Saturday, May 18, 2019

Week in review (5/12 to 5/17)

Since we have one location in the Gulf Coast region seeking a license to become a space port, this item might be of interest to Hancock County, Miss. It’s from late last week, and shows the importance of patience.

Spaceport America in southern New Mexico is finally getting its anchor tenant since its official opening in 2011. Billionaire Richard Branson said at a news conference May 10 that Virgin Galactic will relocate its headquarters and flight operations from California’s Mojave Air and Space Port to Spaceport America.

The move will be this summer, in anticipation of commercial spaceflights beginning by the end of the year. More than 100 Virgin Galactic flight personnel and support staff are expected to move. Virgin Galactic affiliate, manufacturer The Spaceship Company, will remain in Mojave.

Spaceport America, near Truth or Consequences, has hosted close to 50 private suborbital launches since its official 2011 opening. Taxpayers invested some $200 million with the idea that Virgin Galactic would be the anchor tenant. The facility is on the northwestern edge of the U.S. Army's White Sands Missile Range. (Story)

The Hancock County Port and Harbor Commission hopes to make Stennis International Airport in Kiln, just outside Stennis Space Center, one of the nation’s licensed spaceports. It’s no doubt a long road. But every journey begins with the first step.


Contracts – F-35
Lockheed Martin Aeronautics Co., Fort Worth, Texas, was awarded three contracts in connection with the F-35 program during the week. The Naval Air Systems Command, Patuxent River, Md., is the contracting activity for all three contracts. Eglin Air Force Base, Fla., trains F-35 pilots and maintainers.

One was a $21.4 million modification to a previously awarded contract that will provide initial repair material for the Electronic Warfare Digital Channelized Receiver/Techniques Generator Tuner Insertion Program, Fuel and Life Support systems at multiple F-35 depots within the continental U.S. Work will be performed in New Hampshire, Texas, and the United Kingdom and is expected to be completed in January 2022.

The company also was awarded an $11.9 million modification to a delivery order previously issued against a basic ordering agreement. This modification provides for modification kits and special tooling required for the modification and retrofit of the F-35 Lightning II Joint Strike Fighter in support of the Marine Corps, Air Force, Navy, non-U.S. Department of Defense (non-U.S. DoD) participants; and Foreign Military Sales (FMS) customers. Work will be performed in Fort Worth, Texas, and is expected to be completed in December 2023.

The company also was awarded an $18.5 million modification to a previously awarded contract. This modification authorizes the procurement of Diminishing Manufacturing Sources redesign activities in support of the F-35 aircraft. Work will be performed in Fort Worth, Texas, and is expected to be completed in January 2024.


Other contracts
Sikorsky, Stratford, Conn., was awarded a $1.1 billion modification to a previously awarded contract. This modification provides for the procurement of 12 Lot II and Lot III low-rate initial production CH-53K aircraft, including programmatic support, logistics support, and peculiar support equipment. Fort Walton Beach, Fla., will handle 1.11 percent of the work. Other work sites are in Connecticut, Kansas, Utah, Missouri, West Virginia, Washington, Wisconsin, New York, the United Kingdom and Canada. Work is expected to be completed in December 2023. The Naval Air Systems Command, Patuxent River, Md., is the contracting activity. … Raytheon Co., Keyport, Wash., was awarded a $20.7 million modification to a previously awarded contract to exercise options for maintenance and support of AN/AQS-20 Sonar Mine Detecting Set. The AN/AQS-20 is a towed, mine hunting and identification system for Program Executive Office, Unmanned and Small Combatants. Panama City, Fla., will handle 5 percent of the work. Other work sites are in Rhode Island and Washington. Work is expected to be completed by May 2020. The Naval Surface Warfare Center Panama City Division, Panama City, is the contracting activity. … EMR Inc., Niceville, Fla., is awarded an $18.9 million task order under a multiple award construction contract for the design and construction of P855 expeditionary combat skills student berthing at Naval Construction Battalion Center Gulfport, Miss. Work will be performed in Gulfport and is expected to be completed by June 2021. The Naval Facilities Engineering Command, Southeast, Jacksonville, Fla., is the contracting activity.

Saturday, May 11, 2019

Week in review (5/5 to 5/11)

Facing a need for a lot more workers in the coming years, Airbus during the week announced the launch of two new programs designed to employ applicants with little-to-no previous aerospace experience.

The programs, FlightPath9 and Fast Track, are intended to train candidates to become workers on the company's A320 and A220 jetliner assembly lines in Mobile. FlightPath9 is a nine-month program for high school seniors. It will be run by Flight Works Alabama, which has partnered with Airbus, Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University, Cintas, Snap-On Tools, Southwest Alabama Partnership for Training and Employment, and the National Coalition of Certification Centers.

Students will attend training after school during their senior year. Upon graduation, students who complete the program can start their career with Airbus through the second program, Fast Track.

Fast Track is a 12 to 15-week program for people with no aviation experience. It provides them with the skills needed for a career in aerospace maintenance. "When they come out of that training, the employee graduates to on-the-job training on A220 an A320 aircraft," said Daryl Taylor, vice president and general manager of the A320 manufacturing facility in Mobile.

Fast Track, while targeting Mobile-area residents, can be attended by others from the region. The announcement was attended by Gov. Kay Ivey, who congratulated each of the first class of 25 students who signed up for FlightPath9.

Airbus, which already has its A320 line up and running, is expanding that line and building a second assembly line for A220s, and expects to need 600 to 700 new workers in the next few years. (Post)

The Mobile-Pensacola portion of the aerospace corridor will be adding a lot of aviation jobs in the near future. In addition to the 600-700 in Mobile, some 60 miles to the east in Pensacola, Fla., there will be a need for 1,200 maintenance, repair and overhaul workers at the ST Engineering campus at Pensacola International Airport.


Military
Eglin Air Force Base, Fla., is the preferred alternative to receive an additional F-35A training squadron. Eglin was the location of the F-35 initial joint training site hosting Air Force, Navy and Marine Corps F-35s, but the Marine Corps relocated its F-35Bs in 2014 and the Navy announced its plans to relocate F-35Cs in 2019.

“By basing the next F-35A training squadron at Eglin Air Force Base, we are taking advantage of existing facilities and training air space,” said Secretary of the Air Force Heather Wilson.

Additional F-35As are expected to begin arriving in the fall of 2021. The new squadron is expected to reach full operational capability by spring 2023. Eglin will only receive the additional F-35 training unit if the F-22 Raptor formal training unit temporarily operating at Eglin is permanently moved to Joint Base Langley-Eustis, Va.

In March, the Air Force acknowledged plans to move the F-22 training unit to JB Langley-Eustis, pending the outcome of the National Environmental Policy Act and other regulatory and planning processes. This F-35 basing action is also dependent on completing the environmental analysis. (Post)

Eglin got the F-22 training unit after Tyndall Air Force Base, to the east of Eglin near Panama City, was hit hard by Hurricane Michael. The base is being rebuilt, and now Tyndall is being recommended by the Air Force to receive up to three operational F-35 squadrons. If approved and funded by Congress, the squadrons would arrive in 2023.


Airports
Two Louisiana airports, Baton Rouge Metropolitan Airport and Lafayette Regional Airport, were awarded $15 million and $10.5 million grants, respectively, by the Federal Aviation Administration.

Lafayette will use the money from the FAA’s Airport Improvement Program for taxiway improvement projects. The Lafayette airport is undergoing an $80 million construction project to build a new terminal. The project is expected to be completed by the end of 2021. In Baton Rouge, the funding will be used for runway, safety, and other development projects included in the airport’s master plan. (Post)


Contract
United Technologies Corp., Pratt & Whitney Engines, East Hartford, Conn., was awarded a $55.7 million modification to a previously awarded contract. This modification provides additional funding for F135 long lead items to support the production delivery schedule, exercises an option for additional initial spare parts, and provides program administrative labor for the global spares pool in support of the Navy; Air Force, and Marine Corps, non-U. S. Department of Defense (DoD) participants and Foreign Military Sales (FMS) customers. Work will be performed in East Hartford (67 percent); Indianapolis, Ind. (26.5 percent); and Bristol, United Kingdom (6.5 percent), and is expected to be completed in April 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.

Saturday, May 4, 2019

Week in review (4/28 to 5/4)

Blue Air Training, which provides training for military close air support personnel, has opened a facility at Pensacola International Airport. It’s the company’s fourth facility in this country.

Founder and CEO James Barlow said the company has more than 20 employees in Pensacola right now. But he's looking to grow that number. The company’s aircraft fleet is composed of fixed-wing A-90 Raiders, BAC-167 Strikemasters, IAR-823 Brasovs and rotary-wing AH-6 Little Birds.

Blue Air Training, headquartered in Las Vegas, began because Barlow, a former Air Force A-10 pilot, saw the need for more in-depth, hands-on close air support training for people who are on the radios.

The company received permission in 2011 to begin training Air Force attack controllers and fighter pilots. Barlow retired from the Air Force to lead the company full-time. The other U.S. operations are in Yuma, Ariz., and Oklahoma City, Okla.

