Saturday, March 29, 2014

Week in review (3/23 to 3/29)

If you expect to attract aerospace companies, one important part is having a growing, vibrant population. And the most recent figures from the U.S. Census Bureau indicate that's the case for the Interstate 10 aerospace corridor.

Two metropolitan areas from the region were among the fastest growing in the nation between 2012 and 2013. They're Alabama's Daphne-Fairhope-Foley MSA and Florida's Crestview-Fort Walton Beach-Destin MSA. They're 9th and 15th fastest growing, respectively. The Daphne MSA is all of Baldwin County, while the Crestview MSA is Okaloosa and Walton counties. (Post)

Additionally, four counties in the aerospace region were among the 100 fastest growing counties in the nation between 2012 and 2013. In Louisiana, St. Bernard Parish was 6th fastest growing, while Florida's Walton County was 16th, Baldwin County, Ala., was 55th and Orleans Parish was 72nd.

Taking a longer view, between 2010 and 2013 six counties in the aerospace region were among the 100 fastest growing: St. Bernard Parish, No. 2; Orleans Parish, No. 26; Walton County, No. 49; Baldwin County, No. 68; Okaloosa County (Fla.), No. 70; and Santa Rosa (Fla.), No. 98. (Post)

Aerospace industry manufacturers and suppliers will be in Mobile next week for the two-day SpeedNews Aerospace Manufacturing Conference at the Battle House Renaissance. It begins Tuesday. Delegates will be able to tour area aerospace facilities, including UTC Aerospace in Foley, ST Aerospace at the Mobile Aeroplex and the Airbus final assembly line under construction at the Aeroplex. (Post)

Airbus during the week inked a new 10-year deal with China allowing Airbus to continue to assemble A320s at Tianjin until 2025. A deal was also signed to have China co-produce 1,000 French EC-175 helicopters over 20 years with Airbus Group's helicopter division and to co-operate on turbo-prop engines with France's Safran.

In addition to the aircraft work, the agreement signed in Paris also calls for China’s state-owned purchasing agency to get 70 planes, including 27 long-haul A330s and 43 single-aisle A320 family aircraft. (Post)

The orders are significant of course, but the ties being formed with China will have a long-term impact on Airbus. I wrote last weekend that Airbus and China are talking about a cabin completion plant in China for A330s. Smart move for Airbus. China within 20 years will supplant the U.S. as the single biggest market for Airbus.

-- ANA Holding Inc. of Japan has made a 70-plane purchase that included 40 long-haul models from Boeing and 30 narrow-body jets from Airbus. It’s the largest in the Japanese carrier’s history. (Post)

In addition to the ANA deal, Tiger Airways, the budget carrier partly owned by Singapore Airlines, ordered 37 Airbus jetliners, canceling some existing orders as it opts for more fuel-efficient models. The order for single-aisle A320neo planes is valued at $3.8 billion and is for delivery between 2018 and 2025. (Post)

Another tenant of the Mobile Aeroplex, Continental Motors, is partnering with ASI Innovation of Reims, France, to bring the 14-passenger Reims-Cessna F406 Caravan II back into production.

They acquired from insolvency the type certificate, inventory and manufacturing rights from Reims Aviation of France. The aircraft, first produced in 1983, can fill multiple roles, including passenger, cargo and mixed use applications. Once production resumes, buyers can equip their F406 with a Pratt & Whitney PT6 or a Continental Motors piston engine.

Continental Motors is a subsidiary of AVIC International Holding Co. of Beijing, China. Continental Motors has been powering aircraft for more than 80 years and now encompasses Continental Motors, Inc., Mobile, Continental Motors Beijing, Technify Motors GmbH, Germany, as well as Mattituck Services Inc. and Zulu Flight Training in Alabama. (Post)

Sierra Nevada and Lockheed Martin showed off the work being done on the Dream Chaser crew vehicle at Michoud Assembly Facility in New Orleans. MAF is where a majority of the composite parts, including cabin support structures and wings, is being manufactured. Final assembly will be in Fort Worth, Texas.

Dream Chaser, designed to carry a crew of seven along with cargo to the International Space Station, looks like a small Space Shuttle. Its first unmanned flight is scheduled for 2016.

