Saturday, September 28, 2013

Week in review (9/22 to 9/28)

Airbus raised its forecast for the number of jetliners that will be needed over the next 20 years, and also inked a large number of deals for A320s; three contracts are awarded for production of F-35s, including one for $3.4 billion; the Navy on Monday will hold an F-35C rollout ceremony; a QF-16 drone made its first unmanned flight at Tyndall Air Force Base, Fla.; Dothan-Houston County airport gets $1 million for upgrades; ground was broken on an aviation training center in Fairhope, Ala.; an economic symposium gets under way in Destin, Fla.; and a new marketing strategy by Florida’s Great Northwest were among the news items of interest to the Gulf Coast region during the week.

Here's your week in review:

Airbus has adjusted its jet demand forecast, placing much of the increase on Asia’s increasingly affluent middle class. The latest Global Market Forecast said more than 29,220 new passenger and freighter jets worth $4.4 trillion would be needed over the next 20 years. It increased the figure for passenger jets 3.7 percent from its previous estimate, and for freighters it rose the number 1.6 percent. Boeing during the summer also revised upward its own 20-year market demand forecast by 3.8 percent. Airbus is building an A320 final assembly line at Brookley Aeroplex in Mobile, Ala. (Post)

Not long after that market forecast was released, a host of orders came in for the Airbus A320 family. More than 40 of the orders valued at $4.2 billion were announced at the 15th Aviation Expo China in Beijing, and another $10 billion memorandum of understanding was announced outside the expo. Buying the planes are VietJetAir, BOC Aviation, Qingdao Airlines and Zhejiang Loong Airlines. (Post)

While all that was going on, Airbus Americas posted two new managerial job openings for the $600 million assembly line being built at Brookley Aeroplex. One position is director of aircraft delivery, and the other is manufacturing engineer manager. Both positions require a minimum of nine months' training abroad. The final assembly plant will eventually have about 1,000 workers. (Post)

Lockheed Martin anticipates dozens of international orders or commitments for the F-35 in coming months, according to government and industry officials. The program got a boost during the week when South Korea rejected the Boeing F-15 and said it needed a fifth-generation fighter. Singapore may also announce an order for a dozen F-35s during the Singapore air show in February. (Post)

Meanwhile, at Eglin Air Force Base, Fla., home of the F-35 joint training center, the Navy will mark the F-35C's introduction to the fleet with a roll-out ceremony Tuesday. Strike Fighter Squadron 101 (VFA-101) will host the ceremony. The squadron stood up last year with 20 personnel and now has more than 100. The initial cadre of aviators will become instructor pilots to prepare for the transition of the first fleet squadron from the F/A-18 Hornet to the F-35C. (Post)

Speaking of training, air battle managers from the 337th Air Control Squadron at Tyndall Air Force Base, Fla., have begun working with the F-35. The plane requires a different set of operating rules than other fighters, and those rules are being written by air battle manager instructors who have had the chance to control the F-35. Air battle managers provide pilots with information they may not have. It could include vectors to the nearest refueling tanker. Information a pilot may need varies from aircraft to aircraft. Air battle managers must know the different capabilities of each aircraft, and making sure the information they pass is relevant. (Post)

There were also three contracts awarded for production of F-35s.

Lockheed Martin Aeronautics Co., Fort Worth, Texas, was awarded two during the week. One was a $3.4 billion modification to a previously awarded advance acquisition contract for Low Rate Initial Production Lot VII F-35 aircraft. The contract includes 19 Air Force F-35As, six Marine Corps F-35Bs, four Navy F-35Cs, two F-35As for Norway and three F-35As for Italy; and one F-35B for the United Kingdom. Aircraft deliveries are expected to be completed in October 2016. (Post)

The other contract for LM was a $742.7 million modification to the previously awarded F-35 Lot VI advance acquisition contract. It includes the manufacture and delivery of two F-35As for the Australia and three F-35As for Italy. Work is expected to be completed in April 2016. (Post)

In addition, Pratt and Whitney Military Engines of East Hartford, Conn., designer and producer of the F135 engine for the F-35, was awarded a $214.8 million modification to the previously awarded F-35 Lot VI low rate initial production advance acquisition contract. This modification provides for initial spare modules, initial spare parts, replenishment spare parts, and production non-recurring efforts, including tooling, for the Navy and Marine Corps, Air Force, and the governments of the United Kingdom, Italy, The Netherlands, Turkey, Canada, Australia, Denmark, and Norway. Work is expected to be completed in April 2016. (Post)

Hey, who’s controlling this thing!