Blue Air Training also has bases in South America and Wales. (Post)


Contracts
Lockheed Martin Aeronautics Co., Fort Worth, Texas, was awarded a $1.1 billion contract for sustainment services in support of the F-35 aircraft for the Air Force, Navy, non-U. S. Department of Defense (non-U.S. DoD) participants and Foreign Military Sales (FMS) customers. Work will be performed in Fort Worth, Texas (60 percent); Orlando, Fla. (24 percent); Greenville, S.C. (7 percent); Samlesbury, Preston, United Kingdom (5 percent); and El Segundo, Calif. (4 percent). Work is expected to be completed in December 2022. The Naval Air Systems Command, Patuxent River, Md., is the contracting activity. … Lockheed Martin Corp., Fort Worth, Texas, was awarded $7.5 million modification to a previously awarded contract to establish organic depot component repair capabilities for the F-35 Lightning II Air Interceptor System in support of the Air Force, Marine Corps and Navy. Work will be performed in Rochester, Kent, United Kingdom (81.6 percent); and Fort Worth, Texas (18.4 percent), and is expected to be completed in March 2023. The Naval Air Systems Command, Patuxent River, Md., is the contracting activity. … Raytheon Missile Systems Co., Tucson, Ariz., was awarded a $19.3 million modification to previously awarded contract for the Advanced Medium Range Air-to-Air Missile (AMRAAM) production program. Work will be performed in Tucson, and is expected to be complete by April 15, 2021. Air Force Life Cycle Management Center, Eglin Air Force Base, Fla., is the contracting activity.

Saturday, April 27, 2019

Week in review (4/21 to 4/27)

How important is aerospace to the Gulf Coast region? Important enough that we produce a biennial reference book that highlights the industry that's continuing to grow in the region between South Louisiana and Northwest Florida.

We're in the process of compiling Gulf Coast Aerospace Corridor 2019-2020, the seventh edition of our biennial reference book. While we do track aerospace and aviation developments in our daily news feed, this weekly column and our bimonthly newsletter, so much occurs that we need to put it all in focus every couple of years. That's the purpose of the book, a must-read for anyone interested in the field.

One chapter we're taking up this year is the growth of aircraft assembly in recent years. Jetliners are built by Airbus in Mobile, Ala., unmanned helicopters are built by Northrop Grumman in Moss Point, Miss., and in 2021 Kopter Group will assemble helicopters in Lafayette, La. In addition, if Bell wins a Navy contract, training helicopters will be built in Ozark, Ala. Why is this happening, and can we expect the growth to continue?

We'll also have updated chapters on space activities, military aviation, commercial airports, education and innovation. The book will be published in June as a 100-page PDF that will be available on our website. It will be free to readers, thanks to the support of our underwriters who back it because they recognize this is an important story to tell. A printed version will also be available at cost plus shipping from our print-on-demand provider.

Speaking of underwriters, if you're a company interested in having your name associated with this worthwhile, unique publication, give me a call or email me and I'll provide you with details. Just think of all the students and potential future workers this will reach.

Now for your week in review:


ST Engineering
ST Engineering secured around $959 million in new contracts in the aerospace sector. The Singapore group says that among the new contracts is a 10-year service agreement with a long-time, unidentified North American operator, to provide heavy maintenance checks for its fleet of Airbus A300s and Boeing 757s.

The contract will cover over 160 widebody and narrowbody aircraft, to be serviced at its maintenance, repair and overhaul (MRO) facilities in San Antonio, Texas, and Pensacola, Fla., starting in 2020.

ST Engineering has one MRO hangar in Pensacola and plans are to build three more. ST Engineering also has an operation in Mobile, Ala. (Post)


Bell
Bell has announced that, if it is selected to build the U.S. Navy’s Advanced Helicopter Trainer, it will assemble the aircraft in Ozark, Ala., where it currently does some of the assembly work for the Fire Scout unmanned helicopter.

The company would build the Bell 407GXi, and final assembly would take place in Ozark, according to Bell’s parent company Textron. Ozarks is near Fort Rucker, where the Army trains its aviators.

The Navy wants about 130 aircraft for the program. Bell’s workforce at the Ozark site could grow by 25 percent to a total of 100 workers if the company wins the competition, according to the Alabama Department of Commerce.

If selected, the Bell 407GXi would replace the Navy’s TH-57 Sea Ranger training helicopters, which Bell first introduced in the 1970s. A decision from the Navy is expected later this year. Bell is competing against Airbus Helicopters and Leonardo Helicopters. (Post)


Contracts – F-35
Lockheed Martin Aeronautics Co., Fort Worth, Texas, was awarded a $117.1 million modification to a delivery order previously placed against a basic ordering agreement. This modification provides for air vehicle initial spares to include a deployment spares package, afloat spares package, and associated consumables to support air vehicle delivery schedules for the F-35 Lightning II Joint Strike Fighter aircraft in support of the Air Force and Marine Corps. Work will be performed in a variety of locations in the United States and Europe. Work is expected to be completed in August 2023. The Naval Air Systems Command, Patuxent River, Md., is the contracting activity. … Lockheed Martin Corp., Fort Worth, Texas, was awarded $90.8 million modification to a previously awarded contract. This modification will stand up organic depot repair capabilities for the F-35 integrated core processor. Work will be performed in a variety of locations in the United States and is expected to be completed in October 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.


Contracts – other
The Boeing Co., St. Louis, Mo., was awarded a $127.6 million modification to a previously awarded contract for the B61-12 Life Extension Program. This modification provides for the initiation of an undefinitized contract action for Lot 1 and Lot 2 Long Lead items. Work will be performed in Saint Charles, Mo., and is expected to be complete by Aug. 31, 2020. Air Force Nuclear Weapons Center, Eglin Air Force Base, Fla., is the contracting activity. … Korte Construction Co., St. Louis, Mo., was awarded a $31.3 million contract to design and build an Integrated Training Center Academics Building at Eglin Air Force Base, Fla. Work will be performed in Okaloosa County, Fla., with an estimated completion date of April 30, 2021. U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, Mobile, Ala., is the contracting activity.

Saturday, April 20, 2019

Week in review (4/14 to 4/20)

As the editor of several Gulf Coast aerospace publications, I’m never sure when I go to events that are not specifically focused on aerospace what, if anything, I’ll come back with.

That was the case with the 22nd Gulf Power Economic Symposium, held Wednesday and Thursday at the Sandestin Resort in Miramar Beach. I go every year – there were 638 participants this year – because the event is always interesting and informative, with good speakers. And I usually get something out of it that’s aerospace-related.

Besides, I get to see folks I know who I don't get a chance to see on a regular basis.

I went Wednesday for just part of the day, then returned Thursday for the entire half-day event, where there were talks about innovation, public/private partnerships and what factors might make a company pick one site over another.

Thursday also included remarks by Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis, who talked about the trend of people, businesses and wealth moving from highly taxed, highly regulated states to places like Florida. He said Florida has low taxes, reasonable regulations and conservative spending. "I think we're seeing more and more people who want to come and invest in Florida for those reasons," he said.

DeSantis also talked about the state's approach to preparing workers for the future. He said that while Florida's university system is ranked No. 1 by U.S. News and World Report, the university path is not the only road to success.

"We set a goal to make Florida No. 1 in workforce education by 2030," he said, noting that the state is now in the middle of the pack. (Post)

After his talk, DeSantis spent a few minutes with reporters to answer questions. Needless to say, I took the opportunity to focus on aerospace, and asked him how the state is doing compared to other states as an aerospace power.

"I think that in many respects we're leading the way," he said. He pointed out that the growth in commercial space activity is "a very big deal," and said many of those companies have chosen Florida to set up operations. They use Florida not only for launches, but for manufacturing.

And he’s also interested in getting Florida on the radar for the Space Force – should that happen.

“I've been talking with the president about locating the combatant command for U.S. Space Force in Florida. He is definitely considering it ... I think Florida is uniquely positioned for that. We already have three combatant commands,” he said.

Getting the space force would not only be good substantively, but symbolically. “That would kind of show, hey, Florida is the place to be for space.”

I also asked him how Florida does compared to other states in K-12 education. After all, he said in his talk that the state’s higher education system ranks high, and that he intends to make it No. 1 in workforce training.

The governor pointed out that Florida is a diverse state, and K-12 education varies, but pointed out that the state’s NAEP (National Assessment of Educational Progress) scores have improved in the last 20 years, and recently made the top 10.

The need as he sees it is to focus on the basics, and to put more emphasis on vocational training at the high school level. One of his concerns is civics education, a very important part of schooling that ensure youth understand the basics and the nation’s foundation.

I couldn’t agree with him more. A 2016 survey by the Annenberg Public Policy Center found that only 26 percent of Americans can name all three branches of government, a significant decline from previous years. And that's just one part of a host of basics that any good citizen should know.

Without an understanding of the structure of government, our rights and responsibilities, and the different methods of public engagement, civic literacy will continue to plague our nation. Schools have a responsibility to ensure that young people become knowledgeable citizens. The increased focus on math and reading in K–12 education, while important, shouldn’t push out civics and other important subjects.

And while we're at it, how about more history, which should go hand-in-hand with civics. An educated public is the best way to ensure our future.

The next Gulf Power Symposium will be held in February 2020, again at Sandestin.


Corporate
ST Engineering has been given approval by regulators in the United States to acquire GE Aviation’s nacelle unit. The Singapore group is acquiring Middle River Aircraft Systems (MRAS) in a deal worth an estimated net price of $440 million.

ST Engineering’s U.S. subsidiary, Vision Technologies Aerospace, is acquiring all the shares of Baltimore, Md.-based MRAS, the sole supplier of certain nacelle equipment for GE engines powering the Airbus A330, Boeing 747-8, 767, Comac ARJ21 and Embraer 190.

