Saturday, April 20, 2013

Week in review (4/14 to 4/20)

The final public reunion of the Doolittle Raiders; another Airbus supplier picks Mobile and another Mobile company joins the Airbus project; the selection of a new president for the Mobile Area Chamber of Commerce; new restrictions for using unmanned aerial systems in Florida; and the final mission of Combat Talons I’s were among the aerospace news items of interest to the region that moved during the week.

Here's the week in review:

It's sad to think that this past week's 71st reunion of the Doolittle Raiders in Fort Walton Beach, Fla., will be the last public get-together. There are four of the heroes left of the original 80, and the next time they get together will be in private to open a bottle of Hennessy cognac for a final toast.

On April 18, 1942, the men took off in B-25s from the USS Hornet to bomb Tokyo. They learned how to conduct short takeoffs in stripped down B-25s during three weeks of intensive training at Florida's Eglin Field, today's massive Eglin Air Force Base.

Dropping bombs on Japan just four months after Pearl Harbor was designed to boost U.S. morale and send a message to Japan and the world. But the planes had to launch early, and it was clear reaching China would be nearly impossible. But they left anyway, which may have been an even bigger message about U.S. resolve and determination.

This past week at a hangar at Eglin Air Force Base, an modern F-35 lined up facing a World War II-era B-25. The hangar was dedicated to retired Lt. Col. Ed Saylor, a maintenance crew chief for one of the 16 crews that participated in the raid. (Post)

At a luncheon held at the Northwest Florida Fairgrounds in Fort Walton Beach, Rear Adm. Don Quinn, commander, Naval Education and Training Command in nearby Pensacola, Fla., addressed more than 600 people who had come to honor the remaining Raiders.

The Raiders present included Lt. Col. Richard Cole, co-pilot with Col. Jimmy Doolittle; Staff Sgt. David Thatcher, an engineer and gunner on crew 7; and Saylor, engineer for crew 15. The fourth Raider who was unable to attend is Lt. Col. Robert Hite, co-pilot of crew 16. (Post)

For a story on the Raiders’ visit with today’s Air Commandos at Hurlburt Field, Fla., click here.

Kuehne + Nagel North America is opening an office in Mobile, Ala., the second Airbus-related supplier for the Alabama port city. The world's largest logistic company is the principal logistical supplier for Airbus in Hamburg, Germany. The Mobile office will offer logistics to companies from the aerospace industry and the oil and gas and marine sectors. Airbus broke ground April 8 on its A320 final production line at Brookley Aeroplex. The first supplier, Safran Engineering Services, opened its Brookley office before the Airbus groundbreaking. (Post)

Meanwhile, Mobile-based Hargrove Engineers and Contractors has been chosen by Hoar Program Management to assist with the Airbus final assembly line at Brookley. It will work alongside Frankfurt Short Bruza Associates P.C. to provide architectural and engineering services for the $600 million project's flight line, final phase, gauging hangar and delivery center. The assembly line will employ 1,000. (Post)

While all that is going on, Airbus Americas posted another job opening for the Mobile operation. The company is seeking a facilities manager for the Mobile assembly line. Preference will be given to candidates with a bachelor's and five years' supervisory experience. (Post)

-- More than 80 business leaders are heading to Hamburg, Germany, this weekend to learn more about how the impact an Airbus assembly plant can have on a community. They'll be in Germany by Sunday. Delegates will visit several areas and facilities through April 24. Participants include officers from area banks, engineering and construction firms, shipping concerns, human resource companies, the Port of Alabama and the Mobile Airport Authority, to name a few. (Post)

-- Daimler sold its remaining 7.5 percent stake in EADS to EADS, cutting the vehicle maker's equity ties with the company it helped found. France, Germany and Spain are reducing state interests in EADS, which in March approved a change in shareholder structure. Changes were pushed through after EADS’ attempted merger with BAE Systems failed. Earlier this month French media group Lagardere sold a 7.4 percent EADS stake. (Post)

Leadership changes
Bill Sisson, executive director of the Mobile Airport Authority, will succeed Win Hallett as president of the Mobile Area Chamber of Commerce. The date is not yet firmed up, since it will depend on the airport authority finding a replacement for Sisson. Hallett has held the position for 22 years.

Sisson, who has led the airport authority since 2008, is the former vice president of economic development for the chamber, so he brings to the organization a wealth of institutional knowledge at a time of tremendous change in Mobile.

Chamber Chairman Mike Saxon said Sisson is the right person at the right time. (Post)

Indeed, Sisson's background makes him a good choice for the job. The chamber, which serves an economic development role in Mobile, was a major force behind bringing Airbus to Brookley Aeroplex. And the airport authority operates both Mobile Regional Airpor and Brookley.

Sisson, in short, has been in the thick of it.

"This community is poised for unprecedented growth and prosperity, and I look forward to working again at the chamber to continue the excellent economic and community development that has occurred under Win's leadership," Sisson said.