That might have been what someone asked had they seen the cockpit of the QF-16 drone that flew around Tyndall Air Force Base, Fla., Sept. 19. Nobody was sitting in the plane. The 82nd Aerial Targets Squadron and Boeing conducted the first unmanned flight of the drone at Tyndall as the first step in a two year process to phase out the QF-4 Full Scale Aerial Target.

A pilot performed all the normal preflight checks before climbing out of the cockpit and locking the canopy from the outside. Control was then turned over to Thomas Mudge, 82nd ATRS pilot controller, sitting in a control room on the opposite side of base. The plane had a one-hour flight, conducting a series of maneuvers and reaching supersonic speeds before returning to base. (Post)

Another drone had a first during the week in California. Northrop Grumman turned on the power to the Navy's first MQ-8C Fire Scout unmanned helicopter and rotated the aircraft's four blades for the first time during initial ground testing and engine runs at Naval Base Ventura County Point Mugu, Calif., Sept. 20.

The C model upgrade to the Fire Scout system provides the Navy with more than twice the endurance and three times the payload carrying capacity. Northrop Grumman is under contract to produce MQ-8C aircraft for deployment beginning in 2014. Some of the work on the C model will eventually be done in Moss Point, Miss., which from the start has been involved in the production of the earlier B model Fire Scout. (Post)

The maritime surveillance sensors for another unmanned system built in part in Moss Point, the Navy's Triton, completed more than 25 flight tests aboard a Gulfsteam II surrogate craft off the California cost. The risk mitigation tests of the Multi-Function Active Sensor have to be finished before the sensors are placed on the Tritons, a variant of the Global Hawk. The Navy's program calls for 68 aircraft to be built. (Post)

While on the topic of Global Hawks, Northrop Grumman was awarded an $114.2 million contract for Global Hawk Low Rate Initial Production Lot 11 advance procurement. The contract provides for advance procurement of long lead items associated with three Block 30 Global Hawk Air Vehicles, three in-line Airborne Signals Intelligence Payloads (ASIP), three in-line Enhanced Integrated Sensor Suite (EISS) Sensors, two ASIP retrofit kits, and other items and activities required to protect the production schedule for Lot 11. Central fuselage work on Global Hawks is done in Moss Point. (Post)

Dothan-Houston County Airport Authority Inc. during the week was awarded a $1 million federal grant from the U.S. Economic Development Administration. The money will be used for roadway and water system improvements to support an aircraft maintenance and inspection business. Dothan was one of 16 projects in 11 states to get $21.1 million to support economic development projects. (Post)

Another airport in the region, H.L. “Sonny” Callahan Airport in Fairhope, had a ground breaking Friday on a $2.7 million aviation training facility. The school will teach students from Baldwin County high schools aviation technical skills, industrial maintenance and welding. The center is a partnership of Baldwin County Board of Education, Falkner State Community College, Enterprise State Community College and the Fairhope Airport Authority. (Post)

-- The restoration of the 1930-era Lakefront Airport terminal in New Orleans was unveiled this weekend. Construction on the original building began around 1929, and the airport started taking commercial flights in 1933, although it wasn't officially christened until 1934. During the Cold War the building was remodeled, turned into a virtual fortress with concrete two inches thick. But the architects recognized the importance of the art deco design and were careful to protect it. Damage from Hurricane Katrina led to the decision to restore the terminal to its original Depression-era look. (Post)

-- Who will land a 10-year food concession contract at Florida’s Pensacola International Airport? The city council decided to punt on the issue during the week and take more time to consider the options. On one side is a group that wants to bring five national brands to the airport, and on the other a team that wants local eateries represented. (Post)

-- The chief of naval personnel visited Naval Education and Training Command's tenant commands at Naval Air Station Pensacola, Fla., during the week. It was Vice Adm. William F. Moran's first visit to Pensacola as CNP. (Post)

Economic development
The 2013 Gulf Power Economic Symposium will be held Monday and Tuesday in Destin, Fla. The topic is “Building the Future.” On the agenda are talks about Airbus, which is building an assembly line in Mobile, Ala., creating a culture of innovation, the role of the state in economic development, Northwest Florida talent development initiatives and a range of other topics. (Post)

Next month a city long known as one of the nation’s premiere aerospace and defense centers will host the third aerospace summit of the four-state Aerospace Alliance. The agenda includes discussions about unmanned aerial systems, a session on composites manufacturing, commercial space programs and the Airbus final assembly line. (Post)

Speaking of economic development, Florida's Great Northwest, a regional economic development group representing 16 counties, has launched an 18-month strategy to market the Panhandle to aerospace companies. It includes a postcard campaign, a promotional video and attendance at industry events. (Post)

Changes to the U.S. space-object tracking network, adopted to replace the recently shuttered Air Force Space Surveillance System, appears to be working. That’s what Gen. William Shelton, commander of Air Force Space Command, said at a conference in Hawaii.