It specializes in the development, production and aftermarket support of nacelles, thrust reversers and aerostructures and employs around 800 staff. ST Engineering has maintenance, repair and overhaul operations in Mobile, Ala., and Pensacola, Fla. (Post)


Contracts
Pratt and Whitney Engines, East Hartford, Conn., was awarded a $201.9 million modification to the previously awarded advance acquisition contract. This modification provides for long-lead materials, parts, and components for Lot 14 F135 Propulsion systems for the F-35 Lightning II Joint Strike Fighter aircraft in support of the Air Force, Marine Corps, Navy, non-U.S. Department of Defense (non-U.S. DoD) participants; and Foreign Military Sales (FMS) customers. Work will be performed in East Hartford; Indianapolis, Ind.; and Bristol, United Kingdom, and is expected to be completed in April 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 $65 million contract for Small Diameter Bomb Increment I miniature munitions. This contract provides for integration, sustainment and support of the Small Diameter Bomb Increment I miniature munition and carriage system on various Foreign Military Sales aircraft platforms. This support includes all testing, engineering, management, technical, and logistical activities associated with Small Diameter Bomb Increment I weapon system with various aircraft and associated systems. Work will be performed in St. Louis, various Air Force test ranges, and in each respective country. Work is expected to be complete by April 15, 2029. Air Force Life Cycle Management Center, Eglin Air Force Base, Fla., is the contracting activity. … Raytheon Missile Systems Co., Tucson, Ariz., was awarded a $19.1 million modification to a previously awarded contract for Advanced Medium Range Air-to-Air Missile (AMRAAM) production program. This modification provides for upgrade and commonality of AMRAAM production test equipment being produced and utilized
under the basic contract. Work will be performed in Tucson and is expected to be complete by April 15, 2022. Air Force Life Cycle Management Center, Eglin Air Force Base, Fla., is the contracting activity.

Saturday, April 13, 2019

Week in review (4/7 to 4/13)

Alabamians voted overwhelmingly for Donald Trump, and are probably among his most ardent supporters. That’s unlikely to change, but that support may come more grudgingly, at least in Southwest Alabama, if the president’s plan to impose $11.2 billion in tariffs on imports from the European Union comes to pass.

That’s because the targeted items include the aircraft sections that are shipped from Europe and used in Mobile to assemble the A320 series of jetliners. What it might do to the Mobile operation should the tariffs happen is unclear, but it will no doubt benefit Airbus rival Boeing.

The call for tariffs comes at a time when Boeing is under a spotlight over the crash of two 737 Max jetliners within a five-month span that killed more than 350 people. Both crashes were traced to a problem with sensors on the nose of the planes.

Pilots for years have relied on sensors to warn them of dangerous stalls. But in the Boeing Max the sensors go beyond warning and force the nose down automatically. A review of public databases by Bloomberg News shows that since the early 1990s, there are at least 140 instances of sensors on U.S. planes being damaged by equipment on the ground or bird strikes.

While Boeing is working on a fix, its Max planes have been grounded. So the tariffs are, for Boeing, a bit of good news. At least for the time being, because the EU is planning its own retaliation.

Airbus and Boeing compete for industry dominance. Both sides have been judged by the World Trade Organization to have paid billions in subsidies to gain advantage, and have been asked to stop or face potential sanctions.

In Brussels during the week, European Union countries gave initial clearance to start formal trade talks with the United States. Both sides have won partial victories at the WTO but disagree on the amount involved and whether each has complied with earlier WTO rulings.

According to Reuters, the European Commission has drawn up a list of U.S. imports worth around $22.6 billion that it could hit with tariffs over the transatlantic aircraft subsidy dispute, EU diplomats said Friday.

The final amount decided by the WTO arbitrator could also be lower. The EU had also initially requested that the WTO authorize countermeasures of $12 billion.

The arbitrator’s decision may not come before March 2020. In the U.S. case a WTO decision could come in June or July this year.


Military
Retired Air Force Lt. Col. Richard E. Cole, the last living member of the WWII bombing mission by the Doolittle Radiers, died April 9 in Texas at the age of 103. Cole was one of 80 Army Air Corps personnel that volunteered for the mission, a team led by then-Lt. Col. James Doolittle to strike Japan on April 18, 1942, after the sneak attack on Pearl Harbor.

Sixteen B-25 bombers launched from the deck of the aircraft carrier USS Hornet. The team trained at Eglin Field in Florida for two weeks. Damage from the raid was slight, but showed that Japan was not beyond the reach of American air power. Seven of the raiders lost their lives in the mission. Cole bailed out of the B-25 after the raid while trying to reach a landing site in China.

He will be interred at Arlington National Cemetery. (Post)

-- Air Force Maj. Gen. Marc H. Sasseville has been nominated for appointment to the rank of lieutenant general, and assignment as commander, Continental U.S. North American Aerospace Defense Command Region; and commander, First Air Force (Air Forces Northern), Tyndall Air Force Base, Fla. Sasseville is currently serving as deputy director, Air National Guard, Pentagon, Washington, D.C. (Post)


Space
NASA conducted a successful hot fire test of an RS-25 engine during the week, the culmination of four-plus years of testing for the RS-25 engines that will send the first four Space Launch System (SLS) rockets into space.

The RS-25 rocket engine test era began Jan. 9, 2015, with a 500-second hot fire of RS-25 developmental engine No. 0525 on the A-1 Test Stand at Stennis. NASA tested the first SLS flight engine on March 10, 2016.

Altogether, the agency has conducted 32 developmental and flight engine tests for a total of 14,754 seconds, all on the A-1 stand at Stennis. Having launched 135 space shuttle missions, these main engines are considered the most tested engines in the world. When the Space Shuttle Program ended in 2011, NASA still had 16 engines that ultimately were modified for SLS. (Post)


Newsletter
The Gulf Coast Reporters League/Gulf Coast Aerospace Corridor Newsletter for April is available at the website Gulf Coast Aerospace Corridor for download.

There's a story about the National Flight Academy in Pensacola, which is piquing the interest of young people in the aerospace and aviation fields at a time that the industry is facing shortages of workers. There's also a story about the new helicopter simulators at Naval Air Station Whiting Field, near Milton, Fla., as well as an analysis on the growth of the region's aircraft assembly footprint. (Post)


Contract
The Boeing Co., St. Louis, Mo., has been awarded a $21.6 million modification to a previously awarded contract for GBU-57 Massive Ordnance Penetrator sustainment. Work will be performed in St. Louis and is expected to be complete by July 18, 2023. This modification brings the total cumulative face value of the contract to $26.4 million. Air Force Life Cycle Management Center, Eglin Air Force Base, Fla., is the contracting activity.

Saturday, April 6, 2019

Week in review (3/31 to 4/6)

The April edition of the Gulf Coast Aerospace Corridor/Gulf Coast Reporters League newsletter will publish this coming Tuesday.

This issue will fill you in on the importance of the National Flight Academy at Naval Air Station Pensacola, Fla., at a time when the aerospace industry is concerned about getting the next generation of aviation workers. For the immediate Mobile-Pensacola area, some 2,000 new jobs will have to be filled in the next few years.

We also have a story on the new high-tech simulators that are going to Naval Air Station Whiting Field near Milton, Fla., plus additional stories about the Navy’s search for a new training helicopter and an update on Santa Rosa County’s work to create Whiting Aviation Park.

There’s also a piece on the new SHO9 helicopters that will be assembled in Lafayette, La., by the Kopter Group of Switzerland. It adds another layer to the aircraft assembly operation in the region. Included in that story is an update on happenings at the Mobile Aeroplex in Mobile, Ala.

The eight-page publication will be sent to the inbox of subscribers – it’s free – and others can grab it at our website. Now for your week in review:


Education - attraction
What’s it like to be launched in space?

The National Naval Aviation Museum in Pensacola, Fla., has a new Apollo 11 virtual reality (VR) attraction designed to let visitors walk in the footsteps of Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin.

The 5-minute, $10 experience includes climbing aboard the rocket, actually a row of a dozen seats facing a replica Houston Mission Control.

The seats move, by the way, shaking and pitching, like you might experience in a spacecraft. After launch, riders get a 360 degree view of earth and space while heading to the moon.

Animation of the historic 1969 landing allows guests to see what the astronauts might have witnessed and felt. This year is the 50th anniversary of the moon landing. (Post)

Many of us who are, uh, old timers, remember the landing, watching it on television. Some of us even made younger siblings look at the historic landing – even though they had other things they’d rather do.


Military
Cmdr. Brian Kesselring will be the Blue Angels flight leader and commanding officer for the 2020 and 2021 show seasons. Kesselring will replace current Blue Angels commanding officer Capt. Eric Doyle in November 2019, when the show season ends.

Kesselring will lead the Pensacola, Fla.-based team during its 75th anniversary season in 2021, and will likely oversee the transition from the F/A-18 Hornet to the Super Hornet. The Navy expects the change to happen in 2021.

It will mark the first time in 35 years the Blue Angels have changed aircraft. (Post)

If you haven’t seen the Blue Angels perform, you’re missing something special. A few years ago we took a visitor to see the team practice at Naval Air Station Pensacola. If you’ve never seen a practice session, it’s quite enjoyable – especially hearing the volunteers who give a play-by-play in front of the visitors sitting in the stands.


Contracts - NASA
NASA has awarded a task order to CenturyLink, of Va., to provide support of NASA’s core backbone services including Optical Wavelength Service (OWS) and ethernet interfaces. The task order has a performance period consisting of an 18-month base period plus four two-year option periods, for a total order value of $11.4 million. … NASA also has awarded a contract to Seventh Sense Consulting LLC, of Woodbridge, Va., to provide Agency Wide Acquisition Support Services (AWASS) to all NASA centers. The $24.6 million contract has a one-year base period beginning July 1, and four one-year options which run through June 30, 2024 if all options are exercised. Both contracts will be administered by the NASA Shared Services Center at the agency’s Stennis Space Center, Miss.

