More political maneuvering surrounding the Air Force aerial tanker issue, a milestone for a rocket engine that will be tested at Stennis Space Center, a lost service at one airport, and a decision of an aircraft manufacturer to stay put rather than move to Louisiana highlighted the aerospace activity for the Gulf Coast during the week.
The Senate Armed Services Committee will hold hearings next month on the release of proprietary data in the $40 billion aerial tanker contest. The Air Force mistakenly sent material intended for Boeing to EADS North America and material for EADS to Boeing. Sen. Carl Levin also plans to hold hearings Feb. 1 to review the procurement process.
- An 11th hour insertion of a provision that would force the Air Force to consider subsidies probably won't remain when the bill goes to the Senate. But it caused a clash between Boeing and EADS backers. Boeing backers want it to improve the chances for the company in the competition to build tankers for the Air Force. EADS backers say it's an underhanded attempt to tilt the contest. EADS plans to assemble the tankers in Mobile, Ala., if the company wins.
Pratt and Whitney Rocketdyne completed another major subassembly for NASA's first J-2X rocket engine. The turbopump assembly follows the successful assembly of the oxidizer turbopump, which delivers high-pressure liquid oxygen to the main injector. The engine's first hot-fire tests are planned for early 2011 at Stennis Space Center, Miss. Pratt and Whitney Rocketdyne is headquartered in Canoga Park, Calif., and has facilities in Huntsville, Ala., Kennedy Space Center, Fla., West Palm Beach, Fla., and Stennis Space
AirTran next year will stop serving Mississippi's Gulfport-Biloxi International Airport, the company announced. The service ends March 6, according to an AirTran spokesman. The airline offers flights from Gulfport to Atlanta and Tampa three times a week. The director of air service and business development at the airport said there are a couple of prospects looking to step in and fill the void.
- Rolls-Royce was awarded an $89 million contract by the Naval Air Systems Command at Patuxent River, Md., to provide support for the F405 engines that power the Navy's T-45 training aircraft. The contract provides services to more than 200 aircraft operating at Naval Air Station Kingsville, Texas, Naval Air Station Meridian, Miss., Naval Air Station Pensacola, Fla., and Naval Air Station Patuxent River.
Hawker Beechcraft will be remaining in Kansas rather than moving to Louisiana after accepting a $45 million incentives package from the state, city and county. The deal requires Hawker to maintain its current product lines, which includes propeller planes and jets, along with 4,000 jobs in Wichita over the next 10 years.
- A company that hopes to maintain C-130 military aircraft plans to hire 50 people at South Alabama Regional Airport near Andalusia, Ala. Support Systems Associates Inc. of Melbourne, Fla., announced this month the opening of Support Systems Andalusia Alabama. The company also has an operation in Mary Esther, Fla.
Universal Technology Corp., Dayton, Ohio, was awarded a $9.9 million contract to provide research and development of on-site support in the Airbase Sciences Branch at Tyndall Air Force Base, Fla. 325 Contracting Squadron, Tyndall Air Force Base, is the contracting activity.