The Air Force shut down Space Fence, a line of radars stretching across the southern United States, and modified operating modes for some of its other space tracking assets, specifically the Perimeter Acquisition Radar Characterization System at Cavalier Air Force Station in North Dakota and the space surveillance radar at Eglin Air Force Base, Fla. It appears to be working out. Shelton said that at Eglin there was one day during which the number of observations of space objects doubled. (Post)

-- Lockheed Martin Space Systems Co., Sunnyvale, Calif., was awarded a $96.3 million modification o an existing contract for Space Based Infrared Systems contractor logistics support. Work is expected to be completed on Sept. 30, 2014. Portions of the work on the A2100-based SBIRS satellites is done at Stennis Space Center, Miss. (Post)

Contracts - aircraft maintenance
Five contracts for military aircraft support were awarded during the week. Four of them were awarded to L-3 Communications Vertex Aerospace of Madison, Miss. One was a $102.6 million modification to an existing contract for logistics support of the T-1A aircraft at Naval Air Station Pensacola, Fla., Columbus Air Force Base, Miss., Vance AFB, Okla., Randolph AFB, Texas, and Laughlin AFB, Texas. Work will be performed at Madison and is expected to be completed by Oct. 1, 2014. (Post)

Another award was an $11 million modification to a previously awarded contract to exercise an option for logistics support services in support of the Aircraft Intermediate Maintenance Department at the Naval Air Station Pensacola, Fla., and NAS Corpus Christi, Texas. Half the work will be done in Pensacola and half in Corpus Christi, and is expected to be completed in September 2014. (Post)

The company also was awarded an $8.3 million modification to a previously awarded contract for contractor logistics services in support of T-39N and T-39G aircraft and associated equipment used in student naval flight officer training. Work will be done at Naval Air Station Pensacola, Fla., and is expected to be completed in March 2014. (Post)

The company’s Systems Field Support was awarded a $55.6 million modification to a previously awarded contract to exercise an option for aircraft maintenance and logistical life cycle support for 54 C-12 aircraft for the Navy (48) and Marine Corps (6). Work will be performed in New Orleans, Texas, Maryland, Arizona, North Carolina and South Carolina, Virginia, California, Bahrain, Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, and Japan. (Post)

Rolls-Royce Defense Services Inc., Indianapolis, Ind., was awarded a $50.7 million modification to a previously awarded contract to exercise an option for intermediate and depot level maintenance and related logistics support for about 223 in-service T-45 F405-RR-401 Adour engines. Work will be done at Naval Air Station Pensacola, Fla., NAS Meridian, Miss., NAS Kingsville, Texas, and NAS Patuxent River, Md., and is expected to be completed in March 2014. (Post)

Contracts - munitions
Chemring Ordnance Inc., Perry, Fla., was awarded a $16.1 million contract with options for procurement of the Anti-Personnel Obstacle Breaching System MK 7 MOD 2, National Stock Number 1375-01-508-4975. APOBS is an explosive live charge system that allows safe breaching through complex antipersonnel obstacles, particularly land mines. This procurement is in support of critical U.S. Army, Marine, and Navy requirements. The performance location is Perry, Fla. (Post)

Raytheon Co., Tucson, Ariz., was awarded an $11.2 million contract for 16 GBU-49 telemetry, 17 GBU-50 telemetry and a ten year warranty. Work will be done at Tucson, Ariz., and is expected to be completed by July 1, 2025. The Air Force Life Cycle Management Center/EBDK, Eglin Air Force Base, Fla., is the contracting activity. (Post)

Contracts - other
Raytheon Co., El Segundo, Calif., is being awarded $39 million delivery order against a previously issued basic ordering agreement for the procurement of 15 AN/APG-79 AESA radar systems for the F/A-18 E/F aircraft. Eighty percent of the work will be done in Forest, Miss., and is expected to be completed in November 2015. … Gulf Coast Architectural Group Inc., Pensacola, Fla., was awarded a $30 million contract for complete architect and engineering services in the Naval Facilities Engineering Command (NAVFAC) Southeast area of responsibility. Work for this task order is expected to be completed by March 2014. Work will be performed at various Navy and Marine Corps facilities and other government facilities within the NAVFAC Southeast AOR including, but not limited to Texas (50 percent), Louisiana (25 percent), and Mississippi (25 percent). … Lockheed Martin Mission Systems and Training, Orlando, Fla., was awarded a $29.4 million modification to an existing contract for the fiscal 2014 C-130J aircrew instruction and contractor logistic support for the C-130J Maintenance and Aircrew Training System devices. Keesler Air Force Base, Miss., is one of the locations where work will be done and will be completed on Sept. 30, 2014. … Summit Construction Inc., Santa Rosa Beach, Fla., is being awarded two contracts. One is a $13 million contract to add/alter the commissary at Joint Base Langley-Eustis, Fort Eustis, Va. The contract is for a 594-day period based on the issuance of the notice-to-proceed which is expected in November 2013. The other contract is a $12.9 million contract for the architectural/refrigeration upgrade to the commissary at Joint Base San Antonio-Lackland, Texas. The contract is for a 597-day period based on the issuance of the notice-to-proceed which is expected in November 2013. … Del-Jen Inc., Clarksville, Tenn., was awarded a $26.7 million modification under a previously awarded contract to exercise option two for base operation support services at Naval Air Station Pensacola, Fla., and surrounding areas including Saufley Field, Corry Station, and Bronson Field.