Contracts - DoD
Boeing Defense Space and Security, St. Louis, Mo., was awarded a $250 million contract for Joint Direct Attack Munition/Laser Joint Direct Attack Munition (JDAM/LJDAM) technical services, aircraft integration, and sustainment. This contract provides for JDAM/LJDAM-specific activities including, but not limited to, technical services, aircraft integration, and sustainment. Work will be performed in St. Louis, and is expected to be complete by March 2029. The Air Force Life Cycle Management Center, Eglin Air Force Base, Fla., is the contracting activity. … Lockheed Martin Aeronautics Co., Fort Worth, Texas, was awarded a $151.3 million modification to a previously awarded advance acquisition contract. This modification provides for the procurement of long-lead items for the manufacture and delivery of 21 F-35 Lightning II Lot 14 low-rate initial production aircraft for the governments of Australia (15) and Norway (6). 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. … Northrop Grumman Systems Corp., San Diego, Calif., was awarded a $12.9 million modification to a previously awarded contract. This modification upgrades three MQ-4C Triton aircraft from a baseline Integrated Functional Capability (IFC) 3 software configuration to a Multi-IFC 4 software configuration. Fourteen percent of the work will be performed in Moss Point, Miss., and is expected to be completed in October 2021. The Naval Air Systems Command, Patuxent River, Md., is the contracting activity. … Northrop Grumman Systems Corp., San Diego, Calif., was awarded a $7.2 million advance acquisition contract modification to a previously awarded contract. This modification extends the period of performance and provides additional funding to procure long lead components, material, parts and associated efforts required to maintain the MQ-4C Triton Unmanned Aircraft System planned low rate initial production, lot 4 production schedule. The Naval Air Systems Command, Patuxent River, Md., is the contracting activity. Fuselage work on the Tritons is done in Moss Point, Miss. … AECOM Management Services Inc., Germantown, Md., was awarded $30.6 million modification to a previously awarded contract. This modification provides for the procurement of aviation support equipment in support of the Fleet Readiness Centers. New Orleans is one of the work locations with five percent. Work is expected to be completed in April 2022. The Naval Air Warfare Center Aircraft Division, Lakehurst, N.J., is the contracting activity. … Peerless Technologies Corp., Fairborn, Ohio, was awarded $47.2 million for advisory and assistance services to support the Air Force Civil Engineering Center energy directorate. Work will be performed at Tyndall Air Force Base, Fla., and is expected to be complete by April 10, 2024. The Air Force Installation Contracting Agency, Joint Base San Antonio, Texas, is the contracting activity.

Saturday, March 30, 2019

Week in review (3/24 to 3/30)

The Pensacola City Council approved the new lease for ST Engineering and authorized the mayor to borrow up to $20 million to float the cash until the city begins receiving grants approved to fund the $210 million project.

The vote clears the way for ST Engineering's expansion of its aircraft maintenance repair and overhaul hangar, although the city has yet to identify funds for the last $4.8 million needed to fully fund the project.

The loan authorization will allow the mayor to provide cash flow to pay contractors building the three new hangars and administration building. ST Engineering opened a hangar at the airport last year and is in the process of hiring 400 workers. Once the three additional hangars are built, the company will hire another 1,325 workers.

Construction of the first new hangar could begin this year. (Post)


Airbus
HPM announced the selection of teams for construction of the Airbus A220 assembly line in Mobile, Ala.

BL Harbert International of Birmingham teamed with the design firm FSB and have been selected for Package 3 of the project, design-build services for four additional hangar bays. It's targeted for completion in the third quarter of 2019.

H.O. Weaver and Sons of Mobile has been awarded the Enabling Works Package of preparations to make a building site ready for construction. It covers activities from site preparation, creation of access routes, and the installation of facilities like security fencing, ramps, and signage placement. It's targeted for completion in early 2019.

Birmingham-based Brasfield & Gorrie teamed with Huntsville-based design firm BRPH has been selected for Package 1 of the project, design-build services for the building of the new A220 final assembly line and existing logistic center expansion. It's targeted for completion in mid-2020.

HPM, which has offices in Alabama, Georgia, Texas, and Florida, is responsible for managing all aspects of the design and construction of the new facility, as well as expansion of Airbus’ current facilities to accommodate increased A320 family production on the site. HPM continues to work with its long-time industry partner, Mott McDonald, providing program management services for the A220, as both firms did for the A320 campus. (Post)

-- The first employees of the new Airbus assembly line in Mobile reported for work early in the week, according to the company. The assembly line itself is in the early phases of construction.

When complete, it will be one of two sites in the world where Airbus produces the A220 series, a single-aisle, twin-engine line of jets that's smaller than the A320 jets that Airbus already assembles in Mobile.

The company announced in a Facebook post that a group of employees began new hire orientation training Monday at the AIDT facility in the Mobile Aeroplex at Brookley. Those workers will eventually travel to Mirabel, Quebec, Canada, to train for three months with workers on the A220 assembly line.

In another development, the Airbus-Bombardier partnership to produce the A220 has been renamed the Airbus Canada Limited Partnership. (Post)


Airports
In Alabama, the new downtown Mobile airport at the Mobile Aeroplex on Michigan Avenue is just a few weeks away from opening.

Chris Curry, president of the Mobile Airport Authority, said there will be five ticket counters at the $6 million, 22,000 square-foot terminal, with plans to expand. The first flight, a Frontier flight, is scheduled to fly out May first. (Post)

The other carrier planning to use the terminal, Via Airlines, has put on hold flights from Mobile to Birmingham due to a lack of commitment from business leaders in the communities. Don Bowman, director of planning and business development for the Orlando-based airline, said he’s hopeful the commitments will happen. (Story)


Space
The President has nominated to the Senate Gen. John W. “Jay” Raymond as the Commander, United States Space Command (USSPACECOM). If confirmed, Raymond will lead the soon-to-be established USSPACECOM, which will focus on conducting all joint space warfighting operations, and ensuring the combat readiness of global forces.

If confirmed, and upon establishment of USSPACECOM, Raymond will remain dual-hatted as Commander, Air Force Space Command, Peterson Air Force Base, Colo.

The 20th Space Control Squadron at Eglin Air Force Base, Fla., is a unit of the 21st Space Wing of Peterson AFB. The squadron detects, tracks, identifies, and reports near earth and deep space objects in earth's orbit, and provides space object identification data in support of United States Strategic Command's space control mission. (Post)


Bases
The Air Force issued a notice in the Federal Register of March 26 to advise the public of its intent to prepare an Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) for the proposed action to permanently bed-down its F-22 Formal Training Unit (FTU).

The unit had been based at Tyndall Air Force Base, Fla., but was temporarily moved to Eglin Air Force Base, Fla., after Hurricane Michael damaged Tyndall. The base is currently being rebuilt.

With this notice, the Air Force is initiating its scoping process and inviting the affected public to attend meetings in locations near Langley Air Force Base, Va., Eglin and Tyndall. The dates, times and locations for the scoping meetings will be announced locally, but not later than May 15.

The EIS will assess the potential environmental consequences of the proposed action to bed-down the F-22 FTU at Langley AFB, and the No Action Alternative, which consists of continuing F-22 FTU operations from a combination of Eglin and Tyndall. There is only one F-22 FTU and it consists of F-22 aircraft of the 43rd Fighter Squadron and its associated T-38 aircraft in the 2d Fighter Training Squadron at Tyndall. (Post)


Contracts
Vertex Aerospace LLC, Madison, Miss., was awarded a $20 million modification to a previously awarded contract. This modification increases the ceiling and extends the period of performance of the contract to provide additional TH-57 logistics support services and materials for organizational and depot level maintenance in support of the TH-57 fleet. Work will be performed in Milton, Fla., and is expected to be completed in May 2019. The Naval Air Systems Command, Patuxent River, Md., is the contracting activity. … Lockheed Martin Aeronautics Co., Fort Worth, Texas, was awarded a $9.7 million modification to a previously awarded contract to develop and integrate the Digital Channelized Receiver/Techniques Generator and Tuner Insertion Program into the F-35 Australia, Canada, United Kingdom Reprogramming Laboratory and deliver other development upgrades to the facility. Work will be performed at Eglin Air Force Base, Fla., and is expected to be completed in March 2020. The Naval Air Systems Command, Patuxent River, Md., is the contracting activity. … Support Services LLC, Cape Canaveral, Fla., was awarded a $23 million modification under a previously awarded contract to exercise Option One for base operations support services at Naval Air Station Pensacola, Fla., and outlying areas Saufley Field, Corry Station, and Bronson Field. The work to be performed provides for all management, supervision, labor, equipment, materials, supplies, and tools necessary to perform facilities management, facilities investment, facility maintenance services (non-family housing), utility plant and distribution system operations and maintenance (chiller, electrical, gas, wastewater, steam and water), environmental services, and base support vehicles and equipment. Work will be performed in Pensacola and work for this option period is expected to be completed March 2020. The Naval Facilities Engineering Command, Southeast, Jacksonville, Fla., is the contracting activity. … Sierra Nevada Corp., Sparks, Nev., was awarded a $317 million contract for the Precision Strike Package program. This contract provides contractor logistics support for the Precision Strike Package in support of the AC-130W and AC-130J. Work will be performed at Cannon Air Force Base, N.M.; and Hurlburt Field, Fla., and is expected to be complete by Sept. 30, 2026. Air Force Life Cycle Management Center, Robins Air Force Base, Ga., is the contracting activity. … General Atomics Aeronautical Systems Inc., Poway, Calif., was awarded a $9.2 million contract for the United Kingdom MQ-9 Reaper contractor logistics support effort. This contract provides for ongoing sustainment of the UK MQ-9 fleet. Work will be performed at multiple stateside and international locations, and is expected to be completed by June 30, 2019. Air Force Life Cycle Management Center, Wright Patterson Air Force Base, Ohio, is the contracting activity. Note: Hurlburt Field, Fla., is getting an MQ-9 squadron in late 2019. … Northrop Grumman Systems Corp., Annapolis, Md., was awarded a $10.2 million modification to a previously awarded contract to exercise options for the accomplishment of depot level repair, maintenance, and modifications of the AN/AQS-24 Mine Detecting System to support the Navy for the currently deployed airborne mine countermeasures legacy systems. Northrop Grumman Undersea Systems will provide depot repairs and incorporation of engineering change proposals, including the updates of all integrated logistics support documentation to support the conversions and sustainment. Work will be performed in Annapolis, and is expected to be completed by April 2020. Naval Surface Warfare Center, Panama City Division, Panama City, Fla. is the contracting activity.

