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)