The test flight of a new private cargo-carrying rocket is slated for late Saturday afternoon. (Late Saturday update: The Saturday launch was canceled because of concerns about upper-level winds. The next attempt will be Sunday) Private aerospace firm Orbital Sciences Corp. wanted to fly the two-stage Antares rocket Wednesday from Virginia's Mid-Atlantic Regional Spaceport on Wallops Island, but a data cable separated from the booster and forced a delay. Orbital then tried for Friday but weather got in the way. The Aerojet AJ26 rocket engines that power Antares are tested at Stennis Space Center, Miss. (Post)

-- NASA expects a slightly reduced civil servant workforce, facility consolidations and less
spending on consultants, according to the agency's proposed 2014 budget. Of the agency’s centers, Stennis Space Center, Miss., which hosts much of the agency’s propulsion testing, would receive the least money, $182 million. SSC, the center with the fewest civil servants, would lose just five positions. (Post)

Florida is the newest state to pass legislation restricting the use of unmanned aerial vehicles by local or state agencies except in cooperation with investigations authorized by the Department of Homeland Security or in short-term emergencies. The bill prevents law enforcement use of drones unless a judge has issued a warrant or in cases where there is a "high risk of terrorist attack," or a case of imminent danger, such as in a missing person case where the person is thought to be in immediate danger. (Post)

-- Plans to demonstrate autonomous aerial refueling of the Northrop Grumman X-47B
unmanned combat air system demonstrator have been axed from the Navy's fiscal 2014 budget. Previous plans called for the X-47B to conduct autonomous probe-and-drogue and boom-and-receptacle refueling tests in 2014. Previously, the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency ended a program to demonstrate autonomous refueling between two Northrop Grumman RQ-4 Global Hawks. Northrop Grumman Fire Scout and Global Hawk UAVs are built in part in Moss Point, Miss. (Post)

The Air Force's last four MC-130E Combat Talon I's had their final mission from their home at Duke Field, Fla., on April 15. The Talons will be officially retired in a ceremony at Duke Field on April 25 and the aircraft will then be flown to the "boneyard" at Davis-Monthan Air Force Base, Ariz.

The four Talons carried more than 40 of the wing's airmen who had a long association with the Talon I's and wanted to be a part of the historic final flight. The retirement of the Talons are part of the 919th Special Operations Wing's transition to the new Aviation Foreign Internal Defense mission. More than five of the wing's new aircraft, the C-145A, are already on the Duke flightline. (Post)

-- The commander at Keesler Air Force Base in Biloxi, Miss., said the base will ground planes and reduce training to deal with a 20 percent reduction in its budget caused by sequestration. Brig. Gen. Brad Spacy, commander of the 81st Training Wing, said a third of the fleet will be parked and long-term maintenance on planes will be cut by 18 percent. (Post)

-- In Florida, 10 civilians will be affected by a civilian Reduction in Force, scheduled to go into effect Aug. 23, at Eglin Air Force Base. Of the 10 civilians, seven are assigned to the 96th Test Wing and three to tenant organizations. About 1,000 positions Air Force wide at 60 installations are affected by workforce shaping. (Post)

-- Lt. Col. Matthew "Pipper" Bradley, 83rd Fighter Weapons Squadron operations director at Tyndall Air Force Base, Fla., has been selected to be Thunderbird No. 1. Bradley will be joining the team in 2014, the 61st year of the Air Force's flight demonstration team. (Post)

In Alabama, Lockheed Martin Missiles and Fire Control Pike County Operations is expected to bring in some 100 additional jobs over seven years. The expansion of the Troy, Ala., facility will provide capability to meet anticipated production schedules over the next decade. The expansion would also allow for continued production of the Terminal High Altitude Area Defense and the Joint Air-to-Surface Standoff Missile, as well as support for potential new production awards. The plant employs 360 workers. (Post)

L-3 Vertex Aerospace LLC, Madison, Miss., was awarded a $45.2 million contract modification to extend FA8I06-IO-C-0012 for 12 months for contractor logistic support for the Iraqi Air Force C208 and C172 aircraft and for maintenance students training on both aircraft without a break in service.

Christening: The Navy was scheduled to christen the Joint High Speed Vessel Millinocket Saturday. The 338 foot-long aluminum catamaran is being constructed by Austal USA in Mobile, Ala. (Post)

Contract: Bath Iron Works, Bath, Maine, was awarded a $12.6 million modification to previously awarded contract to exercise an option for Littoral Combat Ship Class Design Services. One percent of the work will be done in Mobile, Ala. (Post)

LCS: The Austal-built Littoral Combat Ship Coronado experienced a fire in its starboard diesel exhaust while conducting a high-speed demonstration on its second day of sea trials in the Gulf of Mexico. The fire was put out immediately and the Coronado returned to the shipyard. (Post)

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