LCS 4: The Navy accepted delivery of the future USS Coronado (LCS 4) during a ceremony at the Austal USA shipyard in Mobile, Ala., Friday. Coronado is the fourth littoral combat ship to deliver to the Navy, and the second of the Independence variant, noted for its trimaran hull. (Post)
Horizon: Horizon Shipbuilding, Inc., Bayou La Batre, Ala., was awarded an $11.1 million contract with options for the Shorty Baird Replacement which is one inland river, all welded steel towboat for the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, Little Rock District. The performance location is Bayou La Batre, Ala. (Post)
Avondale union: Huntington Ingalls Industries said members of the New Orleans Metal Trades Council and the Metal Trades Department approved a new collective bargaining agreement with the company's Avondale subsidiary. (Post)
NSC: Northrop Grumman won a $6.9 million subcontract from Huntington Ingalls Industries to supply the ship integrated control system (SICS) for the Coast Guard's sixth National Security Cutter (NSC). Work will be performed in Charlottesville, Va., Ocean Springs, Miss., and Pascagoula, Miss. (Post)
DDG hangar: The Ingalls Shipbuilding in Gulfport, Miss., has delivered the composite hangar that will be used on the U.S. Navy's second Zumwalt-class guided missile destroyer, Michael Monsoor (DDG 1001). (Post)
Trinity: In Gulfport, Miss., Trinity Yachts has finished a superyacht big enough for a king-size berth complete with his and her baths yet with a shallow draft. (Post)

Saturday, September 21, 2013

Week in review (9/15 to 9/21)

Two space launches with Gulf Coast ties, multiple contracts related to the F-35, Lufthansa picks the XWB engine for a batch of A350s it’s buying; and the end of a joint engine development project of Rolls-Royce and Pratt and Whitney were among the items of interest to the Gulf Coast aerospace region during the week.

There were also at least two items not appearing on the daily news feed that are of interest to this region. One was a story in Florida Today about surplus NASA facilities. It uses the A3 Test Stand at Stennis Space Center, Miss., to lead off the article. To see the story, click here.

The other story was about the F-35, like the ones stationed at Eglin Air Force Base, Fla., home of the joint training center. This story was in Vermont's Burlington Free Press and was about whether F-35s would use afterburners or not during takeoffs at the airport where some of the aircraft may eventually be stationed. There has been an ongoing debate in Vermont about whether the F-35 makes too much noise.

But the most interesting part of this latest story was near the end. Rosanne Greco, a South Burlington City Council member and F-35 critic, said that when a composite plane crashes, fire departments need specialized equipment to deal with the toxic fumes and to extinguish the fire. She's worried officials won't be prepared.

Then came this: "That plane is going to crash," she said. "It's a matter of where it's going to crash. I am really hoping it crashes soon so that we see what happens when it goes down. So we don't witness it if it went down here."

The words "I am really hoping it crashes" almost seemed to jump out from the page. Imagine that. And she's a former Air Force  officer, according to the paper. If you think that kind of comment got by the newspaper's readers, think again. There were hundres of comments, with many stunned she would wish an F-35 to crash. Click here to see the story and the comments.

While on the subject of F-35s, there were plenty of items on that topic during the week.

