Saturday, October 19, 2013

Week in review (10/13 to 10/19)

When the Aerospace Alliance was established in 2009, the most pressing goal was to get behind Mobile, Ala., and its effort to become home of an Air Force tanker manufacturing center. I recall thinking at the time that the group wouldn't last once a decision was made.

Well the tanker project went to Boeing and Washington state, but the Aerospace Alliance didn't go away. Here it is 2013, and the group that promotes aerospace activities in Alabama, Florida, Louisiana and Mississippi hosted its third aerospace summit, this time in Huntsville, Ala.

More than 200 people showed up at the Von Braun Center for the two-day fall summit. It included discussions on commercial space activities and unmanned aerial systems, and there was an update on Airbus’ $600 million final assembly line being built in Mobile.

Greg Canfield, secretary of the Alabama Department of Commerce, pointed out the unusual nature of the Aerospace Alliance during his opening remarks. He said you don’t normally find states that compete with one another being engaged in a group where they collaborate like this.

"The aviation and aerospace sectors are critically important to the economies of these four states," Canfield said. Indeed, the four states are home to major NASA facilities, military aviation bases and operations of every major aerospace and defense company in the nation.

Facilities in the four states build, test and launch NASA vehicles, and are heavily involved in commercial and military space activities. It's where pilots are trained to fly and maintain the nation's most sophisticated aircraft in the military's inventory, and where both Boeing and Airbus are or will be building passenger jets. There are multiple aerospace clusters in the four states, including Huntsville, the Space Coast and the Gulf Coast I-10 corridor.

OK, while I'm on the subject of gatherings, Florida airports from Pensacola to Tallahassee next week will team up at a trade show in a single exhibit as part of a new marketing strategy to draw aerospace companies to the Panhandle.

The National Business Aviation Association’s Business Aviation Convention and Exhibition in Las Vegas is Tuesday and Wednesday, and it’s one of the largest trade shows in the country.

Pensacola International Airport, Okaloosa County Airports, Northwest Florida Beaches International Airport and Tallahassee Regional Airport will be working together under the Florida's Great Northwest banner. It's a first for the airports. (Post)

The Dutch air force will begin training pilots and ground personnel in the F-35A later this month at Eglin Air Force Base, Fla. Royal Netherlands Air Force personnel will initially begin with class-room training, then pilots and maintenance personnel will move to the tarmac in December to begin flying the F-35A and hands-on mechanical training. (Post)

-- Less than two weeks after the F-22's 10-year anniversary of arriving at Tyndall Air Force Base, Fla., Team Tyndall achieved the 25,000th F-22 sortie during a 43rd Fighter Squadron Basic Course training mission Oct. 7. The 43rd FS is the only squadron in the world that trains and develops F-22 pilots. The students learn air-to-air combat techniques during their B-course training by primarily flying sorties against the T-38 Talon from the 325th Training Support Squadron and other fighters replicating adversary aircraft. (Post)

Meanwhile, Tyndall’s new F-22 Raptor squadron was officially named the 95th Fighter Squadron earlier this month. The unit is currently preparing for the transfer of 24 F-22s and more than 1,100 positions to the base.

The additional F-22s bring the total number of the fifth generation fighters to more than 50 at Tyndall. This is the largest contingent of F-22s at one location. Aircraft for the new squadron will start arriving in early 2014.

The squadron has started receiving an average of 50 to 60 personnel per month and will continue to do so for the next several months. The new squadron's arrival, which has been years in the making, will take Tyndall air power directly into a combat role. (Post)

The Navy's X-47B Unmanned Combat Air System demonstrator was named one of Popular Mechanics Magazine's 2013 Breakthrough Award recipients. In July the pilot-less X-47B built by Northrop Grumman landed aboard the USS George H.W. Bush. The magazine listed the jet under awards for innovators who changed the world in 2013. Northrop Grumman builds portions of the unmanned Fire Scout and all variants of the Global Hawk in Moss Point, Miss. (Post)

Boeing and Airbus
The Airbus A320 final assembly line in Mobile, Ala., will be so efficient that when it swings into production in 2015 that one shift will be able to handle four planes per month by working
five days a week with no night work or weekends. That's what Jennifer Ogle, human resources director, said at the Mobile Area Chamber of Commerce’s Women’s Roundtable during the week. (Post)

-- Airbus is poised to win a $5 billion order as Aeroenlaces Nacionales SA, the Mexican airline known as VivaAerobus, expands and upgrades its fleet of Boeing 737s. The deal is for 40 single-aisle A320neos with new engines and 12 of the current A320 models. VivaAerobus, Mexico's fourth-biggest carrier, may announce the transaction as soon as next week. (Post)

-- The French-American Chamber of Commerce, Atlanta chapter, is honoring Airbus during the 9th Annual Crystal Peach Awards luncheon next month at the Georgia Institute of Technology. Airbus Americas Inc. is being recognized for an economic development award. Airbus is building an A320 final assembly line in Mobile, Ala. (Post)

-- That government shutdown that finally ended during the week didn’t hurt Boeing, but did hurt Airbus. Financial Times reported that Airbus had been unable to deliver four jetliners to U.S. customers because the aircraft needed certificates or registrations from the Federal Aviation Administration. But Boeing has been approved by the FAA to inspect and approve several well-established aircraft types for delivery on the government’s behalf. (Post)

Rolls-Royce North America officially opened its second test stand at NASA's John C. Stennis Space Center in Mississippi, an investment of $50 million that will mean 35 new jobs when fully operational. SSC is where NASA and commercial companies test rocket engines, but Rolls-Royce opened its first jetliner engine test stand here in 2007. (Post)

-- Development of the engine designed for fuel-efficient versions of the Airbus A320 and Boeing 737 jet families are running smoothly, according to leaders of CFM International. CFM, a joint venture between GE and Safran, is making the new LEAP engines for the Airbus A320neo, the Boeing 737MAX and the COMAC C919 jet. (Post)

The fixed-wing variant of the Advanced Precision Kill Weapons System laser-guided rocket has wrapped up some successful tests at Eglin Air Force Base, Fla.. Fixed wing APKWS uses a different guidance control system to compensate for the higher altitude and longer range employments of the weapon. During the tests at Eglin, APKWS rockets were fired from various aircraft at different altitudes. (Post)

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