Saturday, June 15, 2013

Week in review (6/9 to 6/15)

For this region and the rest of the aerospace world, much of the focus in the coming week will be on the 50th International Paris Air Show. It begins Monday, and the first four days are exclusively for trade visitors. The last three days are open to the public.

Airbus got the headlines rolling when its A350 had its maiden flight Friday, guaranteeing headlines just as air show participants arrive. The plane, which like the Boeing 787 uses a lot of lightweight composite materials, took off from Toulouse-Blagnac airport for a four-hour flight that included flying over the Pyrenees.

The wide-body A350 is expected to show up at the Paris air show, possibly Friday. It has A350 and XWB written on its belly so folks on the ground will have no doubt what it is. The Gulf Coast has ties to the A350. It's powered by twin Rolls-Royce Trent XWB engines, tested at the Rolls-Royce outdoor facility at Stennis Space Center, Miss.

The A350 competes with Boeing's 787 and 777, and so far there are over 600 orders for the A350. Airbus hopes to have the plane certified for commercial flight in 12 to 13 months. (Post)

On the eve of the show, Boeing raised its estimate of global demand for aircraft in the next 20 years by 3.8 percent to 35,280 planes. It also upped the value by 7 percent to $4.8 trillion. Pushing the numbers up are demand in the Asia-Pacific region and low-cost carriers.

Airbus estimated in its last forecast in September that from 2012-2031, demand for new airliners would total 28,200 worth $4 trillion. Boeing says that from 2013-2032, demand in the segment for medium-range airliners with a single aisle, typically supplied by the Boeing 737 and Airbus A320, would total 24,670 aircraft worth $2.29 billion.

Airliner sales, particularly for single-aisle planes like the A320, are of high interest to this region of the country. Airbus broke ground in April on a $600 million final assembly line for A320s at Brookley Aeroplex in Mobile, Ala. (Post)

This region and the states with a piece of this region are well-represented at the Paris Air Show. A four-member delegation from Northwest Florida is led by Florida’s Great Northwest. They have meetings scheduled with 14 aviation companies to discuss the benefits of operating in Northwest Florida. The group is coordinating efforts with Enterprise Florida, the state’s economic development organization, which has meetings with more than 40 companies. (Post)

Alabama leaders, economic development specialists and local officials from around the state are also attending the show in hopes of expanding Alabama’s aerospace footprint. The delegation from Alabama will meet with more than 20 companies, some who already have a presence in the state and others they hope to recruit. The Department of Commerce says more than 300 aerospace and aviation companies and organizations operate across Alabama. One of the most high profile is the Airbus assembly plant that is being built in Mobile. (Post)

Mississippi also will have a delegation at the show. The seven-member group includes Gov. Phil Bryant and the Mississippi Development Authority. The delegation has meetings set up with dozens of companies to discuss expansion opportunities, including some suppliers for the Airbus jetliner assembly line. (Post)

One of the events at the Paris Air Show that’s bound to get attention – it has in the past – is the Sunday reception on the Seine hosted by the Aerospace Alliance, an organization that helps market Alabama, Florida, Louisiana and Mississippi’s aerospace activities.

In Alabama, the Mobile Airport Authority has launched discussions with two firms to develop as many as 215 acres at Brookley Aeroplex, where Airbus is building its $600 million final assembly line. The two firms are Baltimore-based Cordish and teammate Mobile-based JMG Realty. Brookley, a former Air Force base, now hosts aerospace and other companies. The authority envisions a total build-out of the aerospace hub that nearly doubles commercial space to 6 million square feet, creates a net increase of more than 4,000 jobs and houses as many as 10,000 employees. (Post)

- Year-over-year passenger traffic at the Mobile Regional Airport increased five percent to more than 191,000 by the close of April. Bill Sisson, executive director of the Mobile Airport Authority, said several economic development successes, including the Airbus final assembly line project, have raised the regional airport's profile but are not solely responsible for the uptick in traffic. According to the authority's data, traffic has increased incrementally each month in 2013, and the airport is on track to record a landmark year for enplanements. (Post)

GenCorp, owner of rocket engine maker Aerojet, has been given the thumbs up from the Federal Trade Commission to buy Pratt and Whitney Rocketdyne from United Technologies. The FTC ended its 10-month look into the matter after the Defense Department urged the $550 million purchase be OKd.

Both companies make rocket engines for spacecraft and components for military missile defense systems. They are also the only main suppliers of a high-performance liquid rocket propulsion system that the military uses for missile defense.

Rocketdyne has an operation at Stennis Space Center, Miss., where Aerojet tests its AJ-26 engines that power Orbital Science's Antares launch vehicle. The Rocketdyne operation has had different owners in the past. It was once owned by Boeing. (Post)

- NASA's Orion crew module, which will sit atop the launch vehicle in NASA's Space Launch System program, has passed its static loads tests. Engineers at NASA's Kennedy Space Center, Fla., built a 20-foot-tall static loads test fixture for the crew module with hydraulic cylinders that slowly push or pull on the vehicle.

