Saturday, October 5, 2013

Week in review (9/29 to 10/5)

At this writing, folks from this region are keeping a close eye on the Gulf of Mexico and Tropical Storm Karen. It's weakening but will still cause some problems. Bases moved aircraft or secured them in hangars (post), and at least one airport had plans to close Saturday. (Story)

The storm is just the latest problem to hit. Earlier this month the government went into a partial shutdown. That's meant furloughs for federal workers and much uncertainty for anyone who works for a company that does work for the federal government.

All the events surrounding the 50th anniversary celebration at Pensacola's National Naval Aviation Museum were postponed to a date yet to be determined. The museum itself is also closed until further notice due to the furlough of museum employees. (Post)

The shutdown is even having an impact on this feed. The Pentagon is still awarding contracts, but it's not publicly announcing those awards because of the shutdown Oct. 1. It won't resume contract announcements until the shutdown ends, and when it does the plan is to catch up with one big announcement.

So, thanks Washington for the extra work. As it is, the list can be very long. The catch-up announcement will likely be a monster.

The military's awards notices, which reveal competitive and sometimes market-moving information, are closely followed by contractors, attorneys, investors and the media, including our daily news digest. And the number of items posted is significant. Out of 77 news briefs that were posted on the daily feed in September, 32 were contracts awarded by the Pentagon. Some were for local companies, some for projects that have ties to the Gulf Coast, like the F-35.

But before the shutdown, three contracts of interest to the Gulf Coast region were awarded and publicly announced. Two of those awards, both for military aircraft maintenance, went to L-3 Communications Vertex Aerospace LLC of Madison, Miss.

Regular readers will remember that last week's column mentioned four contracts that were awarded to L-3 Vertex for aircraft maintenance work, one worth $102.6 million and much of the work being done in this region.

During the past week, L-3 Vertex was awarded a $65 million modification to a previously awarded contract to exercise an option for additional logistics services and materials for organizational, intermediate, and depot level maintenance required to support 36 T-45A and 168 T-45C aircraft based at Naval Air Station Pensacola, Fla., NAS Meridian, Miss., NAS Kingsville, Texas; and Patuxent River, Md. Most of the work will be done in Kingsville, Texas. But 36 percent will be done in Meridian and 6 percent in Pensacola. (Post)

The company was also awarded an $11 million modification to exercise option four of the existing contract for helicopter maintenance at Kirtland Air Force Base, N.M. That work is expected to be completed by Sept. 30, 2014. (Post)

In addition, a Shalimar, Fla., company, CCI Solutions LLC, was awarded an $11.6 million contract with options to repair airfield and roadway pavements. The work will be done at Homestead Army Reserve Base, Fla. The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Mobile District, Mobile, Ala., is the contracting activity. (Post)

Economic development
Alabama's participation in the Paris Air Show last summer cost $86,609, according to the Alabama Department of Commerce. The total expense of the June trip, including a booth, travel, lodging and meals for seven people, was $222,015. But it was offset by $135,406 in income from sponsors, reception passes and money from communities and companies who participated. (Post)

-- The two-day 17th annual Gulf Power Economic Symposium attracted a record 600 movers and shakers from Northwest Florida to the Sandestin Resort in Destin Monday and Tuesday. Workforce training was the most consistent theme, but the vision of a region on the cusp of change was the most compelling message. Much of the change was attributed to the Airbus’ A320 assembly plant being built in Mobile, Ala. (Post)

-- Some 400 Northwest Florida middle school, high school and vocational students participated in tours of manufacturing operations in order to see first-hand that manufacturing today is nothing like it was in the past. It was all part of National Manufacturing Day. The Northwest Florida Manufacturers Council hosted the tours at 11 facilities. (Story)

For a background story on manufacturing careers and training, take a look at a story that appeared in in September issue of the Gulf Coast Aerospace Corridor Quarterly. For a story on the creation of the manufacturers council, click here.

The Navy's version of the F-35 fighter was officially rolled out during a ceremony at Eglin Air Force Base, Fla., during the week. The long-planned ceremony went on despite a shutdown of the federal government. Hundreds of guests attended in a hangar ceremony hosted by Strike Fighter Squadron 101. (Post)

Meanwhile, the Pentagon Inspector General found hundreds of flaws in the way defense contractors produced the F-35 fighter jet, flaws that led to a higher price tag for the fifth-generation fighter. The IG's 126-page report describes 719 "issues" with the jet's primary manufacturer, Lockheed Martin, and five other major contractors.

It also listed failures of the F-35 Joint Program Office for not ensuring the prime and subcontractors were applying rigor to design, manufacturing, and quality assurance." Both Lockheed Martin and the JPO said the report was old news and that the issues have been mostly addressed. (Post)

-- The Japanese and U.S. government announced a sweeping defense cooperation effort between the two countries that involves F-35 fighters, new ballistic missile radars, and increased bilateral cyber and IRS programs. In addition, several U.S.-operated Global Hawk unmanned surveillance aircraft will be based on Japanese soil beginning in 2014 at U.S. bases. Global Hawks are built in part in Moss Point, Miss. (Post)

Orbital Science's Cygnus cargo spacecraft made history during the week when it successfully docked with the International Space Station. Cygnus was launched by Orbital's Antares rocket Sept. 18 from NASA's Wallops Flight Facility. Cygnus is the second commercial spacecraft to dock with ISS. The SpaceX Dragon capsule was the first. The Antares engines were tested at Stennis Space Center, Miss. (Post)

-- Stennis Space Center, it provided a $74,523 grant to a Loyola University New Orleans physics professor Patrick Garrity to do beta testing of his new invention. If his work proves successful, smart phones could one day be charged in a pocket using only body heat. Even sooner, rocket sensors needed to monitor an engine's health could use sensors powered solely by the heat generated from the rocket. (Post)

In Mississippi, Picayune Municipal Airport hopes to expand its runway so it can handle larger planes for the city north of Stennis Space Center. Director of Operations Andy Greenwood asked the council to approve a letter to SSC to expand the airport runway further into the buffer zone around NASA's primary rocket engine testing facility. The request is to extend the runway south by 2,000 feet to 7,000 feet. (Post)

-- Pilot error has been identified as the primary cause of the Feb. 28, 2012 helicopter crash that killed four crewmembers. The U.S. Coast Guard said there also were contributing factors, and said investigators concluded there was no misconduct involving the crash of the MH-65C helicopter. (Post)

Signal: Signal International, headquartered in Mobile, Ala., said new contract awards over the past month have prompted the company to hire 500 workers at its Pascagoula, Miss., yard this year. (Post)
BAE Systems: BAE Systems' Mobile, Ala., shipyard was chosen to build a subsea support vessel for Oceaneering International Inc., a gas and oil field engineering company. BAE Systems shipyards in Mobile and Jacksonville, Fla., employ about 1,300. (Post)
Signet: Signet Shipbuilding & Repair in Pascagoula, Miss., purchased a heavy lift crane for new construction and repair. (Post)
Lockheed: Lockheed Martin Missiles and Fire Control, Orlando, Fla., was awarded a $23.1 million modification to a previously awarded contract for Undersea Warfare Product Support across USW Systems. Three percent of the work will be done in Pascagoula, Miss. (Post)

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