-- The Netherlands will buy 37 F-35s to replace its fleet of F-16s. The number of jets the Netherlands agreed to buy is much lower than the 85 it had initially sought to purchase, but the purchase has long been anticipated since the Netherlands has participated in the F-35 development. (Post)

-- Landing-gear tires made by Dunlop Aircraft Tyres Ltd. for the Marine Corps version of the F-35 have been wearing out at unacceptable rates when operated as a conventional aircraft. The tires cost about $1,500 apiece, and they are fine when used for short takeoffs and vertical landings. The Pentagon is working with Lockheed Martin and the U.K.-based Dunlop Tyres on a new design. (Post)

-- If you're Lockheed Martin Aeronautics Co. of Fort Worth, Texas, it was a pretty lucrative week. Four contracts with a value of $176.3 million related to the F-35 were awarded during the week. Add another contract related to the F-22 and the company chalked up $201.1 million in contracts. Here are the specifics:

The company was awarded a $99 million modification to a previously awarded advance acquisition contract to provide long lead-time parts, material and components required for the delivery of 19 conventional take off and landing F-35 aircraft for the U.S. Air Force. That was on the 18th. (Post) The company two days later was awarded a $46 million modification to a previously awarded F-35 low rate initial production Lot VI advance acquisition contract. (Post)

Lockheed Martin also was awarded a $20.5 million modification to a previously awarded firm-fixed-price contract for the procurement and delivery of electronic components needed to support F-35 production and sustainment requirements due to current diminishing manufacturing sources. (Post) Also, the company won a $10.8 million modification to a previously awarded cost-plus-incentive-fee contract to provide initial non-prime mission equipment and interim technical support for the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter United States Reprogramming Laboratory. Seventy percent of that work will be done at Eglin Air Force Base, Fla. (Post) The Naval Air Systems Command, Patuxent River, Md., is the contracting authority for all four of those F-35 contracts.

In addition, Lockheed Martin also was awarded a $24.9 million modification to previously awarded contract for technology upgrades to facilitate a new operating system for the F-22 training systems at Tyndall Air Force Base, Fla., as well as Sheppard, Langley, Nellis, Hickam, and Elmendorf Air Force bases. The Air Force Life Cycle Management Center, Wright-Patterson Air Force Base, Ohio, is the contracting activity. Tyndall is where the Air Force trains pilots to fly the Raptor. (Post)

Rolls-Royce and United Technologies Corp. junked a joint venture to develop an engine to power future mid-size aircraft. It was blamed on the current regulatory environment. The partnership between was originally announced in the fall of 2011. In addition to the joint-venture agreement in 2011, Rolls-Royce around the same time agreed to sell its stake in the International Aero Engines venture to Pratt & Whitney. That $1.5 billion deal closed in June 2012. (Post)

-- Lufthansa selected Rolls-Royce Trent XWB engines worth $1.5 billion, including service
support, to power 25 Airbus A350-900 aircraft. Lufthansa has 60 Trent-powered Airbus A380s, A330s and A340s either in service or on order. Rolls-Royce tests engines, including the XWB, at its outdoor test stand at Stennis Space Center, Miss. (Post)

The third in a series of secure U.S. military communications satellites successfully launched during the week aboard a United Launch Alliance Atlas 5 rocket from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station, Fla. The Advanced Extremely High Frequency-3 satellite faces 110 days of orbit-raising operations and 60 days of testing. Lockheed Martin Space Systems of Sunnyvale, Calif., is building six AEHF satellites under a contract worth some $9 billion. Core propulsion system work on the AEHF satellite is done at Stennis Space Center, Miss. (Post)

-- Orbital Science's Cygnus spacecraft took off Wednesday atop an Antares rocket from NASA's Wallops Flight Facility, Va. The commercial spacecraft is heading for the International Space Station with about 1,500 pounds of goods. If everything goes as planned, Cygnus will be the second commercial spacecraft to dock with ISS. SpaceX's Dragon capsule was the first. The Antares AJ26 engines are tested at Stennis Space Center, Miss. (Post)

A Federal Aviation Administration grant of $2.74 million will be used to build a $3 million Eglin Aircraft Rescue and Firefighting station on military land south of the Northwest Florida Regional Airport terminal. Okaloosa County will contribute $154.8 million and the state Department of Transportation will provide $150,000. (Post)

-- In recognition of National POW/MIA Day, Eglin Air Force Base honored America's former prisoners of war and missing in action with a ceremony Friday at the Air Force Armament Museum, outside the main gate. (Post)

L3 Communications Vertex Aerospace LLC, Madison Miss., won an $11.8 million modification to a previously awarded contract for trainer maintenance services. Work will be done at Naval Air Station Pensacola, Fla., and Sheppard Air Force Base, Texas, with an expected completion date of Sept. 30, 2014. … Environmental Management Resources Inc., Lawrence, Kan., was awarded $11.4 million under a previously awarded multiple award construction contract for renovation and repair of Corry "A" School Bachelor Quarters 3707 and 3708 at Corry Station, Naval Air Station Pensacola, Fla. Work is expected to be completed by March 2015. … The Mississippi Department of Rehabilitation Services, Madison, Miss., was awarded a $6.8 million modification to previously awarded contract for full food services at Keesler Air Force Base, Miss., with an expected completion date of Sept. 30, 2017.

