Saturday, April 12, 2014

Week in review (4/6 to 4/12)

An airline changes some Airbus orders; UTC Foley will provide nozzle maintenance for an airline's A320s; the FAA wants to create a UAV center of excellence; the UK will train personnel to use Tritons in preparation for a possible purchase; an airport in Fairhope earns AdvantageSite designation; a grant to Enterprise will help provide infrastructure so an aerospace company can expand; Silver Airways is pulling out of the Hattiesburg airport; a Maryland security group will use facilities at Camp Shelby for training; Eglin's Armament Directorate celebrates a weapon milestone; and the last Holloman F-22 arrives at Tyndall Air Force Base were among the aerospace stories of interest to the Gulf Coast region.

Here's the week in review:

A year after the ground breaking ceremony for Airbus' first A320 family assembly facility to be built in the United States, the plant in Mobile, Ala., is progressing. The main buildings are taking shape and the first workers have started on-the-job training in Germany.

The steelwork on the main building, the Final Assembly Line hangar where the A320 family aircraft will be assembled, started in April 2013 and is nearing completion. In addition, the powerhouse, which will provide utilities, is also nearing completion. The construction work continues with the assembly of the service building, housing the main offices, followed by the building of the logistics center. (Post)

-- American Airlines is changing 30 firm orders for 30 Airbus A320neo jetliners into options, according to an investor update. The planes were scheduled to be delivered in 2021 and 2022 and were part of the company's large order of 260 Airbus narrow-body aircraft announced in 2011. American also said it terminated its existing lease financing arrangements for 62 Airbus A320 that American is scheduled to receive between 2015 and 2017 and instead will the purchase the aircraft.(Post)

-- UTC Aerospace Systems' Aerostructures was chosen by Florida-based Spirit Airlines to provide nozzle maintenance for the Airbus A320 family aircraft in the carrier's fleet. Spirit operates more than 50 A320 family aircraft. The work for the three-year contract will be performed at UTC Aerospace Systems' Alabama Service Center in Foley, Ala.(Post)

The Southeast didn't get one of the six FAA test sites that will help integrate unmanned aerial systems into the national airspace, but now the FAA is looking to establish a center for excellence within the next year.

FAA is looking for government, industry and academic partners for the COE. Areas of interest include air traffic control interoperability, airport ground operations, pilot training and certification, human factors and privacy practices.

The FAA intends to release a draft request for proposal and publicly discuss program requirements in May. The Gulf Coast region has a keen interest in unmanned aerial systems. They are used at several military bases, and Fire Scout and variants of the Global Hawk are built in part in Moss Point, Miss. (Post)

-- Britain's Ministry of Defense is sending a team to train on Northrop Grumman's Triton unmanned system in preparation for a decision next year on whether to re-establish a maritime patrol capability. The government said that four personnel are scheduled to train on the MQ-4C Triton during June and August 2014 at Patuxent River Naval Air Station, Md. The Triton is the U.S. Navy’s version of Global Hawk. It’s in flight test phase ahead of delivery to the U.S. Navy. Tritons are built in part in Moss Point, Miss. (Post)

A 110-acre industrial park next to H. L. Sonny Callahan Airport in Fairhope, Ala., is the fifth Baldwin County site to earn the Alabama AdvantageSite designation. The program is designed to increase the marketability of locations in Alabama. The Fairhope Airport Industrial Park has 75 contiguous developable acres out of 110. It’s located 12 miles south of Interstate 10, next to the municipal airport and its 6,604-foot runway. The area is also the location of the nearly complete Aerospace Training Center. (Post)

-- A $500,000 grant is being awarded to Enterprise to help an aerospace company expand its aviation business. The company is Alabama Aircraft Support, which specializes in the maintenance, repair and overhaul of military and commercial helicopters and small aircraft. The Community Development Block Grant awarded to the city will provide infrastructure enabling the company to expand its business and construct a 64,800-square-foot aircraft maintenance building and hangar. Enterprise is west of Fort Rucker, the Army's helicopter aviation center. (Post)

-- Silver Airways plans to end service at Hattiesburg-Laurel Regional Airport. Airport Executive Director Tom Heanue said he got a call from airline officials Wednesday afternoon to let him know that Silver intended to file 90-day Notice of Termination papers.

Silver stepped in to serve the aiarport when Delta Air Lines said in the summer of 2011 that it was dropping 24 routes in smaller markets across the nation, including Hattiesburg. Silver Airways is a regional carrier based in Fort Lauderdale, Fla. (Post)

A Maryland counterterrorism security training company will conduct specialized training at Mississippi’s Camp Shelby Joint Forces Training Center. ViaGlobal Group of Annapolis signed the agreement after several visits to the Mississippi National Guard installation south of Hattiesburg.

Camp Shelby's facilities include a state-of-the-art urban terrain site and live fire shoot house. The base is 135,000 acres with ranges for Abrams M1 tanks, Bradley Fighting Vehicles, MRAPs and more. There’s also an air-to-ground bombing range and a combat training runway designed for C-17 short-field landing operations. (Post)

-- The Armament Directorate at Eglin Air Force Base, Fla., celebrated a milestone with delivery of the first production lot of Joint Air-to-Surface Standoff Missile Extended Range missiles to Dyess Air Force Base, Texas, last month. The JASSM Program Office at Eglin Air Force Base, working with contractor Lockheed Martin Missile Fire and Control in Orlando Fla., jointly spearheaded the development, testing and fielding of this newest JASSM variant. Seventy percent of the hardware and 90 percent of software are common between the two variants. (Post)

-- Keesler Air Force Base's C-130Js were discussed again during two hearings in Washington. Rep. Steven Palazzo, in front of the House Readiness Subcommittee hearing, and U.S. Sen. Roger Wicker, in front of the Senate Armed Services Committee, grilled Air Force leaders about plans to move 10 aircraft to Little Rock Air Force Base in Arkansas. (Post)

Speaking of those aircraft, last weekend all of Keesler's C-130J and WC-130J aircraft were up in the air simultaneously as part of the 403rd Wing's training exercise. The exercise was one of the largest the 403rd Wing has conducted. The three-hour training exercise included dropping 15 pound sandbags to simulate a tactical air drop. (Post)

-- The last F-22 from New Mexico arrived at Tyndall Air Force Base this week. The four F-22 Raptors from the 7th Fighter Squadron at Holloman Air Force Base brings to 24 the number of Raptors transferred to Tyndall from Holloman. The move will ultimately involve 1,100 personnel. Seven T-38 Talons also were moved from Holloman to Tyndall. (Post)

Jacobs Technology Inc., Tullahoma, Tenn., was awarded a $67 million modification for an existing contract with multiple funding appropriations at the task order level for technical and engineering acquisition support services. Work will be done at Eglin Air Force Base, Fla., with completion by Oct. 18, 2014. Air Force Test Center/PZZ, Eglin Air Force Base, is the contracting activity. (Post)

Avondale: Huntington Ingalls said it will conduct a study with Kinder Morgan Energy Partners LP to explore redeveloping Huntington Ingalls Industries' Avondale shipyard in Louisiana. (Post)
LHA 6: Ingalls Shipbuilding of Pascagoula, Miss., deliver the amphibious assault ship America (LHA 6) to the Navy during the week. (Post)
Ingalls: Brian Cuccias, Ingalls Shipbuilding's president, said the Pascagoula, Miss., shipyard is looking to hire 2,500 craft workers this year. (Post)
Railgun: The Navy plans to test an electromagnetic railgun aboard a Joint High Speed Vessel in fiscal year 2016. JHSVs are built by Austal USA in Mobile, Ala. (Post)

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