A320neo program, UTC Aerospace System elected to expand the Foley campus to meet customer demand. The 80,000 square foot expansion began operations in late 2017. (Post)

In another Airbus-related story, officials from Dublin-based MAAS Aviation and the Atlanta-based consul general of Ireland were in Mobile late in the week. As you know, MAAS Aviation in Mobile paints all the jetliners produced by Airbus.

The consul, Shane Stephens, was with a delegation of European representatives to visit the Gulf Coast to celebrate European investments in this part of the world. MAAS, in addition to the shop that paints the Airbus planes, later built another paint facility for after-market customers. Just a year after breaking ground, it’s repainted some 40 planes. MAAS officials say they’re excited about the growth potential of the Mobile area. (Post)


Bases
The Air Force has grounded some training flights at Naval Air Station Pensacola, Fla., because of hypoxia-related issues experienced by pilots at other bases flying T-6 Texan II A aircraft.

The Pensacola News Journal reports that Randy Martin, a spokesman for the San Antonio-based 12th Flying Squadron, said the Air Force has 22 of the planes at NAS Pensacola. The planes are used to train combat systems officers as part of its 479th Fighter Group at the Navy base.

Earlier this month the Air Force grounded its entire fleet of T-6 Texan II A planes after pilots experienced hypoxia due to lack of oxygen in flight. Naval Air Station Whiting Field, Fla., flies a different version of the T-6 Texan II. (Post)

-- The Florida Department if Environmental Protection announced Friday that 2,607 gallons of Jet-A fuel spilled at Eglin Air Force Base, Fla. The spill occurred in Building 92 on Jan. 5 after a switch box froze, activating fuel pumps and overfilling an underground storage tank. Absorbents were put in place to soak up the fuel and the Emergency Response Contractor cleaned the area. (Post)

-- Speaking of the environment, Naval Air Station Whiting Field, Fla., was the winner in the medium-sized shore command category of the 2017 Navy Community Service Environmental Stewardship Flagship awards.

The awards program highlights commands and ships that exhibit strong commitment to environmental stewardship via volunteer service projects. Naval Air Technical Training Center Pensacola, Fla., was an honorable mention in the large shore command category. (Post)


Personnel
The Air Force Nuclear Weapons Center at Kirkland Air Force Base, N.M., announced its annual award winners Jan. 25. Winners will compete at the next level for Air Force Materiel Command’s annual awards.

AFNWC 2017 annual award winners included Field Grade Officer of the Year, Maj. Kenton Feldman and Category IV Civilian of the Year, Wesley Treadway, both of the Air Delivered Capabilities Directorate at Eglin Air Force Base, Fla.

The center is responsible for synchronizing all aspects of nuclear materiel management on behalf of the AF’s materiel command in direct support of the AF Global Strike Command. Headquartered at Kirtland, the center has some 1,100 personnel assigned to 17 locations worldwide, including Eglin. (Post)

-- Col. Michael E. Martin of the 24th Special Operations Wing, Air Force Special Operations Command, Hurlburt Field, Fla., who was selected earlier this week for the grade of brigadier general, is being assigned as director, Integrated Resilience Office, Deputy Chief of Staff for Manpower, Personnel and Services, Headquarters U.S. Air Force, Pentagon, Washington, D.C. The announcement was made by the office of the Air Force chief of staff. (Post)

-- Air Force Brig. Gen. Vincent K. Becklund has been nominated for appointment to the rank of major general. Becklund is currently serving as the special assistant to the commander, Air Force Special Operations Command, Hurlburt Field, Fla. (Post)


Contracts
Lockheed Martin Aeronautics Co., Fort Worth, Texas, was awarded a $119.7 million modification to a previously issued delivery order placed against a basic ordering agreement. This modification provides for the procurement of initial air vehicle deployment spares packages in support of Air Force F-35 air vehicle delivery schedules. work is expected to be completed in July 2022. The Naval Air Systems Command, Patuxent River, Md., is the contracting activity. Eglin Air Force Base, Fla., is home of the F-35 integrated training center. … The Boeing Co., St. Louis, Mo., was awarded a $21 million contract for the procurement of GBU-57 massive ordnance penetrators. Air Force Life Cycle Management Center, Eglin Air Force Base, Fla., is the contracting activity.

Saturday, February 3, 2018

Week in review (1/28 to 2/3)

Leave it to folks who don't live in this region to think they know what's best for us. I'm talking about the legislation to move Northwest Florida into the Eastern Time Zone, and shift us to permanent Daylight Saving Time.

The people who are backing this apparently don't fully understand the impact. Under the "Sunshine Protection Act," Pensacola will be an hour ahead of nearby Mobile during Daylight Savings Time, and two hours ahead during Daylight Standard Time.

The region covered by the Gulf Coast Aerospace Corridor is all on Central Time. When it's 11 a.m. in Panama City, Fla., it's the same time in New Orleans. When I cross the Alabama-Florida state line heading west on work-related travel, I'm always in the same time zone. If I head east along Interstate 10, I don't change time zones until crossing the Apalachicola River, and that's outside the aerospace corridor area of interest.

