Saturday, October 12, 2013

Week in review (10/6 to 10/12)

This just seems to be the year for Airbus.

The company, which is building an A320 final assembly line in Mobile, Ala., beat its full-year goal of selling 1,000 planes in just the first nine months of 2013. And now it's on track for selling more than 1,200 aircraft in 2013. It was just in July that Airbus sales chief John Leahy raised the expected sales figure from 800 to 1,000. (Post)

It's only natural that Airbus sales would be of high interest to Mobile. In addition to the final assembly line, it's also home to an engineering center. But one sales announcement during the week was also of interest to NASA's Stennis Space Center, Miss.

Japan Airlines during the week announced a $9.5 billion order for 31 Airbus A350 XWBs, along with options for an additional 25 aircraft. Those JAL planes, 18 A350-900 and 13 A350-1000 aircraft, will be powered by Rolls-Royce Trent XWB engines. Those huge engines are tested at SSC at Rolls-Royce's outdoor test stand, which has been in operation in South Mississippi since 2007 and is the first RR test stand outside the United Kingdom. (Post)

That Rolls-Royce presence is growing. On Wednesday Rolls-Royce will officially open its second jet engine test stand at the outdoor facility. The test stand represents a $50 million investment. In addition to marking the official opening, Rolls-Royce will donate a Trent 1000 engine to Infinity Science Center, just outside SSC. The engine, which was tested at SSC, will serve as a centerpiece for aviation engineering and STEM career education.(Post)

The fifth-generation F-35fighter surpassed 10,000 flight hours last month, with more than half those hours accumulated in the past 11 months. The milestone was set by aircraft operating at Eglin Air Force Base, Fla., home of the F-35 training center, Marine Corps Air Station Yuma, Ariz., Edwards AFB, Calif., Naval Air Station Patuxent River, Md., and Nellis AFB, Nev.

Meanwhile, the first F-35 for Australia, a conventional takeoff and landing variant, is in production in Texas. AU-1 began the process where major components of the aircraft are joined together. Two F-35s for Australia are now in production and will be delivered to the Royal Australian Air Force next year. (Post)

-- Two small cracks were found in one of four load-bearing wing bulkheads in an F-35B in August during airframe durability ground tests. Airframes are designed to last through 8,000 flight hours, and the cracks were found after the plane accumulated 9,400 hours. The Pentagon described the cracks as minor. The F-35B short-takeoff and vertical landing variant will be flown by Marines, the U.K., and Italy. (Post)

-- The Pentagon is going with the original team of Lockheed Martin, Rockwell Collins and Elbit Systems for the F-35 helmet, dropping an alternative design from BAE Systems. The helmet provides a 360-degree digital view, letting a pilot “look” through the cockpit floor and walls. In addition, data is projected directly onto the visor of the pilot, providing enhanced situational awareness. (Post)

The Municipal Airport at DeFuniak Springs, Fla., broke ground during the week for one of several projects to keep up with the community's growth. Construction will begin on 10 T-hangars, enclosed protective structures, to house an additional 20 planes. Several more hangars are expected in the near future. The airport runway is 4,146 feet long and officials are planning an extension that will make it at least 5,000 feet long. (Post)

In Florida, most of the civilians furloughed at Eglin Air Force Base and Hurlburt Field went back to work after Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel ordered the end of furloughs for almost all of the 350,000 defense department civilians who had been sent home. Over 3,750 employees from Eglin and Hurlburt were furloughed. (Post)

But the shutdown continues to cause problems. The Air Force Armament Museum just outside Eglin Air Force Base, Fla., closed early in the week. That followed a review of guidance from both the Air Force and the Department of Defense. The National Naval Aviation in Pensacola, Fla., is also closed during the government shutdown. (Post)

Hero awarded
The Distinguished Flying Cross was presented during the week to Capt. John D. Easton during a ceremony at Eglin Air Force Base, Fla. Easton is assigned to the 86th Fighter Weapon Squadron and was honored for achievement while participating in aerial flight to successfully strike a strategic surface-to-air missile site in Libya. (Post)

Zumwalt: The christening of the future USS Zumwalt, slated for Oct. 19, has been postponed because of the government shutdown. The ship was built by Bath Iron Works in Bath, Maine, but large composite structures on the ship were fabricated in Gulfport, Miss., by Ingalls Shipbuilding. (Post)
LPD 25: The amphibious transport dock Somerset returned to the Ingalls Avondale, La., facility from successful U.S. Navy acceptance sea trials last month. (Post)
NSC: Ingalls Shipbuilding in Pascagoula, Miss., has started fabrication on the U.S. Coast Guard's sixth National Security Cutter, Munro. (Post)

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