LCS modules: Northrop Grumman received a $25.2 million contract from the Navy for additional Littoral Combat Ship Mission Modules. The Independence-class of the LCS is built in Mobile, Ala., by Austal USA. (Post)

Saturday, September 14, 2013

Week in review (9/8 to 9/14)

The first steel column has been raised at the Airbus assembly line in Mobile, and the company is seeking liaison engineers; Pensacola's airport is putting 350 acres on the table in hopes of luring aerospace companies; the Mobile Airport Authority has a new director of capital projects and improvements; a satellite and launch vehicle with Gulf Coast ties get ready for separate liftoffs this week; and Northrop Grumman's high-altitude unmanned portfolio hits the 100,000-hour milestone -- they were among the stories during the week of interest to the Gulf Coast region.

And, lest I forget, last week a group to which I belong, the Gulf Coast Reporters' League, launched its first quarterly aerospace newletter. You can get the whole quarterly or read any of the four stories by clicking here.

Now here's your week in review:

The first steel column was raised to a vertical position Thursday at the site at Brookley Aeroplex in Mobile, Ala., where Airbus is building a final assembly line. The steel support, rising 100 feet into the air, is the first of many that will form the frame for the final assembly building where the A320 family of aircraft will be assembled. That will begin in 2015, with first deliveries from the facility in 2016. Airbus says the facility will produce between 40 and 50 aircraft per year by 2018. (Post)

Meanwhile, Airbus Americas is seeking liaison engineers for the $600 million aircraft assembly line. Liaison engineers who specialize in installation, structure and systems are needed for the Mobile facility. All three positions require a minimum of 10 months training abroad. All three positions require a minimum of a bachelor’s degree in engineering with a focus on aerospace, electrical, mechanical or aircraft construction. (Post)

Speaking of workers, the expansion of the aerospace industry across the Gulf Coast is creating demand for skilled production workers, and local business and educational leaders say the future has
never been brighter for students interested in aviation careers. Kyle Cook, director of Mobile's Alabama Aviation Center at Brookley, says he tells his incoming students aviation isn't just a job, it's a profession, and that it can take them above a lot of other professions, including some that might surprise them. (Post)

Pensacola International Airport has 350 acres it wants to market to the aerospace community. The airport is the second busiest one in the region, and considering that Airbus is building an assembly line 60 miles away, Airport Director Greg Donovan thinks the timing is right. The Pensacola City Council has approved the land use plan. (Post)

-- Russell L. Stallings has joined the Mobile Airport Authority as director of capital projects and improvements. Stallings brings three decades of construction industry experience to the position. Among other things, he'll coordinate the Airbus construction project and oversee other projects at the Brookley Aeroplex. (Post)

Two launches during the week have a Gulf Coast connection.

The third Advanced Extremely High Frequency satellite built by Lockheed Martin is now encapsulated in its payload fairing. It will lift off Sept. 18 atop an Atlas V from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station, Fla.

The AEHF strategic and tactical satellite communications system works with its predecessor, Milstar, for global coverage. Lockheed Martin will deliver six AEHF satellites and the Mission Control Segment. AEHF-1 and AEHF-2 are both in orbit and AEHF-4 is progressing. Work on the AEHF core propulsion system is done at Stennis Space Center, Miss. (Post) For a background story on the AEHF and other satellite work done in the Gulf Coast region, see pages 4 and 5 of the July 2009 issue of the Alliance Insight.

-- NASA will provide live coverage of the Sept. 17 launch of Orbital Science Corp.'s cargo resupply demonstration mission to the International Space Station. Orbital is the second commercial company to send a mission to the ISS. Space X was the first.

Orbital's Cygnus cargo carrier will be launched aboard Orbital's Antares rocket from the Mid-Atlantic Regional Spaceport at NASA's Wallops Flight Facility. Cygnus will deliver about 1,300 pounds of cargo to the Expedition 37 crew aboard the space station. Rendezvous with the space station is scheduled for Sept. 22. Antares' first-stage is powered by twin AJ26 engines tested at Stennis Space Center, Miss. (Post)

-- Need a massive rocket engine tested without disturbing the neighbors? How about a 7,000-pound part, or miles of piping? NASA's Stennis Space Center, Miss., is doing all that to prepare for the next big project – testing the RS-25 engines that will power the core stage of NASA's next generation Space Launch System. (Post)

Northrop Grumman's portfolio of high-altitude long-endurance unmanned aircraft systems have achieved 100,000 flight hours, more than 88 percent of which were logged by the U.S. Air Force Global Hawk. The remaining hours were flown by the NASA Global Hawks, the German Euro Hawk and the U.S. Navy's Broad Area Maritime Surveillance Demonstrator and, more recently, Triton. (Post)

-- Retired F-16 Fighting Falcons are getting a new lease on life that will let them go out with a bang. About 200 of the planes are being converted into full scale, pilotless aerial targets. They'll help the military gauge the effectiveness of new weapons and perfect the skills of military aviators. And while drones may seem like the newest of the new in some areas, for Tyndall Air Force Base they’re old hat. (Post)

-- If you follow aerospace news, you've probably seen the stories recently about NASA using Global Hawks to check out hurricanes. That's of interest here because, first of all, we're concerned about hurricanes. But also because Global Hawks now are built in part in Moss Point, Miss.

