The successful test of an AJ-26 engine; a fuel line failure in an F-35B; completion of a weapon fit check for the F-35; the test of an airborne router; kudos for the Mobile Airbus project; new air service at one airport and concerns over a passenger decline at another; and a planned museum exhibit honoring women were among aerospace stories of interest to the Gulf Coast region during the week.
Here's the week in review:
Aerojet's AJ26 engine completed a hot fire test late last week at NASA's Stennis Space Center (SSC) in south Mississippi. Orbital Sciences Corp., Aerojet and NASA monitored the full-duration test in support of the Antares rocket program.
It was the eleventh AJ26 engine to be tested at SSC, NASA's primary rocket engine testing facility. After the test data is reviewed, the AJ26 will be configured for flight and shipped to NASA's Wallops Flight Facility.
At Wallops the engine will be fitted to Orbital's Antares rocket and will provide the boost for the first stage. Aerojet is a GenCorp company. Last year the company purchased Rocketdyne from United Technologies. (Post)
Failure in a fuel line that caused an aborted takeoff at Eglin Air Force Base, Fla., resulted in the grounding of the F-35B, the Marine Corps variant of the fifth-generation fighter. Flights were suspended pending completion of an engineering investigation.
The fueldraulic line failure occurred in the aircraft designated BK-1, the operational test and evaluation F-35 owned by the UK. The initial inspection after the aborted takeoff discovered a detached fueldraulic line in the aft portion of the engine compartment. The line is part of the fuel-based hydraulic system that controls the actuators of the F-35B's vectoring exhaust system.
Pratt and Whitney makes the F135 turbofan engine that powers to F-35, and Rolls-Royce provides the swivel module, a pipe that redirects the rear thrust from the horizontal to the vertical direction, as part of its integrated lift system. The Stratoflex division of Parker Aerospace supplies the fueldraulic line, according to Aviation International News.
Eglin is home of the F-35 training center. The grounding does not affect the Air Force and Navy variants. (Post)
-- The Air Force and Raytheon successfully completed a fit check of the GBU-53/B Small Diameter Bomb II on the F-35. Four SDB II shapes were loaded into an F-35 weapon bay alongside an Advanced Medium Range Air-to-Air Missile. Sweeps of the inboard and outboard bay doors verified there was adequate clearance between the two weapons. SDB II can hit targets from a range of greater than 40 nautical miles. (Post)
The Mobile Area Chamber of Commerce's efforts in landing the $600 million Airbus A320 assembly facility was named one of four honorable mentions in Business Facilities' 2012 Economic Development Deal of the Year competition.
"Mobile's selection as the only site in the Western Hemisphere assembling aircraft for Airbus cements Alabama's status as an up-and-coming aerospace manufacturing giant," said Business Facilities Editor in Chief Jack Rogers.
The plant is expected to eventually employ 1,000 people. A ceremonial groundbreaking will be held in April. Airbus’ decision to build in Mobile has already led to the decision of Safran Group to build an engineering facility in Mobile. (Post)
Tests were completed at Eglin Air Force Base, Fla., this month on a flying wireless router, not unlike the routers found in homes – but this one is attached to a 30mm Gatling gun. The flying router is a software upgrade called Net-T or network tactical for the LITENING and Sniper advanced targeting pods for all legacy fighters and the B-1.
The 40th Flight Test Squadron tested the software's capability, beginning in October, to allow groups of ground forces to communicate with each other via Remotely Operated Video Enhanced Receiver-5, an arm-mounted touchscreen device.
The Net-T pod capability allows units with ROVER-5s to communicate directly with each other using the aircraft to route signals, so long as the troops are in line-of-sight with the aircraft.
After the study is sent to Wright Patterson Air Force Base in mid-February, the software will return to Eglin to begin the operational testing with the 53rd Wing. The flying router could be transmitting data in operational aircraft by 2014. (Post)
Spirit Airlines has launched nonstop daily service between New Orleans Louis Armstrong International Airport and Dallas/Fort Worth International Airport. It wants to expand to twice-daily flights in June. Spirit, of Miramar, Fla., has a fleet of 35 Airbus A319 and A320 aircraft and operates flights to 49 destinations in the United States, Caribbean, Bahamas and Latin America. (Post)
-- Why has passenger traffic decreased at Northwest Florida Beaches International Airport? Officials are conducting price evaluations to determine whether rates are competitive with other airports in the region. December marked the fourth straight month of passenger decreases. (Post)
-- In Mississippi, Keesler Air Force Base's Air Force Medical Genetics Laboratory received accreditation from the College of American Pathologists. Keesler operates the only genetics center in the Department of Defense. The Keesler genetics laboratory, an element of the 81st Medical Operations Squadron, is one of more than 7,000 CAP-accredited facilities worldwide. (Post)
Air Force Maj. Gen. William H. Etter has been nominated for appointment to lieutenant general and for assignment as commander, First Air Force and commander, Continental United States North American Aerospace Defense Command Region, Tyndall Air Force Base, Fla. Etter is assistant to the chairman, joint chiefs of staff for National Guard matters, Joint Staff, Pentagon, Washington, D.C. (Post)
-- Three Air Force officers at Hurlburt Field, Fla., were nominated for promotions. Col. James C. Slife, commander of the 1st Special Operations Wing, Air Force Special Operations Command, was nominated for appointment to brigadier general; Air Force Brig. Gen. Marshall B. Webb, director, plans, programs, requirements and assessments, headquarters Air Force Special Operations Command, was nominated for appointment to major general; and Brig. Gen. Timothy J. Leahy, commander of the 23rd Air Force, director of operations Air Force Special Operations Command, was nominated for appointment to major general. (Post)
-- Four female aviators visited Naval Air Station Pensacola during the week to help the National Naval Aviation Museum gather material for an exhibit honoring contributions women to naval aviation since World War I. The four, who flew in aboard an E-2C Hawkeye patrol plane, provided video interviews for the exhibit. The crew is part of the Carrier Airborne Early Warning System of the USS Carl Vinson. The exhibit will open later this year. (Post)
CSC Applied Technologies LLC, Fort Worth, Texas, was awarded a $28.5 million contract modification for Keesler Air Force Base Operations Support Services. The location of performance is Keesler AFB, Miss. The contracting activity is 81 CONS/LGCM, Keesler Air Force Base. (Post)
STEM: Schools along the Mississippi, Alabama and Louisiana coast are getting nearly $110,000 in Ingalls Shipbuilding grants for science, technology, engineering and
mathematics lessons in their classrooms. (Post)
LPD 17: Huntington Ingalls is floating the idea of continuing production of the LPD 17 hull in Pascagoula, Miss., as a platform for ballistic missile defense and other missions. (Post)