The fixture produced 110 percent of the load caused by eight different types of stress Orion will experience its test flight in September 2014. Orion also was pressurized to simulate the effect of the vacuum in space, allowing engineers verify repairs made to cracks in the vehicle's rear bulkhead found during pressure testing in November.

Michoud Assembly Facility, New Orleans, builds Orion and the core stage of the Space Launch System, and Stennis Space Center, Miss., tests the AJ-26 and RS-25 engines that will be used to boost the SLS rockets. (Post)

- J-2X engine No. 10002 was tested during the week on the A-1 Test Stand at NASA's Stennis Space Center, Miss. The 60-second test signals the start of a series of firings to collect data on performance of the engine that will power a stage of the launch vehicle in NASA's Space Launch System. (Post)

Air Force Col. Todd Canterbury assumed command of the 33rd Fighter Wing at Eglin Air Force Base, Fla., from Col. Andrew Toth as the week drew to a close. Canterbury, a former Thunderbird demonstration pilot, was executive officer for the Deputy Commander United States Forces Korea, United Nations Command, Seoul, South Korea, prior to his arrival at Eglin.

Also on Friday, Marine Col. Arthur Tomassetti retired during a ceremony in the Marine Fighter Attack Training Squadron -501 F-35B Hangar. Tomassetti has been with the F-35 program for almost 15 years and flew all three variants of the F-35. (Post)

- Israel's Elbit Systems-Cyclone delivered its first advanced composite component for the F-35 center fuselage made by Northrop Grumman. The component delivered is one of 16 parts to be manufactured by Elbit Systems-Cyclone under a seven-year agreement with Northrop Grumman. Northrop Grumman is a principal member of the Lockheed Martin-led F-35 industry team. (Post)

- There were two contracts awarded during the week in connection with the F-35 program. Pratt and Whitney Military Engines of East Hartford, Conn., was awarded a $648.8 million modification to a previously awarded contract to extend the F135 System Development and Demonstration contract period of performance. The modification includes the procurement of two spare flight test engines and additional spare parts to support the F-35 Flight Test Program. (Post)

In addition, Lockheed Martin Aeronautics Co., Fort Worth, Texas, was awarded a $104.7 million modification to a previously awarded contract for the procurement and delivery of 83,169 Xilinx field programmable gate arrays for the Air Force, Marine Corps, Navy and the governments of Italy, Turkey, Australia, Norway, United Kingdom, the Netherlands and Denmark. These FPGAs are required for the manufacture of the low rate initial production Lot VII through full rate production Lot III Joint Strike Fighter aircraft. (Post)

ATK and Finmeccanica's Alenia Aermacchi successfully completed the first phase of ground and flight tests of the MC-27J multi-mission aircraft. A roll-on/roll-off gun system pallet was installed and tested on the Spartan airlifter.

The tests at Eglin Air Force Base, Fla., demonstrated the ability of the C-27J to host the self-contained, modular pallet utilizing ATK's GAU-23 30mm cannon in a side-firing configuration. The tests were designed and certified by the U.S. Air Force and deemed successful by Air Force Special Operations Command. (Post)

- Lt. Col. Patrick Godfrey assumed command of the 325th Communications Squadron from Lt. Col. Wayne Wisneski during a change of command ceremony Thursday at Tyndall Air Force Base, Fla. The 325th Communications Squadron provides the 325th Fighter Wing and 29 associate units with advanced communications, computer and information management systems, air traffic control maintenance systems, postal and visual information support and communications security. (Post)

Northrop Grumman was awarded a contract to support the Navy's integration onto an unmanned surface vehicle the AQS-24A Side Look Sonar System. The AQS-24A and its predecessors airborne minehunting search systems have been used by the Navy for 28 years.

The AQS-24A is primarily towed from the MH-53E helicopter, but has been tested from USVs since 2002. The Naval Surface Warfare Center in Panama City, Fla., is among the Navy bases that have jointly developed an 11-meter USV that launched, recovered and towed the AQS-24A. (Post)

Raytheon Missile Systems, Tucson, Ariz., was awarded a $534.8 million contract for AMRAAM Production Lot 27. Fifty one percent of the production effort is Foreign Military Sales (AIM-120 C7s for Oman and Saudi Arabia). Air Force Life Cycle Management Center/EBA, Eglin Air Force Base, Fla., is the contracting activity. … Lockheed Martin Missiles and Fire Control, Orlando, Fla., was awarded a $9.9 million delivery order against a previously issued basic ordering agreement for JASSM Common Unique Planning Component software. Air Force Life Cycle Management Center/EBJK, Eglin, is the contracting activity.

NSC: Ingalls Shipbuilding, Pascagoula, Miss., received a $76.8 million contract from the U.S. Coast Guard to purchase long-lead materials for Kimball (WMSL 756), the company's seventh National Security Cutter (NSC). (Post)

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