Saturday, March 23, 2019

Week in review (3/17 to 3/23)

Because we build jetliners in this region, I always pay close attention to the industry in general, and to Airbus and Boeing in particular. And times are a bit tough for Airbus’ chief competitor, Boeing.

Two crashes of 737 Max passenger jets, one in Indonesia and the other in Ethiopia some five months later, caused more than 300 deaths have the company under the spotlight. In both crashes, the planes pitched up then down shortly after takeoff. At issue is the autonomous flight control system, and flaws in the certification process. The FAA ordered the 737s grounded March 13 while investigations continue.

For a detailed story about the problems, take a look at a March 17 story, updated March 21, in the Seattle Times by aerospace reporter Dominic Gates. You can read it here. But I would urge you to read any number of stories about the case. Yes, it’s a software problem, but it’s also a certification problem, training problem and a problem of what can happen rushing to get a product into service.

It also makes me wonder what all of this means for autonomous road vehicles. Will they learn a lesson?

Now for your week in review:


Military
A request from a weapons office at Eglin Air Force Base, Fla., has resulted in some new testing that hasn’t been done in 20 years involving the B-1B Lancer aircraft. The testing is being done at Arnold Engineering Development Complex at Arnold Air Force Base, Tenn.

This long absence ended earlier this year as a 10 percent model of the bomber began conducting a series of store separation tests in the 16-foot transonic wind tunnel at Arnold. The tests were requested by an AEDC testing partner, the Air Force SEEK EAGLE Office (AFSEO) of Eglin.

A new targeting pod design has been introduced for the aircraft, and officials in the SEEK EAGLE Office will examine the effects of the new pod on the B-1B Lancer. Tests will be conducted on five store models at Arnold to determine whether the full-size munitions will cleanly release from the bomber in flight. (Post)

-- The Florida A&M University-Florida State University College of Engineering and researchers and engineers from Eglin Air Force Base have begun a new partnership to train graduate and undergraduate students in areas critical to the Air Force.

The Air Force Research Laboratory (AFRL) at Eglin will fund a $400,000 grant to create the Air Force Research Laboratory Scholars program at the College of Engineering. The summer STEM-related intern program will bring students into the laboratory environment where they can directly benefit from working with faculty researchers on Air Force-related research. (Post)


Contract - munitions
General Dynamics, Ordnance and Tactical Systems, Niceville, Fla., was awarded a
$27.6 million modification to a previously awarded contract for the BLU-134/B Improved Lethality Warhead. Work will be performed in Niceville, and is expected to be complete by Sept. 30, 2020. Air Force Life Cycle Management Center, Eglin Air Force Base, Fla., is the contracting activity. … Lockheed Martin Corp. Rotary and Mission Systems, King of Prussia, Pa., was awarded a $9.1 million contract for Joint Air-to-Surface Standoff Missile (JASSM) Enterprise Management System 8.0. 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 21, 2020. Air Force Life Cycle Management Center, Eglin, Air Force Base, Fla., is the contracting activity for both munitions contract. … Scientific Applications Research Associates Inc., Cypress, Calif., was awarded a $100 million contract for the Golden Horde Science and Technology demonstration effort. This contract provides for support research and development of emerging munition technologies, as well as integrated weapon demonstrations. The effort is conceptualized as a fast-paced Air Force Research Laboratory-led demonstration project executed under the auspices of the Team Eglin Weapon Consortium. Work will be performed in Cypress, and is expected to be complete by December 2021. Air Force Research Laboratory, Eglin Air Force Base, Fla., is the contracting activity.


Contracts – MQ-9
General Atomics Aeronautical Systems Inc., Poway, Calif., was awarded a $123.3 million contract action for MQ-9 Block 5 procurement. This contract provides for four MQ-9 unmanned air vehicles, four Mobile Ground Control Stations, spares, and support equipment. Work will be performed predominately in Poway, and is expected to be complete by Dec. 31, 2020. … General Atomics Aeronautical Systems Inc., Poway, Calif., also was awarded a contract action for the France MQ-9 Block 1 Weapons integration effort. This contract provides for the production and integration of weapons kits onto the French Air Force MQ-9 Block 1 aircraft. Work will be performed in Poway, and is expected to be complete by Sept. 30, 2020. … MAG Aerospace, Newport News, Va., has been awarded an $11.4 million contract for the UK MQ-9 Reaper Operations Center. This contract provides for ongoing sustainment, management, development and network administration of the United Kingdom MQ-9 Reaper Operations Centers. Work will be performed at Creech Air Force Base, Nev.; and Royal Air Force Waddington, United Kingdom, and is expected to be complete by Sept. 30, 2021. Air Force Life Cycle Center, Wright-Patterson Air Force Base, Ohio, is the contracting activity for all three MQ-9 contracts. Gulf Coast note: Hurlburt Field, Fla., is getting an MQ-9 squadron in late 2019.


Contract – F-35
Lockheed Martin Corp., Lockheed Martin Aeronautics Co., Fort Worth, Texas, was awarded a $264.7 million modification to a previously awarded contract. This modification provides for additional operation and technical services in support of the government of Korea’s F-35 Lightning II program. Work will be performed in Fort Worth and is expected to be completed in June 2020. …United Technologies Corp., Pratt & Whitney Engines, Hartford, Conn., was awarded $18.4 million for a modification to a previously awarded contract. This modification provides additional funding for F-135 long lead items in support of non-U.S. Department of Defense (U.S. DoD) participants. Work will be performed in East Hartford, Conn. (67 percent); Indianapolis, Ind. (26.5 percent); and Bristol, United Kingdom (6.5 percent), and is expected to be completed in March 2022. … Lockheed Martin Corp., Lockheed Martin Aeronautics Co., Fort Worth, Texas, was awarded $14.6 million modification to a previously issued delivery order placed against a basic ordering agreement. This order procures 62 low-rate initial production Organic Light Emitting Diode Helmet Display Units and spares in support of the F-35 Lightning II Joint Strike Aircraft for the Navy and Marine Corps. Work will be performed in Fort Worth, and is expected to be completed in February 2020. The Naval Air Systems Command, Patuxent River, Md., is the contracting activity for all three contracts. Gulf Coast note: Eglin Air Force Base, Fla., is home of the F-35 integrated training center.


Contracts - construction
Whitesell-Green Inc., Pensacola, Fla., was awarded a $26.4 million contract to design and build student dorms. Work will be performed in Eglin Air Force Base, Fla., with an estimated completion date of March 21, 2021. U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, Mobile, Ala., is the contracting activity. … URS Group Inc., Morrisville, N.C., was awarded a $9.8 million modification under a previously awarded multiple award construction contract for phase one of Hurricane Michael repairs for stabilization and repairs to multiple buildings at Naval Support Activity Panama City, Fla. Work will be performed in Panama City and is expected to be completed by September 2019. Naval Facilities Engineering Command Southeast, Jacksonville, Fla., is the contracting activity.

Saturday, March 16, 2019

Week in review (3/10 to 3/16)

The Gulf Coast aerospace corridor has a lot of unique military operations, and one of them is the U.S. Air Force Special Operations Command at Hurlburt Field in Northwest Florida.

Hurlburt’s 4th Special Operations Squadron, part of the 1st Special Operations Wing, has received an upgraded version of its powerful gunship, the Block 30 model of AC-130J Ghostrider.

The 4th SOS, the Air Force’s most deployed squadron, currently uses the AC-130U Spooky, which is gradually being retired from active duty after more than 20 years of operation.

The new model will be used in the same role as the current one: close air support, air interdiction, and armed reconnaissance, but it has upgraded avionics, navigation systems and a Precision Strike Package that includes trainable 30mm and 105mm weapons.

It also costs less to operate per flying hour because of upgraded turboprop engines. (Post)

The AC-130 has its weapons mounted to fire from the port side of the fuselage. During an attack, the gunship does a pylon turn – banking in a large circle around the target. It can fire on a target far longer than is possible with a strafing attack.

It’s an impressive piece of military hardware. Many years ago I was invited to fly aboard one of the gunships during a training mission, so I could see how it performs. We also did an aerial refueling. I can tell you that I would not like to be on the receiving end of an attack.

-- While we’re on the subject of aircraft, the Air Force plans to buy a handful of A-29 Super Tucano and AT-6 Wolverines aircraft. That’s what Chief of Staff Gen. Dave Goldfein told lawmakers during the week at a Senate Appropriations Committee hearing.

Sure, the purchase will be small – two or three of each type, according to an Air Force spokeswoman. But the purchases would be a show of confidence for Sierra Nevada and Textron, both of which have made internal funding investments toward the Air Force's light-attack experiment.

The Air Force plans to put mini-detachments of AT-6 and A-29 turboprops at Hurlburt Field, Fla., and Nellis Air Force Base, Nev.

Funding is to come from previous years’ budgets. Most of the light-attack experiment is centered on turboprops, but the Air Force is also interested in expanding that to include drones and rotorcraft. FY-20’s budget request calls for $35M to continue the experiment. (Post)

The A-29 is built by Brazil’s Embraer, but it’s partnered with Sierra Nevada and has an assembly line in Jacksonville, Fla. The Beechcraft AT-6 is owned by Textron Aviation and is built in Kansas.

