Saturday, August 3, 2013

Week in review (7/28 to 8/3)

The parent of Airbus is changing its name; another Mobile, Ala., firm is picked to work on the Airbus assembly line project at Brookley Aeroplex; a key segment of the Space Launch System is unveiled at Michoud Assembly Facility in New Orleans; the comment period for plans to allow more F-35 flights over Valparaiso, Fla., ends; and an agreement to buy 71 more F-35s were some of the aerospace stories of interest for the Gulf Coast region during the week.

But before we go into the week in review, it's appropriate to mark a passing.

Last weekend retired Air Force Col. George "Bud" Day died at age 88. Day, who lived in Shalimar, Fla., was among the nation's most highly decorated servicemen with nearly 70 medals, including the Medal of Honor.

He served in World War II, the Korean War and the Vietnam War, and was a prisoner of war in Vietnam's Hanoi Hilton, where he shared a cell with John McCain. About 1,500 people attended his funeral Thursday, and several thousand more lined U.S. 98 as the funeral procession drove to Barrancas National Cemetery in Pensacola, Fla.

Now here's the week in review:

Airbus was a hot topic at the Economic Development Association of Alabama's summer conference this week in Point Clear, Ala.. According to the Mobile Press-Register, the prevailing belief at the gathering is that the $600 million A320 final assembly line being built at Brookley Aeroplex is just the beginning.

It's been said from the start that the plant, which had a groundbreaking in April, may expand beyond what's already in the works. When it's in production in 2015, the Mobile plant will be assembling 10 percent of the company's A320 jetliners. But there's room to grow at Brookley.

One of the interesting points brought up at the meeting is that the area between Mobile, Ala., and North Charleston, S.C., may become a hot spot for suppliers. Airbus will be building A320 jetliners in Mobile and Boeing is building 787 jetliners in North Charleston. Mark Williams, chief executive of Strategic Development Group Inc., in Columbia, S.C., said Alabama, George and South Carolina are well-positioned.

But it might also be appropriate to add North Florida to that mix. In addition to the aerospace activity in the Panhandle, Brazil's Embraer opened a plant in a hangar at Florida’s Jacksonville International Airport to build the A-29 Super Tucano planes for the Air Force. Further up the coast in Savannah, Ga., is headquarters for business jet builder Gulfstream, a General Dynamics company.

-- The parent of Airbus is changing its name from EADS (European Aeronautic Defence and Space Co.) to Airbus Group and putting its space and military units into one division. Airbus Group will consist of three divisions: Airbus, comprising all commercial operations; defense and space, which combines the company's Cassidian defense division with aerospace unit Astrium; and helicopters. The changes will begin in January. (Post)

-- Jean Botti, the chief technology officer from EADS, told an audience in Mobile, Ala., that cybersecurity, alternative fuels and aerodynamics are key research and development areas for the company. It wants to develop partnerships with the University of South Alabama and others to develop those areas in the coming decades. Botti was a speaker at the Mobile Area Chamber of Commerce’s Advisors and Directors Summer Meeting. EADS has more than 350 global partnerships that have led to products needed by the aerospace company. (Post)

-- Speaking of products needed by the aerospace industry, Airbus got initial EASA certification of its Runway Overrun Prevention System (ROPS) technology on A320 current engine option family aircraft. The on-board cockpit technology increases pilots’ situational awareness during landing, reduces exposure to runway excursion risk, and if necessary, provides active protection. European Aviation Safety Agency certification of ROPS on the A320ceo is a step on the way to making ROPS available for line-fit and retrofit to other Airbus models. (Post)

-- Mobile-based Thompson Engineering will provide engineering services for Package D of the Airbus final assembly line being built in Mobile. Birmingham-based Hoar Program Management announced the contract Thursday. It will include design for utilities, parking lots, airfield pavements, security, electrical, communications, infrastructure and landscaping. (Post)

-- Airbus America posted two more job openings for its assembly line at Brookley. The company is seeking one person to fill the role of Avionics/Electrical Installation Station Coordinator and another to fill the role of Mechanical Installation Station Coordinator. (Post)

The first liquid hydrogen tank barrel segment for the core stage of NASA's Space Launch System recently was completed at Michoud Assembly Facility in New Orleans. The segment validates the vertical weld center, a friction-stir-weld tool for wet and dry structures on the SLS core stage, is working the way it should. NASA and Boeing engineers have been conducting friction-stir-welding tests at Michoud to ensure quality and safety of flight hardware. (Post)

The comments period on a proposal to allow more F-35 jets to fly over Valparaiso, Fla., has ended. Nearly 70 people lodged comments, according to a preliminary analysis. About 20 percent favored lifting restrictions on the runway that would send F-35 traffic over Valparaiso. The main concerns of those opposed to the plan are noise and impacts to property values. A final report is expected to be released to the public this fall. The F-35 Integrated Training Center is at Eglin Air Force Base, Fla. (Post)

-- The Defense Department and Lockheed Martin reached agreement on orders for 71 more F-35s worth as much as $7 billion. The deal includes 36 jets in the sixth lot and 35 in the seventh, with 60 going to the U.S. military and 11 for Australia, Italy, Turkey and Britain. (Post)

-- Northrop Grumman delivered its 100th AN/ASQ-242 communications, navigation and identification (CNI) system to Lockheed Martin Corp. for integration into the F-35. CNI provides pilots with the capability of more than 27 avionics functions. It allows the simultaneous operation of multiple functions, including Identification Friend or Foe, navigation, and various voice and data communications. (Post)

Lockheed Martin Information Systems and Global Solutions, Owego, N.Y., TYBRIN Corp., Fort Walton Beach, Fla.; Harris IT Services Corp., Dulles, Va.; SRA International, Fairfax, Va.; Raytheon, Garland, Texas; and L-3 National Security Solutions, Reston, Va., were awarded a $960 million multiple award contract for Network-Centric Solutions-2 (NETCENTS-2) Application Services. Air Force Life Cycle Management Center/HICK, Maxwell Air Force Base-Gunter Annex, Ala., is the contracting activity. … Lockheed Martin Mission Systems and Training, Owego, N.Y., was awarded a $39.4 million contract to provide flight test, technical, management, and process support services necessary to update and maintain operational software, vendor software, maintenance-related software, and laboratory support software in support of the MH-60R/S and SH-60B aircraft. Pascagoula, Miss., will perform 1.5 percent of the work.

LPD 27: The keel of Ingalls Shipbuilding’s 11th amphibious transport dock ship Portland (LPD 27) was authenticated Friday at the company's shipyard. (Post)

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