All of us who live here are quite familiar with being in a different time zone than Tallahassee, Jacksonville, Orlando and Miami. And there's a lot of logic in keeping all the northern Gulf Coast in the same time zone. Fortunately, Northwest Florida senators opposed the plan. Like so many other ideas to make things "better," this needs to be beaten down.

Now here's your week in review:


Space
OK, space buffs, here are a couple of items you’ll like.

Construction has officially begun on the spaceship that will achieve America's goal of returning astronauts to the Moon and beyond. Lockheed Martin technicians and engineers at the NASA Michoud Assembly Facility in East New Orleans have welded together the first two components of the Orion crew module capsule for Exploration Mission-2 (EM-2). The EM-2 mission will be its first flight with astronauts on board.

This flight will be launched atop the Space Launch System (SLS) rocket. EM-1, which will be used for an unscrewed mission, was assembled at Michoud and final assembly is being done in Florida.

The EM-2 capsule is 30 percent lighter and has 80 percent fewer parts. The main structure of the crew module, or pressure vessel, is comprised of seven large machined aluminum alloy pieces that are welded together to produce a strong, light-weight, air-tight capsule.

The first weld joined the forward bulkhead with the tunnel section to create the top of the spacecraft. The pressure vessel capsule will continue to be built out over the spring and summer in Michoud incorporating the three cone panels, the large barrel and the aft bulkhead.

Once completed in September, it will be shipped to the Kennedy Space Center where the Lockheed Martin team will perform assembly and test of the EM-2 spacecraft. (Post)

Meanwhile, over at Stennis Space Center in Mississippi, NASA followed up the first RS-25 test of 2018 with a second hot fire of the Space Launch System (SLS) engine late in the week. The full-duration, 365-second certification test of another RS-25 engine flight controller on the A-1 Test Stand at comes about two weeks after a Jan. 16 hot fire.

The test marks completion of green run testing for all four of the new RS-25 engine flight controllers needed for the second flight of NASA’s SLS rocket. NASA is building SLS to send humans to such deep-space missions. Exploration Mission-1 (EM-1) will test the new rocket and carry an uncrewed Orion spacecraft into space beyond the moon. EM-2 will be the first flight to carry humans aboard the Orion spacecraft, returning astronauts to deep space for the first time in more than 40 years. RS-25 controllers for the EM-1 flight already are installed on the engines that will be part of the SLS core stage. (Post)


Remote sensing
WMR-532, a joint venture of Woolpert and Optimal GEO, recently hosted a training session on the Coastal Zone Mapping and Imaging Lidar program for Naval Oceanographic Office (NAVOCEANO) personnel. This session, which took place over five days at Stennis International Airport, was supported by the Joint Airborne Lidar Bathymetric Technical Center of Expertise (JALBTCX), Teledyne Optech and the Hancock County Port and Harbor Commission.

WMR-532 is providing operations and maintenance of airborne coastal mapping and charting sensors in support of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and NAVOCEANO worldwide, as well as technical support to JALBTCX. The Coastal Zone Mapping and Imaging Lidar program is designed to develop and evaluate a sensor for mapping and charting the coastal zone to improve performance and data products. (Post)


Airbus
The newest Airbus aircraft, the A321LR, completed its maiden flight in Europe during the week. The flight was two hours and 36 minutes. Thanks to new CFM LEAP-1A engines and a third fuel tank option, it can fly more than 4,300 miles non-stop, which opens up new transatlantic routes using the popular single-aisle jetliner.

The A321LR (Long Range), which can accommodate up to 240 passengers, now undergoes a nearly 100-hour flight test program and is expected to enter service in the fourth quarter of 2018. The Airbus plant in Mobile, Ala., will be producing the LR variant starting in 2019, according to Kristi Tucker, spokeswoman for the Mobile plant. (Post)


Contracts
Lockheed Martin Aeronautics Co., Fort Worth, Texas, was awarded $148 million modification to a previously awarded contract. This modification provides for the procurement of Israel-unique weapons certification, modification kits, and electronic warfare analysis in support of the F-35 Lightning II Israel system design and development to provide 3F+ fleet capability for the government of Israel under the Foreign Military Sales program. The Naval Air Systems Command, Patuxent River, Md., is the contracting activity. Eglin Air Force Base, Fla., is home of the F-35 integrated training center. … BAE Systems, Information and Electronic Systems Integration Inc., Nashua, N.H., was awarded a $13.1 million contract for the phase 2 Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency Seeker Cost Transformation program. The contract seeks to demonstrate that a high performance seeker can be used in precision guided munitions and accurately guided to a target by a low cost, modular open-architecture, low size, weight, power and cost seeker. Air Force Research Laboratory, Eglin Air Force Base, Fla., is the contracting activity. … Raytheon Missiles Systems, Tucson, Ariz., was awarded a $105.2 million modification to previously awarded contract for Griffin missiles. The contracting activity is the Air Force Lifecycle Management Center, Eglin Air Force Base, Fla.