-- There were two change-of-command ceremonies in Northwest Florida Thursday. In Pensacola, Capt. Christopher Martin turned over his command of Naval Air Station Pensacola in a change of command and retirement ceremony at the National Naval Avition Museum. Taking over is Capt. Timothy Kinsella, a pilot who has been in the Navy 30 years. Martin, commanding officer of NAS Pensacola for three years, also retired from the U.S. Navy after 35 years of service.

Meanwhile, in Milton, Navy Capt. Doug Rosa took command of Training Air Wing Five in a change of command ceremony at Naval Air Station Whiting Field. He assumed the title of commodore for the Navy’s largest aviation training wing. Marine Corps Col. Dave Morris relinquished command at the event after 18 months as commodore. He will move onto another assignment at the Pentagon. (Post)


Economic development
Lafayette Regional Airport, a couple of hours west of New Orleans along the Interstate 10 corridor, will be building helicopters in a building once used by Bell. A ribbon-cutting was held Saturday for the Kopter Group's new SHO9 helicopter assembly facility.

Gov. John Bel Edwards joined CEO Andreas Lowenstein of Kopter Group AG, Lafayette Mayor-President Joel Robideaux, Secretary Don Pierson of Louisiana Economic Development, and other state, regional and local officials at the ribbon-cutting.

Kopter plans to create 120 new direct jobs with an average annual salary of more than $55,000, plus benefits. The company will make a $4.2 million capital investment to modify and equip the 84,700-square-foot helicopter assembly building at the 14.7-acre site. LED estimates the project will result in an additional 157 new indirect jobs, for a total or more than 275 new jobs in Acadiana and surrounding regions.

Kopter will lease the state-funded facility from the Lafayette Airport Commissions.

Headquartered in Switzerland, Kopter Group has designed, engineered and tested a series of prototype helicopters that lay the foundation for production helicopters to be assembled in Lafayette. The helicopter has room for up to eight passengers, and a payload of up to 6,600 pounds.

Suppliers include Kaman, Garmin, Parker Aerospace, Collins Aerospace, and Honeywell. The helicopters ultimately will be assembled in Lafayette with U.S.-sourced components representing at least 50 percent of the aircraft value.

Kopter will begin hiring later this year, with formal helicopter assembly activity and deliveries scheduled to begin in 2021. Production will ramp up to an anticipated annual volume of 100 helicopters by 2025. (Post)


Contracts
Hensel Phelps Construction Co., Orlando, Fla., was awarded a $59.5 million contract for construction of Advanced Munitions Technology complex. Work will be performed in Eglin Air Force Base, Fla., with an estimated completion date of Aug. 11, 2021. U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, Mobile, Ala., is the contracting activity. … NCS/EML SB JV LLC, Louisville, Ky., was awarded a $12 million contract for base operations support services at Naval Air Station Whiting Field, Fla., and outlying areas. The work to be performed to include facility investment, pest control, other (swimming pools), grounds maintenance and landscaping, pavement clearance, utilities management, electrical, wastewater, water, base support vehicles and equipment, and other related services. Work will be performed in Milton, Fla. (67 percent); and outlying areas (33 percent), and is expected to be completed by March 2020. The Naval Facilities Engineering Command, Southeast, Jacksonville, Fla., is the contracting activity. … Northrop Grumman Systems Corp., San Diego, Calif., was awarded an $89.5 million contract to provide sustainment and engineering services in support of the MQ-4C Triton Unmanned Aircraft System. Additionally, this contract procures the technical expertise of field service representatives, logisticians and test support to ensure MQ-4C air vehicles and mission control and operator training systems are fully sustained and mission capable. Work will be performed at Patuxent River, Md. (45 percent); Jacksonville, Fla. (25 percent); Andersen Air Force Base, Guam (20 percent); and Point Mugu, Calif. (10 percent), and is expected to be completed in March 2020. The Naval Air Systems Command, Patuxent River, is the contracting activity. Northrop Grumman Unmanned Systems Center in Moss Point, Miss., performs fuselage work on the Triton. … Jacobs Technology Inc., Fort Walton Beach, Fla., was awarded a $38.3 million contract for testing for evaluation of various interactions of chemical and biological agents. Work will be performed in Dugway Proving Ground, Utah, with an estimated completion date of June 23, 2020. U.S. Army Mission and Installation Contracting Command, Dugway Proving Ground, is the contracting activity.

Saturday, March 9, 2019

Week in review (3/3 to 3/9)

We are on our way back to having astronauts again launch from the United States in a U.S.-built spacecraft. And it’s looking like the first to do it won’t be NASA, but a commercial venture, California-based SpaceX.

The company’s Crew Dragon capsule successfully docked with the International Space Station (ISS) during the week, then uncoupled and returned to Earth, splashing down in the Atlantic Ocean, some 230 miles from the Florida coast Friday at 8:45 a.m. EST.

The capsule, carrying 400 pounds of supplies for ISS, was launched by the Falcon 9 rocket a week ago from Cape Canaveral, Fla. The first stage successfully touched down on a drone ship.

There were no astronauts aboard this six-day test flight, but there was a sensor-packed dummy "Ripley." You movie buffs will recall that was the name of a character in the "Alien" films. The success of the test flight, Demo-1, helps paves the way for a crewed mission of the SpaceX vehicle, perhaps as early as this summer.

When that happens, it will be a huge milestone. Astronauts haven't launched to orbit from American soil in an American spacecraft since NASA retired its space shuttle fleet in July 2011. NASA right now depends on Russian Soyuz rockets and spacecraft to ferry its astronauts to and from ISS. Each seat on the three-person Soyuz sells for $80 million.

In 2014 NASA signed commercial-crew contracts with SpaceX and Boeing, worth $2.6 billion and $4.2 billion, respectively, to foster the development of homegrown American spaceships. Boeing is building a capsule called CST-100.

While all this is going on, NASA is reassessing when it will be ready for Exploration Mission-1 (EM-1). Earlier in the week, Director Jody Singer of Marshall Space Flight Center in Huntsville, Ala., said NASA is reassessing the 2020 date for the first launch of Space Launch System (SLS) with an uncrewed Orion capsule.

Singer, speaking at a Space Transportation Association (STA) meeting on Capitol Hill Tuesday, said the launch readiness date for EM-1 is still in 2020, but did not give a more precise estimate of the date. Singer outlined how much has been accomplished to date. All the segments for EM-1 are ready except the core stage being built at Michoud Assembly Facility in New Orleans. She said it's "almost ready," but much testing remains.

The "Green Run" test of the core stage and four RS-25 engines at Stennis Space Center, Miss., will take place late this year or early next, she said.

Singer described SLS as :America’s rocket" because more than 1,100 companies in 44 states are involved in building it, supporting more than 32,000 jobs and producing $6 billion in economic benefit. (Post)


Military
Col. Dave Morris will turn over command of Training Air Wing Five March 14 during a change of command ceremony at Naval Air Station Whiting Field, Fla. Capt. Doug Rosa will assume command of the Navy's largest training wing and assume the title of commodore during the event.

Morris will move onto another assignment at the Pentagon. Among his other assignments, Morris was assigned to fly the Blue Angels C-130, Fat Albert, during the 2001-2003 airshow season.

In August 2017, Rosa reported to Training Air Wing Five at NAS Whiting Field and assumed the position of deputy commodore. Rosa will now be responsible for an estimated 43 percent of the Chief of Naval Air Training Command's total flight time and more than 14 percent of Navy and Marine Corps' flight time world-wide. (Post)


Education
ST Engineering during the week announced the ST Engineering Scholarship Program. Starting in 2020, four scholarships will be awarded annually to Escambia County high school students. Each recipient will receive $2,500.

The company says it’s important to get students involved in the aerospace industry sooner rather than later.

"The aerospace industry is growing. The average age of an aircraft tech right now is about 50. So, we see in order to preserve aviation going forward, there will be a great need for techs going forward," said Director of Maintenance Alvin Bass.

Students can use the scholarships towards any accredited college or tech aviation school. (Post)


Contracts – F-35
Three contracts were awarded in connection with the F-35 program. Eglin Air Force Base, Fla., is home of the F-35 integrated training center. Northrop Grumman Innovation Systems, Northridge, Calif., was awarded a $322.5 million contract to provide for the engineering and manufacturing development (EMD) of the AGM-88G, Advanced Anti-Radiation Guided Missile – Extended Range (AARGM-ER). The EMD effort includes the design, integration and test of a new solid rocket motor for the AARGM-ER for use on the F/A-18E/F, EA-18G and F-35A/C aircraft platforms. Work will be performed in Northridge (98 percent); and Ridgecrest, Calif. (2 percent), and is expected to be completed in December 2023. The Naval Air Systems Command, Patuxent River, Md., is the contracting activity. … Lockheed Martin Corp., Fort Worth, Texas, was awarded a $32.7 million modification to a delivery order previously issued against a basic ordering agreement in support of the F-35 Lightning II Joint Strike Aircraft for the Navy, Air Force; Marine Corps, non-U.S. Department of Defense (DoD) participants and Foreign Military Sales (FMS) customers. The modification provides for the procurement of modification kits and special tooling required for modification and retrofit activities for delivered air systems. Work will be performed in Fort Worth and is expected to be completed in August 2027. The Naval Air Systems Command, Patuxent River, Maryland, is the contracting activity. … Lockheed Martin Aeronautics Co., Fort Worth, Texas, was awarded a $10 million modification to a previously awarded contract. This modification increases the ceiling of the contract to procure additional production ancillary mission equipment in support of F-35 non-U.S. Department of Defense participant operational aircraft. Work will be performed in Fort Worth, Texas, and is expected to be completed in May 2023. The Naval Air Systems Command, Patuxent River, Maryland, is the contracting activity.


