Saturday, June 22, 2013

Week in review (6/16 to 6/22)

Airbus racks up orders at the Paris Air Show and picks two people for its Mobile, Ala., operation; NASA shows the media its three-story, 165-ton vertical weld system in New Orleans; the first Navy F-35 arrives at Eglin Air Force Base; and the release of the final draft of a report analyzing the impact of F-35 training at Eglin were among the stories of interest to the Gulf Coast region during the week.

Here's the week in review:

Aviation companies at the 50th Paris Air Show announced deals for about 1,460 aircraft over the show's four business days. The show's top aircraft sales performer was Airbus, but South American aircraft maker Embraer also racked up a lot of sales in the first two days of the show. Both companies are of interest to this region. Airbus broke ground in April on an A320 final assembly line in Mobile, Ala., while Embraer in March 2013 had a ribbon-cutting for its Super Tucano assembly plant in Jacksonville, Fla. (Post)

During the show, EasyJet said it will buy 135 Airbus single-aisle A320 jetliners, including 100 new engine option aircraft for $11.9 billion. EasyJet will acquire 35 current generation A320 aircraft for delivery between 2015 and 2017 under an existing option agreement, and 100 A320neo planes for delivery between 2017 and 2022 under a new deal. (Post)

The Lufthansa Group, meanwhile, firmed up a previous decision from March this year and signed for 35 A320neo, 35 A321neo and 30 A320ceo with sharklets. Lufthansa is the largest Airbus airline customer and operator in Europe. (Post)

International Lease Finance Corp. exercised options to purchase 50 incremental A320neo aircraft that were part of the agreement signed in April 2011 for 100 firm A320neo family aircraft. Deliveries of ILFC's neo aircraft are expected to begin in 2015. (Post)

With all that in mind, Airbus may increase A320 production by 19 percent by 2020 from 42 a month now to satisfy rising demand. That's according to Tom Williams, the Airbus executive vice president for programs. He said during the week that suppliers need to start thinking about a rate of 50 aircraft a month. (Post)

-- During the Paris Air Show, Honeywell and Safran publicly demonstrated the electric green taxiing system (EGTS) for the first time on an Airbus A320. The technology enables aircraft to taxi autonomously using its own electrical power, avoiding the use of the main engines during taxiing. (Post)

-- Meanwhile, in Mobile, Ala., Airbus chose two more people for its management team for the company’s new A320 final assembly line at Brookley Aeroplex. Mark Smith was named manager of health, safety and environment, and Darren Gates was named facilities manager. The company broke ground in April on its $600 million assembly line that will eventually have 1,000 workers. (Post)

A machine for manufacturing the core stage of NASA's Space Launch System was shown to the media during the week at Michoud Assembly Facility in New Orleans. The three story tall, 165-ton vertical weld center, where friction-stir weld tooling will be used to assemble the core stage of NASA’s Space Launch System. The 200 foot-tall core stage will store cryogenic liquid hydrogen and liquid oxygen to feed the rocket's RS-25 engines. Engines for the SLS are tested at NASA's Stennis Space Center, Miss. (Post)

-- Aerojet Rocketdyne, the company formed with GenCorp's purchase of Pratt and Whitney Rocketdyne, promised the U.S. government $1 billion in savings over the next decade as a result of the deal. Aerojet Rocketdyne President Warren Boley told Reuters that the new company expected to double its revenues over the next five years from a current combined estimate of $1.7 billion. Aerojet Rocketdyne has an operation at Mississippi's Stennis Space Center. (Post)

Strike Fighter Squadron (VFA) 101 welcomed the Navy's first F-35C from Lockheed Martin Saturday at the squadron's home at Eglin Air Force Base, Fla. VFA 101 will serve as the F-35C Fleet Replacement Squadron, training both aircrew and maintenance personnel to fly and repair the F-35C. The F-35C is a fifth generation fighter outfitted to land on a carrier. Once in the fleet, it will complement the F/A-18E/F Super Hornet, currently the Navy's premier strike fighter. (Post)

 -- The final draft of a report analyzing the impact of the F-35 program on the communities surrounding Eglin Air Force Base, Fla., has been released. The report recommends that restrictions on flights that send air traffic over Valparaiso be lifted. The report also points out that the noise impact estimates across the board dropped by 2 to 3 decibels from the 2010 assessment. (Post)

ITT Exelis has been awarded a multimillion-dollar contract from Lockheed Martin to fabricate composite blade seal components for all variants of the F-35. This award will support production for LRIP 6 and 7 through 2015. Exelis has an operation in Panama City, Fla., that works with the Navy. (Post)

-- GE Intelligent Platforms of Huntsville, Ala., will supply Ethernet switches for the Navy's MQ-8 Fire Scout unmanned helicopters. The sole-source contract is for 15 RES-210 Ethernet switches for the Northrop Grumman-built Fire Scout. The Fire Scout can operate from land bases or a variety of surface ships. The GE RES-210 Ethernet switch is designed for harsh environments, such as on military platforms that are subject to high altitudes, vibration, shock, temperature extremes, humidity, and salt fog. Fire Scouts are assembled in part in Moss Point, Miss. (Post)

-- Raytheon Co. continues to exceed renegotiated delivery schedule requirements of the AIM-120 Advanced Medium Range Air-to-Air Missile (AMRAAM) to the U.S. Air Force following the renewal of contract payments in December 2012, a successful live-fire test and certification of a second rocket motor source. Nammo Group, the second AMRAAM rocket motor source based in Raufoss, Norway, was officially certified by the Nonnuclear Munitions Safety Board earlier this year. In 2010, Raytheon and Nammo began development and qualification of an alternative rocket motor for the AIM-120 AMRAAM. The live-fire test was performed in January 2013 at Eglin Air Force Base, Fla. (Post)

At least 2,100 civilian employees at Florida's Tyndall Air Force Base and Naval Support Activity Panama City will be impacted when furloughs begin July 8. About 700 U.S. Department of Defense civilians work at Tyndall, with furloughs scheduled through Sept. 30. There are about 1,474 people at the Navy base who will be furloughed. According to the DoD, the cuts would reduce pay about 20 percent over the furlough period. (Post)

-- An explosion at UTC Aerospace Systems in Foley, Ala., Friday morning injured two workers, one seriously. The plant is the former Goodrich facility, which became part of United Technologies last year. The plant is on the north side of Foley, near the municipal airport. Reports indicated the injured worker was cutting metal or welding when the explosion occurred. (Story)

The Mississippi Department of Rehabilitation Services, Madison, Miss., was awarded a $29 million multi-year contract for full food services, including providing personnel, supervision, and any items and services necessary to operate three full dining facilities, one flight kitchen, and one central preparation kitchen in support of organizational missions as needed. Work will be at Keesler Air Force Base, Miss. The 81st Contracting Squadron/LGCB, Keesler AFB, is the contracting activity. (Post)

SCMF: The newly-founded Science Center for Marine Fisheries held its first meeting at the Thad Cochran Marine Aquaculture Center in Ocean Springs, Miss., Friday. Funded by the National Science Foundation and the University Cooperative Research Center, the SCMF utilizes academic, recreational and commercial fisheries resources to address urgent scientific problems limiting sustainable fisheries. (Post)

Contract: Lockheed Martin Mission Systems and Training, Moorestown, N.J., was awarded a $9.9 million modification to previously awarded contract for DDG Modernization testing efforts associated with the Aegis Combat System and MK 59 Decoy Launcher System shipcheck studies onboard DDG 62. Two percent of the work will be done in Pascagoula, Miss. (Post)

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