Saturday, May 31, 2014

Week in review (5/25 to 5/31)

If you want to learn more about the aerospace activities in the Gulf Coast region, you'll want to take a look Monday at the fourth edition of the Gulf Coast Reporters’ League's annual book.

This year the team took a look at the aerospace products that are made, developed, tested or managed in this region, as well as efforts to lure suppliers to the region. There's also a chapter on workforce development, and one about the airports in the region that are key economic development magnets. The book also takes a look at cutting-edge work done in this region, and military aviation.

The separate chapters as well as the entire book will be available as free PDF downloads, thanks to the underwriters who are support the research that goes into this book.

So a tip of the hat to, in alphabetical order: Aerospace Alliance, Baldwin County Economic Development Alliance, Economic Development Council of Okaloosa County, Enterprise Florida, Florida's Great Northwest, Greater Pensacola Chamber, Gulf Power, Gulfport-Biloxi International Airport, Mobile Airport Authority, Mobile Area Chamber of Commerce, Pensacola International Airport, PowerSouth, Santa Rosa County Economic Development and Trent Lott International Airport.

The book will be available at the Gulf Coast Aerospace Corridor website. Watch for it Monday.

Now for your week in review:

Now we know an F-35 can shoot down two targets sequentially. It happened during a test last week off the coast of California when an F35B, the Marine Corps variant, engaged two drones with two AIM-120 medium range missiles. That was a first for any F-35 variant. It happened at the Point Mugu Sea Test Range.

A different F-35, this one the A variant used by the Air Force, completed the first flight test with the next level software load. The plane flew a 1.9-hour mission at Edwards Air Force Base, Calif., with the first Block 3i hardware and software.

On the other side of the country, an F-35C, the variant with a tailhook designed for Navy ships, accomplished a landing at the maximum test speed and drop rate. The test at Naval Air Station Patuxent River, Md., was to test the aircraft's landing gear, airframe and arrestment system.

The F-35 has so far amassed more than 17,000 flight hours, with all three variant aircraft at the F-35 Integrated Training Center at Eglin Air Force Base, Fla., surpassing the 5,000 sorties milestone during the week. (Post)

Usually when I write about a robot in this space, it's one that's airborne.

A robot called HexRunner developed in Pensacola, Fla., set a new land-speed record for legged robots last week, hitting 33 mph without being tethered. HexRunner has six spring-loaded legs revolving around a central hub, with three legs on each side of the hub. At the tip of the top leg it stands six feet high.

HexRunner was developed by the Florida Institute for Human and Machine Cognition for the DARPA-sponsored FastRunner project. And now that I think of it, it was airborne between steps. So it is an aerospace story. (Post)

That engine failure during a test at Stennis Space Center, Miss., is forcing Orbital Sciences to delay the launch of its second robotic resupply mission to the International Space Station.

An Aerojet AJ26, one of two used on Orbital's Antares launch vehicle, failed midway through a test. Orbital Sciences decided to postpone the June 10 launch of the company's Antares until at least June 17. The Antares is used to launch the company's unmanned Cygnus cargo spacecraft. (Post)

Fourteen environmental sites at the Mobile Aeroplex will be tested for hazardous substances. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency is providing Mobile, Ala., with $400,000 to help clean up those potentially contaminated lands on the complex and surrounding neighborhoods.

The funds are through EPA's Brownfields Program. The Aeroplex is the former Brookley Air Force Base, and it’s the site of multiple aerospace operations, including Airbus, ST Aerospace, Star Aviation and Continental Motors. (Post)

Speaking of Continental Motors, the company, which makes piston engines for some of the best known small aircraft manufacturers, is featured the most recent issue of the Mobile Chamber of Commerce's Business View.

Continental Motors has been around since the 1920s. Back in 2011 it was bought by Aviation Industries of China (AVIC) in 2011. The new owners are investing in the Mobile facility. (Post)

Airbus is seeking additional liaison engineers for its A320 final assembly line being built at Mobile Aeroplex in Alabama. The four positions posted early in the week include liaison engineers for electrical systems installations, power plant and mechanical, avionics systems and cabin systems. (Post)

-- Ricardo, a global engineering, strategic, and environmental consultancy in Brighton, U.K., has been awarded an order from UTC Aerospace Systems for the manufacture of components used within the flap actuation system for the Airbus A320 family of aircraft. Airbus is building an A320 final assembly line in Mobile, and UTC Aerospace has an operation in Foley, Ala. (Post)

A new building and entrance sign is in place at Stennis International Airport, just outside Stennis Space Center in South Mississippi. Million Air Stennis has been constructing the new building and hangar that dwarfs the one-story facility it has been using.

It has a conference room, theater, flight planning room, cafe, two lounges and two sleeper rooms for overnight stays. In addition, the FAA has approved a $235,053 grant for the installation of new fencing along the airport’s perimeter. (Post)

L-3 Communications Vertex Aerospace LLC, Madison, Miss., was awarded a $55.4 million contract modification for logistics services support of the TH-57 aircraft fleet. Work will be performed at Naval Air Station Whiting Field, Milton, Fla., and is expected to be completed in May 2015. … Lockheed Martin Space Systems Co., Sunnyvale, Calif., was awarded a $7.4 million contract modification to generate simulation scenarios in support of Air Force Operational Test and Evaluation Center's initial operational test and evaluation at Space-Based Infrared Systems Engineering and Manufacturing Development, Block 20. Lockheed Martin at Stennis Space Center, Miss., does the core propulsion system work on the SBIRS satellites. … EADS North America Inc., Herndon, Va. was awarded a $33.8 million contract modification for logistic support for the Utility Helicopter-72A. Work is to be performed in Columbus, Miss., with an estimated completion date of June 30, 2016.

Egypt-bound: Two fast missile craft built in Mississippi for the Egyptian Navy were loaded onto a civilian transport ship in Pensacola Bay last weekend. (Post)
ATB: VT Halter Marine in Mississippi has delivered an ocean-going articulated tug barge (ATB) to Bouchard Transportation, a 96-year-old New York state total service oil barging company. (Post)
Contract: Northrop Grumman Systems Corp., Bethpage, N.Y., was awarded a $20.9 million contract modification to provide integration services for mission packages that will deploy from and integrate with the Littoral Combat Ship. Ten percent of the work will be done in Panama City, Fla. (Post)

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