Saturday, May 17, 2014

Week in review (5/11 to 5/17)

The fourth edition of the annual Gulf Coast Aerospace Corridor will be available in just over two weeks. We're excited about this year's offering, which will have a chapter on aerospace products that are made, developed, tested or in some other way tied to the I-10 corridor.

Products range from the Dream Chaser spaceship being built in New Orleans to unmanned aerial systems, engines, avionics systems and more. I think you'll be surprised at just how many weapons systems are developed and managed at Florida's Eglin Air Force Base.

We also have a chapter on the long drawn out process of attracting suppliers to the region in the wake of Airbus building an assembly line in Mobile, and a chapter on education and workforce efforts. There's also a new chapter about the region’s airports, commercial and non-commercial alike, that are playing a role in luring new companies to the region, plus a chapter on cutting-edge work done in the region and a piece on the military.

I also want to take this opportunity to thank the sponsors who have already signed up to support the research that has gone into the book. Sure, we could provide the research and compile the book without them, but we’d have to charge for the book instead of offering it as a free PDF or a printed book at cost. The underwriters feel the information is important and want to make it available to anyone who wants it.

The book will be available June 2.

Now for the week in review:

The workforce is slowing being pulled together for the A320 final assembly line being built at the Mobile Aeroplex in Alabama. Airbus Americas posted two new positions during the week. One is for a health, safety and environmental specialist and one is for a manufacturing engineer. The assembly line will open in 2015 and the first plane will be delivered in 2016. (Post)

-- Speaking of the Aeroplex, the Alabama Aviation Training Center is now open. The first class of 22 hourly workers are preparing for future employment at the Airbus plant being built a few blocks away. A formal grand opening of the Alabama Industrial Development Training program operation is set for June 24. (Post)

-- In addition to the Mobile operations, Airbus has a presence in Columbus, Miss., where it builds UH-72A Lakota helicopters for the Army. The plant recently delivered the 300th helicopter to the Army. Since the contract was awarded in 2006, the company has delivered the helicopter in seven different configurations for missions including training, border security, search and rescue, medical evacuation and more. (Post)

NASA is nearing completion on two major structural restoration construction packages for the B-2 Test Stand that will be used to test the core stage of NASA’s Space Launch System (SLS), which will carry astronauts into deep space.

Beginning in 2016 the core stage, powered by four RS-25 engines, will be tested on the B-2 stand. The first two work packages to renovate the stand will be done in July, while two other work packages will be finished in 2015. (Post)

Mississippi's Gulfport-Biloxi International Airport tentatively approved a lease with Gateway America to manage the airport's cargo warehouse. The lease would relieve the airport of up to $175,000 a year in operating expenses that Gateway will assume, and generate $3,500 a month in rent. Gateway leases 20 percent of the warehouse right now and under the cargo management agreement would find other tenants and customers. (Post)

-- The Air Force announced the assignment of Maj. Gen. Leonard A. Patrick, commander, Second Air Force, Air Education and Training Command, Keesler Air Force Base, Miss., to vice commander, Headquarters Air Education and Training Command, Joint Base San Antonio-Randolph, Texas. Also announced was the assignment of Brig. Gen. Mark A. Brown, who has been selected for the grade of major general, director, financial management, Headquarters Air Force Materiel Command, Wright-Patterson Air Force Base, Ohio, to commander, Second Air Force, Air Education and Training Command, Keesler. (Post)

Lockheed Martin workers who operate NASA test stands at Stennis Space Center, Miss., are on strike over the company's plan to end pensions. It involves members of Local 2249 of the International Machinists and Aerospace Workers. Lockheed Martin and the union are at the end of a three-year contract. It doesn’t impact Lockheed's Mississippi Space and Technology Center at SSC, which works on satellite systems. (Post)

-- Raytheon has delivered the 1,000th Miniature Air Launched Decoy Jammer to the U.S. Air Force. The ADM-160C MALD-J variant, an autonomous stand-in-jammer, can also operate in decoy mode. MALD, with a range of 500 nautical miles, protects aircraft by duplicating the combat flight profiles of U.S. and allied aircraft. MALD-J adds radar-jamming capability to the basic MALD platform. Eglin Air Force Base, Fla., manages the MALD-J program. (Post)

-- Exelis was ranked No. 1 in Aviation Week's 2014 Top-Performing Company study in the $1 billion to $5 billion revenue category. The annual study examines more than 50 aerospace and defense companies. It analyzes the operational performance and business strategy execution of the publicly-traded companies among other factors. Exelis has an operation in Panama City, Fla., that develops mine defense systems. (Post)

Jacobs Technology, Bedford, Mass., was awarded a $23.5 million contract to provide engineering and technology acquisition support services using established government, contractor, and industry processes. Work will be performed at Eglin Air Force Base, Fla., and other bases and is expected to be complete by Nov. 30, 2015. … EADS-NA, Herndon, Va., now Airbus Helicopters, was awarded a $55.4 million contract modification to procure 10 UH-72A Lakota helicopters with ARC-231 radios. Work will be performed Columbia, Miss. … Textron Systems, Wilmington, Mass., was awarded a $17.3 million contract modification for the completion of mission control unit software development and aircraft integration for the sensor fuzed weapon. Air Force Life Cycle Management Center, Long Range Systems Division, Eglin AFB, is the contracting activity. … Lockheed Martin Aeronautics, Fort Worth, Texas, was awarded a $101.9 million contract modification that provides for non-recurring engineering and sustainment tasks for mission systems software and autonomic logistics development of the F-35A Conventional Take Off and Landing Air System for the government of Israel under the Foreign Military Sales Program. Eglin AFB is the F-35 training center.

Admiral: Rear Adm. (lower half) Brian B. Brown, selected for promotion to rear admiral and current commander of Naval Meteorology and Oceanography Command at Stennis Space Center Miss., will be assigned as deputy commander, Joint Functional Component Command Space, U.S. Strategic Command, Vandenberg Air Force Base, Calif. (Post)
HII: Huntington Ingalls Industries of Newport News, Va., parent of Ingalls Shipbuilding in Pascagoula, Miss., entered an agreement to acquire UniversalPegasus International Holdings, a provider of engineering and project management services to the domestic and international energy markets. (Post)
Contract: Huntington Ingalls Inc., Pascagoula, Miss., was awarded a $12.2 million modification to a previously awarded contract to exercise options for DDG 51 class follow yard services. (Post)

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