Contracts – other
SimVentions Inc., Fredericksburg, Va., was awarded a $12 million contract for the continued development, extension, and upgrade of the AN/SLQ-32(V)X Tactical Simulator tools and capabilities delivered in support of Navy training and integration and test efforts. Work will be performed in Fredericksburg (88 percent); Fairmont, W.V., (8 percent); and Pensacola, Fla. (4 percent), and is expected to be completed by February 2024. The Naval Surface Warfare Center, Dahlgren Division, Dahlgren, Va., is the contracting activity. … Raytheon Co., El Segundo, Calif., was awarded a $17.8 million delivery order against a five-year basic ordering agreement for aircraft radar system spare parts. Location of performance is Mississippi, with a Dec. 20, 2021, performance completion date. The contracting activity is the Defense Logistics Agency Aviation, Philadelphia, Pa.

Saturday, March 2, 2019

Week in review (2/24 to 3/2)

This past December I wrote in our daily news feed about Airbus and Lockheed joining forces to compete for any new contracts to supply aerial tankers for the U.S. Air Force. As readers know, Airbus went up against Boeing more than a decade ago to supply the planes. Airbus won the first time, but after a protest by Boeing, a new competition was held and Boeing wound up with the contract to build 179 of the KC-46 refueling tankers, based on the 767 jetliner.

But there are a lot more tankers that will be needed beyond those. The Air Force wants to replace all its tankers, more than 400. I raised the prospect in our bimonthly newsletter published in December that, should that Airbus-Lockheed partnership end up winning a contract, it’s possible the tankers could be built in Mobile, Ala., where Airbus is currently building A320 passenger jets and in the near future will be assembling A220 jetliners.

I’m not the only one thinking that way. Part of my job tracking aerospace activities in this region involves doing a lot of reading. I came across this item by Jens Flottau, a business and aviation correspondent for the Munich-based newspaper, Süddeutsche Zeitung. It’s one of the largest daily newspapers in Germany.

In a story about Airbus’ efforts in North America, Flottau wrote about the Airbus-Lockheed deal involving the A330 Multi Role Tanker Transport (MRTT). He wrote that the two are examining a broad spectrum of opportunities, including the aerial tanker. In another round of tanker competition, Airbus would supply the plane and Lockheed would use its system integration skills and lobbying clout in Washington, D.C. He quoted Airbus CEO Tom Enders as saying Lockheed would have been the preferred partner 10 years ago. Said Enders: “I don’t understand why the world’s largest air force still does not fly the world’s most capable tanker.” Flottau ends his article with this paragraph:

“It will likely take years before more clarity can be reached on a potentially massive order. But once it is there, and the Airbus-Lockheed venture prevails in part or in full, it is likely to be the Mobile site at Brookley Field that again will benefit. Airbus has ensured that there is enough land available for it to build another hangar for work on the A330. Just in case.”

Yup, just in case. We’ll keep our eyes on this one. You can see the Flottau article in the German Times.

OK, in addition to doing a lot of reading, some of my work involves going out to see and talk to folks involved in aviation activities. It can be everything from a groundbreaking to a symposium and the like. But every now and then there’s something a bit more fun.

That was the case during the week when I was among a small group of local journalists who got a look at the new TH-57 Sea Ranger helicopter simulator at Naval Air Station Whiting Field, near Milton. The one we saw was a stationary Level 6 simulator, and NAS Whiting Field will get three of those. It’s also getting seven Level 7 simulators – the full motion type.

At one point we got a chance to get in the cockpit to see up close how it works.

The simulator has two seats, and I sat in the left seat. Marine Maj. Ron Chino, rotary wing training officer for Chief of Naval Air Training, was sitting in the right seat. Because there are a variety of scenarios that can be used with the simulator, I asked if we could be on an aircraft carrier.

No problem. He explained a few things to me about the controls and the displays, then after he lifted off the deck, we flew around the carrier and came back for a landing. Neat. So I asked the major if I could try to fly it myself. No problem, he said, provided some instructions and, well, my brain was immediately overloaded. But I forged ahead.

Yes, I managed lifting off of the deck, and tried circling around – the major had to help a bit keeping us airborne since I kept losing airspeed. Not a good thing. So after we went in a half circle around the carrier, the major asked me if I wanted to try to land on the deck without any help from him. Sure, I said. Then, knowing what was going to happen anyway, I asked if I could crash the simulator. I wanted to see that red screen, I told him. No problem, he said.

OK, fess up time. I tried to crash on the deck, but ended up in the Gulf of Mexico. But the great thing about the simulator is, I didn’t get wet, nobody got hurt and we didn’t lose an expensive helicopter.

I asked Chino if the students are as overwhelmed as I was the first time they get behind the controls. But he explained what I attempted to do – fly – is not the way they are taught. They accomplish one thing at a time, like keeping it straight while it hovers, while the instructor takes care of the rest. Then they move on to the next task and so on until they’ve mastered all the individual steps to flying a helicopter.

The major said it’s not long before they feel comfortable. He told me how long that takes but I can’t remember what he said and I wasn't taking notes while I was at the controls. Chalk that up to being too overwhelmed by it all, or perhaps it was spatial disorientation.

Other than my time in the simulator, the event involved dozens of Navy and civilian officials who filled us in on the new simulators, the first new ones at the base in nearly 40 years. They will be used by some 500 Navy, Marine and Coast Guard helicopter students who go through the training each year. The one I got in was the stationary, Level 6 trainer. NAS Whiting will get three of those.

It will also get seven full-motion Level 7 machines, which have larger vertical and horizontal wrap around screens, providing a larger field of view. The simulators can mimic any time of day and give students challenging weather and air traffic situations. Also included in the upgrade will be a central control station that will provide the capability to link all 10 simulators together in a single virtual environment.

The simulators were provided by contractors Flight Safety Systems International of Denver, Frasca International of Urbana, Ill., and Aechelon Technology of San Francisco. The old simulators have been use since the Cold War era and have been modified over time to make them more capable. But they reached their limit of adaptability and will be replaced over the next year by the new simulators. (Post)

We'll have more about this in the April issue of the newsletter.


Commercial aviation
Shareholders of Brazil’s Embraer have approved a deal to sell 80 percent of the company’s commercial plane division to Boeing Co. The deal will allow Boeing to compete with Airbus in the market for jets with up to 150 seats. The transaction must now be approved by antitrust regulators.

Under the terms of the deal finalized in December, Boeing will pay $4.2 billion to control Embraer’s most profitable division, supplying passenger jets to airlines. Boeing will acquire 80 percent of "all aspects" of Embraer's commercial aircraft division, including aircraft design, manufacturing, certification, services and sales work related to ERJs, E-Jets and E-Jet E2 family aircraft.

Once the transaction receives full regulatory approval, Boeing and Embraer will be joint owners of a yet-to-be-named commercial jet company. Shareholders also approved a joint venture between the two planemakers to market Embraer’s new KC-390 military cargo jet. Embraer will own a 51 percent stake and Boeing 49 percent.

Boeing and Embraer announced in December 2018 that they had approved the terms for the joint ventures and the Brazilian government gave its approval in January 2019. Embraer's board of directors ratified its support for the deal and definitive transaction documents were signed. Boeing and Embraer hope to close the deal by the end of 2019.

Boeing rival Airbus last year bought a controlling stake in Bombardier Inc’s CSeries jets, which also have less than 150 seats. Renamed the A220, the jet is built in Mirabel, Canada, but a second final assembly line is currently being built in Mobile, Ala.. (Post)


Airports
Speaking of air travel, tickets are now on sale to fly from Gulfport-Biloxi International Airport in Mississippi to two new destinations: Austin, Texas, and Ft. Myers, Fla. The announcement of new flights aboard Sun Country Airlines was made at the airport early in the week.

The nonstop flights are as low as $59 one-way and will run Fridays and Mondays from July through December to Austin-Bergstrom International Airport and Southwest Florida International Airport.

The airport has a $299 annual economic impact, said Clay Williams, executive irector of the airport, and ridership was up 11 percent last year and cargo up 16 percent. (Post)


Space
NASA tested an RS-25 engine late in the week at its highest power level for an extended period of time. The 500-second test was conducted on the A-1 Test Stand. For the fourth time, NASA powered the engine to 113 percent of its original thrust design, this time for more than 430 seconds, about four times longer than any previous hot fire at that thrust level.

The hot fire concluded a series of nine tests that began last August, using RS-25 developmental engine No. 0525. As with previous tests in the series, the Feb. 28 hot fire featured an RS-25 flight engine controller that will be used on a Space Launch System mission. The controller is the "brain" and a key component of engine modifications made to help power SLS, being built as the world’s most-powerful rocket to carry humans deeper into space than ever.

The RS-25, originally used in the Space Shuttle, is being modified for SLS. Four RS-25s will provide 2 million pounds of thrust during SLS's launch and ascent. (Post)

-- In other space news, there was a successful launch at 2:49 a.m. EST Saturday at Cape Canaveral, Fla., of a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket carrying a Crew Dragon spacecraft. The capsule is going to the International Space Station with a dummy on board. The first stage of Falcon 9 touched down on SpaceX’s drone ship.

The test is a significant step towards allowing SpaceX vehicles to be used to launch astronauts in space. U.S. astronauts have not launched from the United States in a U.S. space vehicle since the Space Shuttle was retired in 2011. (Story)

SpaceX is developing its next generation rocket engine at Stennis Space Center, Miss.


Cybersecurity
The Department of Homeland Security will embark on a 10-year cloud computing initiative to modernize its technology infrastructure and improve its cybersecurity posture, according to a Feb. 19 announcement.

The program calls for modernizing Data Center 1 (DC 1) at NASA's Stennis Space Center, Miss., and retiring by June 2020 DC 2 in Virginia, migrating a majority of its IT systems and data to the cloud.

The program could be worth a combined $1 billion to $2 billion for multiple cloud vendors over the next 10 years, according to a Bloomberg Government analysis.

