Saturday, September 1, 2012

Week in review (8/26 to 9/1)

Last week was dominated by Tropical Storm/Hurricane Isaac's unwelcome visit to the Gulf of Mexico and landfall in Louisiana. On the aerospace front, the storm prompted military bases in the region to send aircraft to other bases, and it also disrupted passenger service at the region’s airports. But by the end of the week those operations by and large had returned to normal.

None of the F-35 Joint Strike Fighters at Eglin Air Force Base, Fla., had to be sent away. They are all housed in hangars that can withstand a Category 4 hurricane, according to a story in the Air Force Times.

Speaking of the F-35, Defense Professionals News, or “defpro,” had a story during the week about Col. Arthur Tomassetti, vice commander of Eglin's 33rd Fighter Wing, Air Education and Training Command.

The story points out that Tomassetti, with more than 3,200 flight hours on 35 different aircraft, has been a part of the Joint Strike Fighter program since its inception, and knows a lot about the industry's effort to create a plane that could perform short takeoffs and vertical landings while still being able to fly at speeds and be missile-capable.

"Whatever you want to believe about the F-35 today, we finally built the STOVL airplane we've been trying to build for 60 years," he said. It's a story about both Tomassetti and the F-35 program, and a good read to boot. (Post)

With Mobile, Ala., set to become the home of an A320 assembly line, anything involving that aircraft is of interest. A few items moved during the week involving that popular aircraft.

The 100th A320 came off China's Tianjin final assembly line Friday. Dignitaries from China and Europe were there for the event. That assembly line is the third one for the A320, the first one outside Europe. The others are in Toulouse, France, and Hamburg, Germany. Airbus announced the Mobile line in July.

The day before that plane rolled off the line, a new agreement was signed by Airbus and its Chinese partners, the Tianjin Free Trade Zone and AVIC (Aviation Industry Corp. of China) to continue the joint agreement for the plant beyond the business plan that expires in 2016. (Post) By the way, AVIC is the company that bought Teledyne Continental in Mobile, Ala. Previous

Airbus also sold more planes to China. ICBC Financial Leasing Co. of China signed an agreement with Airbus to buy 30 A320ceo and 20 A320neo aircraft. The deal is worth some $4 billion. An ICBC official said the planes were ordered in anticipation of increasing demand of the aviation markets in China, Asia Pacific region and the world. (Post)

In addition, Philippine Airlines placed a firm order with Airbus for 34 A321ceo, 10 A321neo and 10 A330-300s. The aircraft are being bought under a fleet modernization program, with deliveries starting in 2013. (Post)

To date, over 8,500 A320 family aircraft have been ordered and more than 5,200 delivered to 365 customers and operators worldwide, according to Airbus.

NASA during the week completed another test of the Orion spacecraft parachutes at the Yuma Army Proving Ground in Arizona. The test was to examine the maximum pressure that Orion's parachutes might face when returning to Earth. A C-130 dropped a dart-shaped test vehicle with a simulated Orion parachute compartment from 25,000 feet.

Orion will be launched in 2017 by NASA's Space Launch System. Stennis Space Center, Miss., will test the engines for SLS, and Michoud Assembly Facility in New Orleans is building the Orion and will build the core stage of SLS. (Post)

Crew failure caused the CV-22 Osprey crash near Navarre that injured five airmen in June, according to an Air Force investigation. The Osprey, assigned to the 1st Special Operations Wing at Hurlburt Field, Fla., was flying in formation when it failed to keep clear of the leading aircraft's wake. It went into a roll, crashed and burned. (Post)

DTS Aviation Services Inc. was awarded an $8 million contract modification for aircraft maintenance at Columbus Air Force Base, Miss. Work is to be completed by Nov. 30, 2012. The contracting activity is 14 CON/LGC, Columbus Air Force Base. … B.L. Harbert International LLC, Birmingham, Ala., was awarded an $8.9 million contract for construction of a Troop Medical Clinic at Eglin Air Force Base, Fla. Estimated completion date is Aug. 29, 2014. The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, Mobile, Ala., is the contracting activity. … Lockheed Martin Corp., Ft. Worth, Texas, was awarded a $206.8 million modification to a previously awarded contract that provides for the System Development and Demonstration Phase I Increment 1, in support of F-35A Conventional Take Off and Landing (CTOL) Air System for the Government of Israel under the Foreign Military Sales Program. … EADS-NA, Herndon, Va., was awarded a $33.5 million modification of an existing contract to procure Security and Support Mission Equipment Packages for the UH-72A Weapon System. Work will be performed in Columbus, Miss., with an estimated completion date of Aug. 31, 2014.

JHSV: Austal USA's USNS Spearhead completed Navy acceptance trials in the Gulf of Mexico last month. The Joint High Speed Vessel built in Mobile, Ala., demonstrated the catamaran's propulsion plant, ship handling and auxiliary systems. (Post)

LPD: The amphibious transport dock Arlington, LPD 24, built by Ingalls Shipbuilding, returned to Pascagoula, Miss., from builder's sea trials in the Gulf of Mexico. More than 200 test events took place during the trials, including anchor handling, flight operations, ballasting and de-ballasting the well deck, and compartment air balancing. (Post)

Hurricane: The Ingalls Shipbuilding facilities in Pascagoula and Gulfport, Miss., and Avondale, La., are closed until Sept. 4 so damages from Hurricane Isaac can be assessed. (Post)

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