NASA has been using Global Hawk to spy on hurricanes for a few years now. It was first tried in the 2010 hurricane season with the Genesis and Rapid Intensification Process experiment, or GRIP. That program was publicized in the summer of 2009 in a quarterly newsletter called Alliance Insight. A tip of the hat to the forward-thinking economic development officials from South Mississippi who funded that science and technology newsletter for five years. You can see the GRIP story on pages 1 and 2 of the same publication that had the write-up on satellites. Here's the link again.

The Air Force's F-35 is moving toward major operational-training milestones that include adding the new Block 2B advanced software in November that will support an internal weapons system for the release of AIM-120C missiles and GBU-32/31 and GBU-21 bombs.

Block 2B is a big milestone for Eglin Air Force Base, Fla., the center for F-35 training. Once software-system training begins, pilots will add three more sorties to the syllabus along with academic sessions and flight-simulator time.

Also, the Air Force is expecting to stand a new F-35 training squadron in Arizona this fall. The 61st Fighter Squadron is expecting to start flying operations by mid-2014. Luke Air Force Base is expecting 144 jets to eventually be assigned to the new training center. (Story)

Lockheed Martin got two contracts related to the F-35 program. Lockheed Martin Aeronautics Co., Fort Worth, Texas, was awarded a $149 million modification to a previously awarded advance acquisition contract for the redesign and qualification of replacement F-35 Electronic Warfare system components. One percent of the work will be done in Crestview. Other work performance sites are in Orlando, Fla., New Hampshire, Texas, and South Carolina. Eglin Air Force Base, Fla., is home of the F-35 training center. … Lockheed Martin Aeronautics Co. was also awarded a $75.7 million modification to the previously awarded F-35 Low Rate Initial Production Lot VI Advance Acquisition contract. Work will be performed in California, Texas, Florida, Maryland, New Hampshire, New York, New Jersey, and the United Kingdom. … Northrop Grumman Corp., Aerospace Systems Sector, San Diego, Calif., was awarded a $169.9 million modification on a contract action for contract logistics support for the RQ-4 Global Hawk. Global Hawks are built in part in Moss Point, Miss.

Destroyer: Work has begun on the Navy's next Aegis guided missile destroyer,
Ralph Johnson (DDG 114), the 30th Arleigh Burke Class destroyer built by Ingalls
Shipbuilding in Pascagoula, Miss. (Post)

Settlement: Huntington Ingalls Industries agreed to release an insurance claim against FM Global in exchange for a cash payment of $180 million. The claims were related to losses and damages as a result of Hurricane Katrina, which hit the company's shipyards in Pascagoula and Avondale, La., on Aug. 29, 2005. (Post)

Saturday, September 7, 2013

Week in review (9/1 to 9/7)

If you're interested in aerospace activities in the Gulf Coast region, you'll want to take a look at a new quarterly newsletter coming out Tuesday. It's produced by the Gulf Coast Reporters' League, the same team that for three years has produced the annual Gulf Coast Aerospace Corridor book.

The eight-page quarterly is designed to provide detailed stories about the Gulf Coast aerospace region during the period between the annuals. It also supplements the daily aerospace news digest and this weekly column.

Like the book, the newsletter is funded by underwriters who believe the stories are important and need to be told. That backing allows us to make the newsletter available free of charge to the public, without advertisements.

A PDF of the newsletter will be posted on the website

Each of the stories, the first issue has four, also will be summarized in the daily aerospace digest, with a link to the separate story. So even if you forget about the newsletter, you'll still see the stories if you look at the daily aerospace news digest.

So what do we have in the first issue? Well there's a story on an airport in this region making a lot of land available for aerospace companies. There's also a story that shows how lucrative the aerospace field can be, even without a college degree. You'll also learn about the military drones that have been in this region since the 50s. Finally, there's a story about some unusual work at Stennis Space Center to prepare for the testing of the next generation of rocket engines.

We hope you enjoy the newsletter.

