Saturday, October 6, 2012

Week in review (9/30 to 10/6)

When someone told me they read that the Interstate 10 aerospace corridor is the fourth largest in the world, I told them that's not true. It's big, but not that big. When they said it came from a book I co-authored, I knew I had to track it down.

The book, Gulf Coast Aerospace Corridor 2012-2013, makes no such claim. But now I see what happened. A reporter got information from the Aerospace Alliance, a four-state group that includes all of Alabama, Florida, Louisiana and Mississippi. The Aerospace Alliance, is, in fact, an underwriter for the book, but had no involvement in its creation.

But it does involve itself in information for the four-state region, and provided some of that to the reporter. The reporter assumed those stats were for the I-10 corridor – the slice of the four states between New Orleans and Panama City covered by the book. In fact, they were for the combined force of four-state region, which includes aerospace powerhouses like Huntsville-Decatur and Florida’s Space Coast.

Those statistics are impressive. According to the Aerospace Alliance, direct aerospace and defense employment in 2010 for the four states was 102,674. The only two regions with more are California (162,162) and Toulouse, France (120,000). For aerospace and defense total revenue, again 2010, the four states of the Aerospace Alliance had a combined $31.8 billion. California had $52.3 billion and Washington $32.8 billion.

So yes, we have a lot of aerospace activity in the Gulf Coast region, from space activities at Michoud Assembly Facility in New Orleans to weapons development in Northwest Florida. And the region will get a big boost when Airbus starts building its A320 in Mobile. But don't confuse this aerospace cluster with the broader four-state region. We're a part, not the whole thing.

By the way, if you want to download a free copy of the book, click here.

OK, now for your week in review:

All the indicators continue to point to a robust commercial airline market. The latest indicator was released Boeing during the week at the International Air Cargo Forum and Exhibition 2012 in Atlanta.

The biennial Boeing World Are Cargo Forecast 2012/2013 said the global air cargo market will expand at a 5.2 percent annual rate over the next 20 years. The report said growth will be driven by world gross domestic product that will nearly double over the forecast period.

Boeing forecasts the world freighter fleet will increase to 3,198 airplanes from 1,738 by 2031. Large freighters will represent 36 percent of the fleet, compared to 31 percent today. Markets connecting Asia-Pacific will lead the industry in growth. Boeing competitor Airbus plans to assemble A320 aircraft in Mobile, Ala. (Post)

-- The proposed $45 billion merger of Airbus parent EADS and BAE Systems is being closely watched by the aerospace industry. The deadline to make a decision is Oct. 10, and talks involving the companies and governments are continuing.

France and Germany are at odds over the location of the headquarters for the new  aerospace giant. France wants the headquarters in Toulouse, its southwestern  aerospace capital where the Airbus subsidiary of EADS is based. Germany wants it near Munich. It’s just another hurdle to overcome. (Post)

Both companies are major players in the Gulf Coast Interstate 10 region.

-- OK, this is kind of an Airbus-related story. Beginning April 9 of next year, United Airlines will add one daily round-trip flight between Mobile, Ala., and Chicago's O'Hare International Airport, providing direct connectivity to 139 domestic and international markets. In addition, the new United Express flight will use the 50-seat Embracer Regional Jet.

Bill Sisson, executive director of the Mobile Airport Authority, said the new flight is a clear example of air service development following economic development, like Airbus’ decision to build an assembly line in Mobile. (Post)

Tyndall Air Force Base, Fla., is now part of Air Combat Command. The ceremony that folded the 325th Fighter Wing into the Air Combat Command (ACC) became official Monday.