The scope of DHS's program resembles the Defense Department’s Joint Enterprise Defense Infrastructure (JEDI) cloud program, but with a different approach. Where JEDI will be a centralized cloud that provides the bulk of the Pentagon’s infrastructure-as-a-service needs, DHS’s will rely on multiple vendors and hybrid systems capable of running in both on-premise and cloud environments.

Responses to the Request for Information are due March 20, 2019.

CSC Government Solutions (spun off from CSC into CSRA, which was acquired by General Dynamics IT) has operated the DC 1 at the National Center for Critical Information Processing and Storage at Stennis Space Center since July 2008. The site itself is government-owned and is 63,000 square feet of raised floor space. The complex consists of three large attached buildings.

While DHS is now trying to move to the cloud, DC 1 and DC 2 are the result of a previous consolidation that saw the IT infrastructure of the agencies under its purview limited to just two sites. (Post)


Contracts – F-35
There were two contracts awarded during the week in connection with the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter. Eglin Air Force Base, Fla., is home of the F-35 integrated training center. Lockheed Martin Corp., Lockheed Martin Aeronautics Co., Fort Worth, Texas, was awarded $108.7 million for a delivery order against a previously issued basic ordering agreement. This order provides for program management, nonrecurring engineering, recurring engineering, site support and touch labor in support of modification and retrofit activities for delivered Air Systems for the F-35 Lightning II Joint Strike Fighter aircraft for the Air Force, Marine Corps, Navy, non-Department of Defense (DoD) Participant and Foreign Military Sales (FMS) customers. The Naval Air Systems Command, Patuxent River, Md., is the contracting activity. … Lockheed Martin Corp., Fort Worth, Texas, also was awarded $30.8 million for a modification to a previously awarded contract to provide for initial lay-in of repair material for ten F-35 Lightning II systems at various depots in support of the Air Force, Marine Corps; Navy; non-U.S. Department of Defense (DoD) participants, and Foreign Military Sales (FMS) customers. The Naval Air Systems Command, Patuxent River, Md., is the contracting activity.


Contracts - other
Tyonek Global Services LLC, Anchorage, Alaska, was awarded a $7.2 million contract for Cyber Operations Formal Training Support (CyOFTS) II. This contract provides for essential capabilities to support the Cyber Operations field training unit in course planning, administrative support, technical writing, course development, project management, instructor training, student mission training systems administration, network systems administration, training range engineering maintenance, computer help desk support, and hardware/infrastructure maintenance. Work will be performed at Hurlburt Field, Fla.; and Joint Base San Antonio, Texas, and is expected to be complete by February 2020. The 38th Contracting Squadron, Tinker Air Force Base, Okla., is the contracting activity. … Unisys Corp., Reston, Va., was awarded a $76.3 million Other Transaction Agreement to execute the Enterprise IT as a service end user services risk reduction effort experiment. Work will be performed at Buckley Air Force Base (AFB), Colo., Maxwell AFB, Ala.; Spangdahlem Air Base, Germany; Offutt AFB, Neb.; Joint Base Elemendorf-Richardson, Alaska; Cannon AFB, N.M.; Hurlburt Field, Fla.; and Pope Field, N.C., with possible scaling of up to 20 bases during the experiment. Work is expected to be complete by February 2022. Air Force Life Cycle Management Center, Hanscom AFB, Mass., is the contracting activity. … L3 Communications Vertex Aerospace LLC, Madison, Miss., was awarded $21.4 million for a modification to a previously awarded contract. This modification exercises an option for organizational, intermediate, and depot level maintenance, logistics, and engineering support for Navy T-45 aircraft, aircraft systems, and related support equipment. Work will be performed at the Naval Air Station (NAS) Kingsville, Texas (55.5 percent); NAS Meridian, Miss. (41.3 percent); and NAS Pensacola, Fla. (3.2 percent), and is expected to be completed in September 2019. The Naval Air Warfare Training Systems Division, Orlando, Fla., is the contracting activity. … Micro Systems Inc., Fort Walton Beach, Fla., was awarded a $23 million contract for production, repairs services and associated ancillary equipment for the systems for Naval Target Control Block II and III in support of Navy aerial targets. Work will be performed in Fort Walton Beach and is expected to be completed in February 2024. The Naval Air Systems Command, Patuxent River, Md, is the contracting activity.

Saturday, February 23, 2019

Week in review (2/17 to 2/23)

A group of Pensacola residents formed a committee that will try to force a city-wide referendum on the agreement to pay $5 million of city sales tax money to fund the $210 million ST Engineering expansion project at the Pensacola International Airport.

Citizens Against Corporate Welfare is invoking provision of the city charter that allows citizens to challenge a vote of the City Council with a city-wide voter referendum if 10 percent of registered city voters agree. The Pensacola City Council voted 4-3 earlier this month to approve an agreement with Escambia County to increase the city's funding for the project from $10 million to $15 million.

The project will expand ST Engineering's aircraft, maintenance and overhaul campus from one to four hangars and bring in 1,325 jobs on top of the 400 promised for the hangar that opened in 2018. Citizens Against Corporate Welfare will have to collect 4,005 verified signatures by mid-April to force a referendum. (Post)

I saw one of the members of the group on television the other day, saying that "bribing foreign-owned companies and providing them corporate welfare to compete with American companies is just unconscionable to me."

Well, thank you for defending large U.S. companies, none of which is proposing establishing an MRO in Pensacola. Surely this gentleman must know the foreign companies he's so concerned about have U.S. operations and hire U.S. workers - just like our companies have operations overseas and hire their workers.

Perhaps he has been out of the loop and doesn't understand that incentives are offered to companies, foreign and domestic, all over the country. Like it or not, right or wrong, the incentives are part of the economic development game.

I can just imagine, if this gentleman had been a resident of Mobile, Ala., what he would have thought about the incentives that were provided to bring an Airbus A320 assembly line to Mobile – or the more recent incentives to bring in a second assembly line to build A220 jetliners.

No doubt he would also have objected to the incentives that lured Mercedes to Alabama, the first in a series of automakers and supply manufactures that eventually made Alabama their home.

So for anyone approached to sign this petition, do so if you want. But I urge you to look at the long game.

By the way, Mississippi in the 1930s was the first state to make it official policy to get the public sector behind efforts to attract industry. The state created the Balancing Agriculture with Industries program, and it was controversial because it was considered socialist. Incentives had been offered on the local level for years, but BAWI gave the activity a state's blessing. It was BAWI that helped lure Ingalls Shipbuilding to Pascagoula, which remains the largest employer in the state. BAWI served as a model for other parts of the South, then over time the rest of the nation.

So there you have it.


Space
A spaceport along the Interstate 10 corridor? Well that's what the Hancock County Port and Harbor Commission (HCPHC) hopes to establish at Stennis International Airport (HSA) in Kiln.

It has decided to go ahead and seek a spaceport license. HCPHC commissioned RS&H Inc., which previously did a feasibility study, to complete an application for HSA to obtain a Launch Site Operator License.

The license application will be filed with the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) Office of Commercial Space Transportation. If approved, it would enable horizontally launched reusable launch vehicles to operate out of HSA. The FAA has developed regulations that enable airports to host operations of reusable launch vehicles that take off and land like aircraft.

Several kinds of such vehicles are currently under development. The license application will establish regions over the Gulf of Mexico where the launches could be conducted safely and ensure the Airport has the infrastructure required to support those launch operations. (Post)


Military
Money programmed for two construction projects planned for Eglin Air Force Base could be steered to construction of a U.S.-Mexico border wall under terms of President Donald Trump's declaration of a national emergency.

U.S. Rep. Matt Gaetz, R-Fla., confirmed that a proposed $34.9 million outlay for an F-35A training center and a proposed $28 million outlay for an F-35A student dormitory are part of the $3.6 billion in military construction funding that Trump could tap for the wall.

In all, Florida bases could lose up to $177 million for planned construction, according to a list compiled by the House Appropriations Committee. (Post)

-- Brig. Gen. David J. Francis, director, Army Aviation, Office of the Deputy Chief of Staff, at the U.S. Army in Washington, D.C., will become the new commanding general of the U.S. Army Aviation Center of Excellence and Fort Rucker, Ala.

Maj. Gen. William K. Gayler, current commanding general of the U.S. Army Aviation Center of Excellence and Fort Rucker, was nominated as director, J-3 Operations/Cyber, U.S. Africa Command in Germany. (Post)


Airports
New Orleans airport passenger traffic hit a new high in 2018. More than 13.1 million travelers flew in and out of Louis Armstrong New Orleans International Airport last year, up 9.3 percent from 2017. It marks a fourth consecutive year of passenger growth at the airport.

Meanwhile, a new $1 billion terminal, currently under construction on the north side of the airport property, is set to open May 15. It will have fewer overall gates than the existing terminal, but several gates at the aging facility have been closed for years. (Post)


Newsletter
The February 2019 Gulf Coast Reporters League/Gulf Coast Aerospace Corridor Newsletter is available for download.

It includes a stories about the groundbreaking for the A220 final assembly line in Mobile, Ala., and the Navy's official opening of Site X in Jay, Fla.. There's also a summary of key stories that occurred since the last newsletter, including additional funding for Pensacola's maintenance, repair and overhaul project. (Post)


Contract
Tapestry Solutions Inc., a Boeing Co., San Diego, Calif., was awarded a $259 million contract for Weapon Planning Software (WPS). This contract provides for the development, enhancement, and support of the WPS suite, which is a common component within the Joint Mission Planning System architecture. Work will be performed predominately in St. Louis, Mo.; and Niceville, Fla. Work is expected to be complete by February 2029. Air Force Life Cycle Management Center, Eglin Air Force Base, Fla., is the contracting activity.