Progress on Mobile's Airbus assembly line; some more firsts for the F-35 fighter, including night shipboard landings and refueling firsts; an upcoming forum for companies that would like to do business with NASA; and formation of a manufacturing council in Northwest Florida were among the news items during the week of interest to the Gulf Coast region.
Here's your week in review:
A report on a global manufacturing trend pointed to the decision by Airbus to expand production into the United States as a prime example. The CNBC report focused on the Boston Consulting Group's recent report indicating the United States is rapidly becoming a low-cost leader for manufacturing. Part of the reason is that exports have been growing more than seven times faster than GDP since 2005. (Post)
That manufacturing trend will sound familiar if you read a copy of Gulf Coast Aerospace Corridor 2013-2014, an annual book that was published in June. It had a chapter on foreign investments that suggested a new foreign investments wave was near. It, too, pointed to Airbus as a part of that trend. You can read the chapter by clicking here. If you want to look at the entire book, you can click here. I recommend it, but then again, I am part of the Gulf Coast Reporters' League, the team of reporters/editors who produced it.
Speaking of that Airbus plant, the company says 85 percent of the more than 2,100 pilings for the final assembly line hangar and service building have been driven at the Brookley Aeroplex site. Steelwork is slated to begin in September. The $600 million plant is scheduled to come online in 2015. (Post)
Meanwhile, an architectural firm in Fairhope was picked o work on portions of the Airbus A320 final assembly line campus being built at Brookley Aeroplex. Walcott Adams Verneuille Architects will be lead architectural firm for design of the transshipment hangar, main entry gate building and renovation of Brookley’s existing warehouse and receiving facility. (Post)
In Alabama's Baldwin County, school officials have moved the opening date to fall 2014 for their $2.7 million aviation training facility at the H.L. "Sonny" Callahan Airport in Fairhope. The school board approved an operating lease for the training center, which will be built as part of a partnership with Faulkner State Community College, Enterprise State Community College and the Fairhope Airport Authority. School officials had originally planned to start classes in January. (Post)
While on the topic of future workers, manufacturers in 12 Panhandle counties have formed the Northwest Florida Manufacturers Council. It's goal is development of a manufacturing workforce. The council estimates that 3,400 new skilled workers will be needed in the next five years, but regional education and workforce development programs forecast producing only 860 in that time. The council is working with schools, technical centers and state colleges develop curricula to provide students with the skills they need to work at a high-tech manufacturing business. (Post)
NASA is the focal point of a business-to-business forum Wednesday at the Mobile Convention Center in Mobile, Ala. NASA and an entourage of its agencies and prime contractors will give presentation and participate in a trade show to meet with small- and medium-sized companies interested in doing business with NASA. In the Gulf Coast region NASA operates Stennis Space Center, Miss., and Michoud Assembly Facility in New Orleans. The event, hosted by the Mobile Area Chamber, is from 8 a.m. to 3 p.m. (Post)
-- A United Launch Alliance Delta IV Heavy rocket carrying a payload for the National Reconnaissance Office lifted off from California’s Vandenberg Air Force Base during the week. The rocket’s common booster cores are powered by RS-68 engines assembled and tested at Stennis Space Center, Miss. (Post)
-- Sierra Nevada of Colorado successfully completed a captive-carry test of the Dream Chaser spacecraft Aug. 22 at Dryden Flight Research Center in California. Lockheed Martin is assembling the composite structure for the first space-bound Dream Chaser at Michoud Assembly Facility in New Orleans. (Post)
Two F-35B fighters completed dozens of test flights from the deck of the USS Wasp over the past month. Marine Corps officials said the jets had made more than 90 successful vertical landings, including many at night. Marines plan to use their version – one of three variants – in mid-2015. Eglin Air Force Base, Fla., is home of the F-35 training center. (Post)
-- An F-35 carrier variant refueled from an Air Force KC-135 for the first time Aug. 20. With the completion of this test, the F-35C joins the A and B models in proving that all three variants of the F-35 can be refueled from a common tanker platform, despite different methods. The Strike Fighter Squadron 101, the Navy's first F-35C carrier variant aircraft squadron, completed its first flight at Eglin Air Force Base in early August. (Post)
-- The weapons troop Standardization Load Crew from the 33rd Maintenance Group performed the first munitions load verification during the week on the F-35A. It involves loading and unloading laser-guided and GPS-guided bombs, and air-to-air missiles into the weapons bays of the aircraft. Ultimately, this is the work that is performed down range. Eglin is laying the foundation. (Post)
-- Pratt and Whitney of East Hartford, Conn., was awarded an advance acquisition contract valued at $69.6 million for long-lead components, parts and materials associated with the low rate initial production Lot VIII of 19 F135 engines for the Air Force; six for the Marines and four for the Navy. It also provides for long lead components, parts and materials associated with Lot VII of four F135 engines for Italy; four for the United Kingdom and two for Norway. (Post)
In anothe engine-related item, the Pentagon and Pratt & Whitney reached an agreement on a contract to build 39 engines for the sixth batch of F-35 fighters. In July, DoD agreed on a contract with Lockheed Martin for a sixth and seventh order of the F-35s. DoD buys the jet engines directly with Pratt and Whitney. (Post)
Air Force officials held a meeting in Apalachicola, Fla., to discuss making Tate's Hell State Forest a site for some Eglin Air Force Base training. Dozens of residents showed up to express concern about the land north of the coast in Franklin County. An Air Force official said the land has unique features, including abandoned logging roads that make good runways for small aircraft. (Post)
-- Cesar Pelli has joined the team redesigning the Louis Armstrong New Orleans International Airport. The $826 million project will result in a new 30-gate terminal, complete with hotel, parking garage, highway access and other amenities. (Post)
Lockheed Martin Mission Systems and Training, Orlando, Fla., was awarded a $7 million contract modification for upgrade of the Visual and Joint Precision Airdrop systems on the C-130J maintenance and aircrew training system devices. Work will be done in Little Rock Air Force Base, Ark., and Keesler Air Force Base, Miss., with completion by Dec. 31, 2014. … InDyne Inc., Reston, Va., was awarded a $250.3 million contract modification for Eglin Test & Training Complex range operations and maintenance services. Work will be done at Eglin Air Force Base, Fla., and is expected to be completed by March 31, 2016. Air Force Test Center/PZZB, Eglin AFB, Fla., is the contracting activity. … A&D GC Inc., Santee, Calif., was awarded $9 million for firm-fixed-price task order under a previously awarded multiple award construction contract for Triton Maintenance Training Facility PM50 renovation at Naval Base Ventura County, Point Mugu, Calif. Triton UAVs are built in part in Moss Point, Miss.
Workforce: Ingalls Shipbuilding President Irwin F. Edenzon spoke with the Pascagoula Rotary Club about the long-term future of the shipyard in Pascagoula, Miss. Edenzon said the shipyard is ramping up to a workforce of about 13,000. (Post)
LCS 4: In Pascagoula, Miss., the future USS Coronado successfully concluded acceptance trials after completing a series of graded in-port and underway demonstrations for the Navy's Board of Inspection and Survey. (Post)