The new F-22 fighter squadron will slowly be arriving at Tyndall beginning in January. The pilot training mission at Tyndall will remain, but there will be about 800-1,000 new people coming to work at Tyndall as the new F-22 squadron is put in place. (Post)

As part of the change, the 33rd Fighter Wing at Eglin Air Force Base, Fla., took command of Tyndall’s 337th Air Control Squadron, formerly the 325th Air Control Squadron. Because the 337th ACS remains a training center it needed to be under a training wing at Eglin, but will continuing to operate at Tyndall. (Post)

-- Tyndall Air Force Base's 43rd Fighter Squadron set a new flying record Sept. 24, accomplishing 53 local sorties in one day. The previous record was 24 sorties. With several instructor pilots in danger of becoming noncurrent due to delays and cancellations throughout the year, the 43rd's increased sortie efforts served to ensure instructor pilots' currency and proficiency were met before the end of the fiscal year in October. (Post)

After a long history with the 1st Special Operations Wing at Hurlburt Field, the 6th Special Operations Squadron made the transition to the 919th Special Operations Wing at Duke Field, Fla.

The squadron is getting a new fleet of C-145A Skytrucks, a light cargo and passenger aircraft, instead of moving its assortment of rotary wing and turboprops. The 6th SOS is a combat aviation advisory unit whose mission is to assess, train, advise and assist foreign aviation forces in airpower employment, sustainment and force integration. (Post)

One of those aircraft type left behind was the UH-1 Huey. The final flight of a Huey at Hurlburt Field took place last month over Northwest Florida and South Alabama. The Huey has been the most popular light utility helicopter ever produced, with some variant being operated by the military in nearly 60 nations. (Post)

-- Meanwhile, the 1st Special Operations Wing at Hurlburt Field welcomed a new wing vice commander Oct. 1. He’s Col. William Holt. His previous assignments include commander of the combined joint special operations air component. He’s also a former commander of the 319th Special Operations Squadron at Hurlburt Field. (Post)

Unmanned aircraft may be flying over your head sooner than you think.

In Grand Forks, N.D., a team of government, a not-for-profit research and development organization and academia completed two weeks of flight testing "sense and avoid" technology that could help unmanned aircraft integrate into the national air space.

The MITRE Corp. and the University of North Dakota developed automatic sense and avoid computer software algorithms that were uploaded onto a NASA Langley Research Center Cirrus SR-22. The NASA aircraft demonstrated how technology onboard allowed it to sense and avoid another aircraft, in this case a UND Cessna 172 "intruder" plane, flown by a university instructor pilot.

The Cirrus, developed to mimic unmanned aircraft systems, had a safety pilot in the cockpit, but researchers say computer programs developed by MITRE and UND automatically maneuvered the aircraft to avoid conflicts.

More than 100 leaders from academia, industry, government, the military and the general aviation community came to observe the demonstration. The Gulf Coast region is heavily involved in work on unmanned systems. (Post)

Lockheed Martin Corp., Orlando, Fla., was awarded $16.6 million modification to a cost plus fixed fee contract issued under the joint DARPA/ONR Long Range Anti-Ship Missile (LRASM) demonstration program. Most of the work will be done in Orlando, Fla., but Crestview, Fla., will perform 1.4 percent of the work. … L3 Communications Vertex Aerospace LLC, Madison, Miss., was awarded a $12.1 million contract modification for trainer maintenance services. Some of the work will be done at Naval Air Station Pensacola, Fla. … CC Distributors, Corpus Christi, Texas, was awarded a $9 million fixed price with material reimbursable contract for a simplified method for authorized civil engineer personnel and self-help customers to purchase materials, equipment and supplies. The location of the performance is Eglin Air Force Base, Fla. The contracting activity is AFTC PZI/PZIOA, Eglin.

Dump scow: BAE Systems in Mobile started construction on the first of two dump scows for Great Lakes Dredge & Dock Co. The first piece of steel for the ship was run through a robotic cutting machine. Delivery is scheduled for April 2013.

JHSV: Austal USA successfully completed the launch process of the second joint high-speed vessel, the USNS Choctaw County. JHSVs are 338 feet long and will be used to move troops, weapons and cargo.

Contract: Huntington Ingalls Inc., Pascagoula, Miss., was awarded an $11.6 million modification to previously awarded contract to exercise an option for fiscal year 2013 class services in support of class product fabrication, delivery, engineering, and engineering support of the DDG 1000 Zumwalt class destroyer. Work will be performed in Pascagoula and Gulfport, Miss.

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