Saturday, June 18, 2011

Week in review (6/12 to 6/18)

The International Paris Air Show gets under way Monday at Le Bourget Airport, and economic development officials from across the Gulf Coast will be attending. The show in 2009 attracted 140,000 professional visitors and 200,000 visitors from the general public.

There are teams from Northwest Florida, Alabama and South Mississippi attending. They go to the show because companies from across the globe go to the event, and economic development officials can meet with a lot of companies in a very compressed time.

The show is the oldest and largest air show. It's held every other year at Le Bourget Airport and is designed to let aerospace companies show their products to military and commercial buyers.

This year's show is June 20-23 for professional visitors, and from June 24-26 for the general public. In 2009 the show attracted 2,000 exhibitors from 50 countries and 3,000 journalists from around the world.

If you're interested in learning more about the aerospace activities in the Gulf Coast region, you might want to download a free PDF version of the 88-page Gulf Coast Aerospace Corridor 2011-2012. You can also buy a printed version if you’re so inclined, at cost from a print-on-demand service,

There's also a book available that focuses on the Mississippi Gulf Coast’s aerospace activities. The 52-page, sixth annual edition of Mississippi Gulf Coast Aerospace 2011-2012 can be downloaded for free, or you can also purchase at-cost a printed version from the same print-on-demand service.

NASA's new J-2X rocket engine, which could power the upper stage of a future heavy-lift launch vehicle, is ready for its first round of testing at NASA’s Stennis Space Center, Miss.

The fully assembled engine was installed last weekend in the A-2 Test Stand, originally used to test Saturn V rockets for the Apollo Program. The engine will undergo a series of 10 test firings that will last several months.

The test stand, which supported the space shuttle main engine project, has been modified for the J-2X's different shape. In addition to the structural, electrical and plumbing modifications, a new engine start system was installed and control systems were upgraded on the stand. The liquid oxygen and liquid hydrogen transfer lines that dated back to the 1960s were replaced. Pratt & Whitney Rocketdyne designed and built the J-2X for NASA.

Nearly a month after the unsafe performance of a maneuver led to the grounding of the Navy’s Blue Angels and a change in command, the team performs again this weekend at the Quad-City Air Show in Davenport, Iowa.

The grounding was prompted by a maneuver where the F/A 18 Hornets passed too close to the ground. The team is now under the command of Capt. Greg McWherter, who commanded the group from November 2008 to November 2010. The team is based at Naval Air Station Pensacola, Fla.

- The Air Force Research Laboratory's Munitions Directorate at Eglin Air Force Base, Fla., will have a change of command ceremony Monday afternoon at the Air Armament Museum.

Col. Kenneth L. Echternacht, Jr., will relinquish his position as commander, AFRL, to Dr. John Wilcox. Maj. Gen.William McCasland, Commander, Air Force Research Laboratory at Wright-Patterson AFB, Ohio, will officiate. AFRL Munitions Directorate performs research on precision guidance, missile guidance and control, computational mechanics, smart sub-munitions, warheads, and explosives.

- Northwest Florida Regional Airport reported a record-setting May passenger count. The total number of commercial passengers topped 111,550, far exceeding any previous monthly traffic level, according to airport Director Greg Donovan. The increase, 57.2 percent over May 2010, was due largely to the new air service by Vision Airlines, Donovan noted. The airport is located at Eglin Air Force Base, Fla.

A satellite office for Capital Avionics will open at Bob Sikes Airport in Crestview, Fla., during the week. It’s the first step in moving the entire business to Okaloosa County from Tallahassee. Capital Avionics employs 15 people, but Larry Sassano, president of the Economic Development Council of Okaloosa County, said it is an important one for the area. Capital Avionics creates custom-designed testing equipment for companies in the aviation field, and the company already has clients in Okaloosa County.

Owner Al Ingle said he expects to hire four employees for the Okaloosa County branch. He then plans to build a new 15,500-square-foot hangar and 12,000-square-foot component repair and equipment testing facility at Bob Sikes and move the remaining Capital Avionics employees once that is completed.

The Gulf Coast Hot Air Balloon Festival is underway this weekend in Foley, Ala. It’s the event’s seventh year. The festival is held at the Foley Soccer Field on U.S. 98, and includes arts and crafts vendors, food tents, music and other attractions. The festival attracts about 60,000 visitors a year, according to organizers. Counts for the 2011 celebration were not available.

BAE Systems Technology Solutions and Services Inc., Rockville, Md., was awarded a $33.3 million modification to a previously awarded cost-plus-fixed-fee contract to exercise an option for engineering and technical services and supplies for the design, development, integration, test and evaluation, maintenance and logistics support of communication-electronic platform, equipment, systems and subsystems in support of the Naval Air Warfare Center Aircraft Division's Special Communications Requirements Division. Two percent of the work will be done in Fort Walton Beach, Fla. … EADS North American Defense, Arlington, Va., was awarded a $74.4 million firm-fixed-price contract to provide 14 light utility helicopters and 14 airborne radio communication systems. Work will be performed in Columbus, Miss., with an estimated completion date of Aug. 31, 2012. … Lockheed Martin Corp., Lockheed Martin Missiles and Fire Control, Orlando, Fla., was awarded a not-to-exceed $100,000,000 indefinite-delivery/indefinite-quantity contract to provide technical support for the Joint Air-to-Surface Standoff Missile. Air Armament Center/EBJK, Eglin Air Force Base, Fla., is the contracting activity.