Now for the week in review:

Delta Air Lines plans to buy 40 Airbus jetliners between 2015 and 2017, and 30 of those planes will be A321 single aisle jetliners. Many of those planes will come off the $600 million assembly line being built at Brookley Aeroplex in Mobile, Ala.

The airline chose CFM56-5B engines from CFM International to power its A321s. CFM International is a joint venture between GE Aviation of the U.S. and Snecma, a division of Safran of France. Safran, of course, has an engineering center in Mobile, and GE Aviation has plants in Hattiesburg, Miss., and Auburn, Ala.

With the merger of Delta and Northwest Airlines, the Delta fleet includes 126 A320 aircraft. But Delta won’t be the first to get a Mobile-assembled jets. That honor will go to Jet Blue, which is slated to get an A321 in the fall of 2016. (Post)

-- The FOIA Group Inc. threatens to take legal action against the Mobile Airport Authority for denying a Freedom of Information Act request pertaining to that Airbus assembly line being built at Brookley. Roger Wehner, the authority's executive director, said the request was denied to protect the proprietary interests of current and future Brookley tenants, not just Airbus. (Post)

-- Five counties teamed up to form the Gulf Coast Aerospace Coalition in a bid to attract aerospace companies to Northwest Florida. The group includes Escambia, Santa Rosa, Okaloosa, Walton and Bay counties. Members of the group will go to Hamburg, Germany, to see an Airbus plant and to attend the Global Aerospace Supply Chain Conference in Hamburg Dec. 4-5. There also will be a Northwest Florida Leadership Forum in Hamburg Dec. 8-11. (Post)

-- The Aerospace Alliance, a non-profit that promotes the aerospace activities in Alabama, Florida, Louisiana and Mississippi, is holding its third annual summit in Huntsville, Ala., in October. The first summit was held in Sandestin, Fla., and the one last year was in New Orleans. Huntsville is one of the premiere aerospace regions in the country. The summit is Oct. 17 and 18 at the Von Braun Center. The agenda calls for a UAV update, a session on composites manufacturing, commercial space and an update on the Airbus project in Mobile.

If you've never been to Huntsville, this may be a great opportunity to see an area that's home to NASA's Marshall Space Flight Center and the Army's missile program. You'll want to make sure you take a look at Cummings Research Park, one of the nation's largest.

For more information or to register, click here.

A series of hotfire tests on the next generation J-2X rocket engine came to an end during the week at Stennis Space Center, Miss. The gimbal test of J-2X No. 10002 was a 330-second test fire on the A-1 test stand. Now NASA has its sights on testing the RS-25. Both engines will be used with NASA's Space Launch System. The J-2X will be used on the upper stage and the RS-25 on the core stage. (Post)

-- The Lockheed Martin A2100 communications satellite series reached a milestone by
chalking up over 400 cumulative years of in-orbit operations. The orbiting fleet consists of 45 commercial and U.S. government communication satellites equipped with over 1,500 transponders transmitting data, video and audio for operators worldwide.

The A2100 satellite is also the platform for communications programs for the U.S. government, including the Advanced Extremely High Frequency and Mobile User Objective System. Core propulsion system work on the A2100 is done at Stennis Space Center, Miss. (Post)

The Euro Hawk unmanned aircraft system set an endurance record last month when it flew for 25.3 hours in European airspace. Built by Northrop Grumman, operating through its subsidiary Northrop Grumman ISS International Inc. and Cassidian, the UAS climbed to 58,600 feet over Manching Air Base, Germany. Europ Hawk has completed 19 flights and about 200 flight hours. Euro Hawks were built in part in Moss Point, Miss. (Post)

-- The Navy awarded a $10 million contract to Northrop Grumman for additional operations and maintenance service for its Broad Area Maritime Surveillance Demonstrator. The unmanned aircraft, a Global Hawk, has been used by the Navy since 2009. The contract increases the operational tempo of the two demonstrator aircraft, from nine operations a month to 15. The follow-up aircraft is the MQ-4C Triton, and more than 60 will be purchased by the Navy. The BAMS and Triton are being built in part in Moss Point, Miss. (Post)

Closure: Ingalls is closing its Composite Center of Excellence in Gulfport, Miss. The Navy recently decided to use steel rather than composite structures for the reduced number of Zumwalt-class ships. The facility will close by May 2014. (Post)
Lab: The University of New Orleans received $58,000 in donations so it can upgrade its ship-design computer laboratory. The lab is part of UNO's School of Naval Architecture and Marine Engineering. (Post)
LCS: The Office of Secretary of Defense reportedly supports limiting the number of Littoral Combat Ship purchases to 24, way below the Navy’s goal of 52 ships. The Independence class versions of the ships are built by Austal USA in Mobile, Ala. (Post)