At MAF, Lockheed Martin is also working on NASA’s Orion space capsule. Fifteen Lockheed Martin workers are involved in Dream Chaser, 124 in Orion and another 20 or involved in building two massive liquefied natural gas tanks. (Post)

-- In Mississippi, Stennis Space Center, NASA's premiere rocket engine test facility, launched a program during the week to beam engine tests into some schools in Mississippi and Louisiana. The program will use technology that will allow students to watch a live stream of engine testing at Stennis, including the J-2X, an engine that's part of NASA's Space Launch System program. Through the virtual visit, NASA scientists and engineers will also appear on the screen to answer student's questions. (Post)

The Defense Department is considering approving the first trans-Atlantic flight of the F-35 fighter jet in July when warplane is expected to take part in two international air shows near London. Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel is close to a decision that would allow two or three F-35s to fly at the Royal International Air Tattoo, an annual military air show, and the Farnborough air show.

Britain, which plans to buy 138 F-35s in coming years, asked for the jet's participation to help showcase the increasing maturity of the new radar-evading plane. Participating in the international air shows will allow the F-35 program to carry out additional training and learn how the plane's logistics, maintenance, aerial refueling, and security systems work overseas.

Lockheed is the main contractor, with Northrop Grumman and Britain's BAE Systems the biggest suppliers. Pratt and Whitney builds the engine and Rolls Royce Group builds the lift fan that enables the B-model of the F-35 to land like a helicopter. Eglin Air Force Base, Fla., is home of the F-35 training center. (Post)

-- South Korea expects to pay around $6.79 billion for 40 Lockheed Martin F-35 fighters, two sources with knowledge of the matter said. South Korea also confirmed plans to buy four Northrop Grumman Global Hawk unmanned aircraft to monitor North Korea. The drones will be delivered starting 2018, one of the sources said. Global Hawks are built in part in Moss Point, Miss. (Post)

-- Several contracts were awarded during the week for work on the F-35.

Lockheed Martin Corp., Fort Worth, Texas, was awarded a $698 million contract to procure long lead parts, materials and components in support of 57 Low Rate Initial Production Lot IX F-35 fighters, including: 26 F-35A Conventional Takeoff and Landing (CTOL) aircraft for the Air Force; six F-35B Short Takeoff Vertical Landing (STOVL) aircraft for the Marine Corps; two F-35C Carrier Variant aircraft for the Navy; six F-35A CTOL aircraft for the government of Norway; one F-35A CTOL for the government of Italy; seven F-35A CTOL aircraft for the government of Israel; two CTOL aircraft for the government of Japan; six F-35B STOVL for the United Kingdom, and one F-35B STOVL aircraft for the government of Italy. (Post)

Lockheed Aeronautics Co., Fort Worth, was awarded a $52.1 million modification to a previously awarded contract to execute phase 3 of the F-35 Autonomics Logistics Information System (ALIS) Standard Operating Unit Version 2 (SOUv2) capability development effort. Phase 3 includes integration of the SOUv2 with the ALIS sustainment system and the F-35 air system. (Post)

In addition, Pratt and Whitney Military Engines, East Hartford, Conn., was awarded a $10.2 million modification to a previously awarded advance acquisition contract for long-lead components, parts and materials associated with the low rate initial production Lot VIII of eight F135 conventional take off and landing propulsion systems for the governments of Japan (6) and Israel (2). (Post)

Northrop Grumman and the U.S. Navy successfully completed the first major milestone of the Triton unmanned aircraft system flight test program, clearing the aircraft to fly at various altitudes, speeds and weights. During the test program, known as initial envelope expansion, the team validated more than 568 test points. The flights took place at the company's manufacturing facility in Palmdale, Calif.

The Navy plans to build 68 Triton UAS and they will be used with the manned P-8 Poseidon maritime patrol aircraft to conduct persistent intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance missions across vast ocean and coastal regions. Triton is made in part in Moss Point, Miss. (Post)

Meanwhile, Guam MACC Builders A Joint Venture, Honolulu, Hawaii, was awarded $45.5 million task order under a previously awarded multiple award construction contract for the design and construction of a high bay maintenance hangar to support forward operations and maintenance functions for the Unmanned Aircraft System MQ-4C (Triton) Broad Area Maritime Surveillance platform at Andersen Air Force Base, Guam.

Work will be done in Yigo, Guam, and is expected to be completed by April 2016. The Naval Facilities Engineering Command, Pacific, Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam, Hawaii, is the contracting activity. (Post)

Fort Rucker, Ala., stands to gain missions should there be another round of base consolidations and closure. That’s according to Rod Wolfe, a retired brigadier general who is a member of Friends of Fort Rucker.

Wolfe, who also serves on Alabama’s Military Stability Commission, points out that the base has an array of assets that could allow it to benefit from the next Base Realignment and Closure round. It would require millions of dollars to relocate the military’s largest helicopter training facility elsewhere, he said. In addition, Fort Rucker has about 58,000 acres of unused space. (Post)

-- Camp Shelby Joint Forces Training Center south of Hattiesburg, Miss., along with the state port at Gulfport, want to considered as a depot for the return, redeployment and disposal of military equipment from Afghanistan. The National Center for Freight and Infrastructure Research and Education at the University of Wisconsin-Madison signed an agreement with Camp Shelby Joint Training Center to help military planners understand the capabilities after researchers assessed the logistics potential and cost savings.

The Defense Department will spend $7 billion to ship nearly 750,000 pieces of equipment worth $36 billion as combat operations come to an end in 2014. Camp Shelby is 135,000 acres and has been used as a staging area to mobilize and demobilize troops. In addition, South Mississippi is home of the Naval Construction Battalion Center Gulfport, a “readiness center” that stores and ships equipment worldwide. The base is near an airport, seaport, two interstates and rail systems. (Post)

-- More than 50 organizations nationwide gathered on the Eglin Air Force Base, Fla., range March 3 through 14 for a cost-shared, data collection event known as Sensor Week. They came to test their electro-optical, infrared and radio frequency sensors and equipment against representative targets.

Customers come to Sensor Week to measure seeker/sensor data using their equipment on various scenarios such as ground threat vehicles or improvised explosive device scenarios. Customers get realistic scenarios to test sensors and tactics, including maritime operations in local waters, ground-based transport and attack maneuvers and up to 10 daily air operations using 15 aircraft types. (Post)

-- The Blue Angels flight demonstration team are back home at Naval Air Station Pensacola, Fla., from their winter home in California. The team have a full show schedule, including a July show before the hometown crowd at Pensacola Beach. Last year the air show season was barely underway when sequestration grounded the demonstration team. (Post)

Airport Authority board members halted plans for a $17 million federally approved crosswind runway at Northwest Florida Beaches International Airport (ECP), citing financial restraints. The crosswind runway at the airport near Panama City, Fla., would provide better wind coverage for smaller aircraft. The airport’s current runway doesn’t meet Federal Aviation Administration’s (FAA) wind coverage requirement for smaller general aviation aircraft. (Post)

Kaman Precision Products Inc., Orlando, Fla., was awarded a $41.6 million modification to a contract for Lot 11 production of Joint Programmable Fuze systems. The contract modification provides for the exercise of an option for an additional quantity of 10,001 state-of-the-art fuze systems being produced under the basic contract. Air Force Life Cycle Management Center/EBDK, Eglin Air Force Base, Fla., is the contracting activity. … Cubic Defense Applications Inc., San Diego, Calif., was awarded a $6.9 million contract for the procurement of P5 Combat Training System Depot follow-on CLS. The P5CTS consists of the airborne subsystem, or "pod," and the ground subsystem. The location of performance is San Diego, Calif., for the ground subsystem and Fort Walton Beach, Fla., for the airborne subsystem. The work is expected to be complete by March 5, 2015. Air Force Life Cycle Management Center/EBYK, Eglin Air Force Base, Fla., is the contracting activity. … Rolls-Royce Corp., Indianapolis, Ind., was awarded a $107 million contract action to provide intermediate, depot level maintenance and related logistics support for about 223 in-service T-45 F405-RR-401 Adour engines. Work will be performed 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 2015. … L-3 Communications Vertex Aerospace LLC, Madison, Miss., was awarded a $58.5 million contract to provide logistics services and materials for organizational, intermediate, and depot level maintenance required to support T45TS aircraft based at Naval Air Station Pensacola, Fla., NAS Meridian, Miss.; and NAS Kingsville, Texas. This requirement also includes the support and maintenance of the T-45 aircraft at all operational sites, numerous outlying fields, and various detachment sites. Work is expected to be completed in July 2014. … Companies in Texas, Colorado, Oklahoma, Virginia, and Maryland were awarded nine-month task order bridge contracts to continue extending physician, allied health, nursing, technologist, technician and assistant services currently being provided in support of the Naval Hospital Jacksonville, Fla.; Naval Health Clinic Pensacola, Fla.; Naval Health Clinic Corpus Christi, Texas, and their affiliated clinics within Florida, Georgia, Indiana, Kansas, Louisiana, Mississippi, Tennessee and Texas. Work will be performed in Jacksonville, Fla. (46 percent); Pensacola, Fla. (44 percent); Corpus Christi, Texas (10 percent) and affiliated clinics within Florida, Georgia, Indiana, Kansas, Louisiana, Mississippi, Tennessee and Texas, and work is expected to be completed January 31, 2015.

Signal: Signal International’s ship repair yard in Mobile, Ala., was awarded a $4.5 million contract to repair and drydock the 615-foot-long Navy tanker USNS Lawrence H. Gianella. (Post)

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