Economic development folks from the Gulf Coast region will be heading to the United Kingdom this month for the Farnborough International Airshow. It's held every two years and combines a major trade exhibition with a public air show. This year it's from July 14-20.
Held at the Farnborough Airport in Hampshire, England, the event in 2012 attracted 109,000 trade visitors over the first five days and another 100,000 for the public air show. It's also a time when orders for planes are announced. For economic development officials, it's one of the opportunities to meet with a host of prospects.
This year, plans are still in the works for Lockheed Martin F-35B fighter jets to make an appearance at both Farnborough and the July 11-13 Royal International Air Tattoo, the world's largest military air show. But we won't know until this coming week whether the plans will attend.
The Air Force and Navy during the week issued directives to ground the F-35 fleet. (Post) That was based on initial findings from the runway fire incident that occurred at Eglin Air Force Base, Fla., on June 23. An Air Force F-35A caught fire as it was taking off.
The fire involved the third stage of the F135 engine built by Pratt and Whitney. That engine powers all three variants of the fifth generation single-seat fighter. According to one source quoted by Reuters, the engine ripped through the top part of the plane. The fire already prevented a planned F-35 "fly by" at the July 4 naming ceremony of Britain's new aircraft carrier. (Post)
No doubt the F135 issue is of high interest to the engine folks at General Electric and Rolls-Royce. Those two companies developed the F136, an alternative engine for the F-35. Development of the alternative engine was funded for a long time, but it was finally dropped in 2011.
With or without the F-35s, some big names are planning to attend the show. Air Force Secretary Deborah Lee James and Frank Kendall, the Pentagon’s top weapons buyer, will be among the senior American officials going to Farnborough this year. (Post)
Kendall, in addition to attending the Farnborough show, is also expected to travel to Italy to visit a plant in Cameri. Italy is closing in on a deal to become the top maintenance provider for the F-35 in Europe through a unit of aerospace giant Finmeccanica, according to Italian Defense Minister Roberta Pinotti. (Post)
-- Lockheed Martin Aeronautics Co., Fort Worth, Texas, was awarded a $29.6 million modification to a previously awarded contract to define the tasks required to update the F-35 to be in compliance with informational security functional constraints. Work will be performed in Orlando, Fla., and Fort Worth, Texas, and is expected to be completed in January 2017. The Naval Air Systems Command, Patuxent River, Md., is the contracting activity. (Post)
Boeing finalized a contract with NASA to develop the core stage of the Space Launch System (SLS), the most powerful rocket ever built. The contract, which includes avionics, is valued at $2.8 billion.
The agreement comes as NASA and Boeing complete the Critical Design Review (CDR) on the core stage, the last major review before full production begins. During the CDR, experts examined and confirmed the final design of the rocket's cryogenic stages that will hold liquefied hydrogen and oxygen.
It's NASA's first CDR on a deep-space human exploration launch vehicle since 1961, when the Saturn V rocket underwent a similar review. Michoud Assembly Facility, New Orleans, is building the core stage as well as the Orion multi-purpose crew vehicle. Stennis Space Center, Miss., is testing engines for the SLS engines. (Post)
Speaking of those engines, Aerojet Rocketdyne recently completed its final J-2X test series at Stennis Space Center. Over three years Aerojet Rocketdyne teams manufactured, assembled, and tested four newly developed engine test articles that achieved an accumulated duration of nearly five hours firing time.
The engine is one of several options being considered to power the upper stage of NASA's future 130-metric-ton Space Launch System, designed to launch crew and cargo to deep space destinations. (Post)
-- Lockheed Martin Space Systems Co., Sunnyvale, Calif., was awarded a $38.4 million contract modification for Advanced Extremely High Frequency (AEHF) System Interim Contractor Sustainment Re-vector under cost line item number 0610. Lockheed does core propulsion system work for AEHR at Stennis Space Center, Miss. (Post)
American Airlines Group is close to finalizing an order for 200 CFM International engines to equip 100 A320neo jetliners that the airline has on firm order. The deal is worth some $2.6 billion at list price. CFM International is a joint venture between GE Aviation and Safran. The deal is a loss for Pratt and Whitney, a unit of United Technologies, which makes the other engine offered on the A320neo.
This is one of those stories that’s of interest to the Gulf Coast region for a variety of reasons: Airbus is building an A320 final assembly line in Mobile, Ala., where Safran has an engineering center. In addition, GE Aviation has a jet engine parts manufacturing plant near Hattiesburg, Miss., and UTC has an operation in Foley, Ala. (Post)
The 919th Special Operations Wing recently welcomed the 2nd Special Operations Squadron, its remotely piloted aircraft unit, to Northwest Florida. The 2nd SOS, comprised of about 140 Air Force reservists formerly located at Nellis Air Force Base, Nev., began RPA operations at Hurlburt June 14.
The 2nd SOS Airmen are associated with their active-duty counterparts in the 3rd SOS, assigned to Air Force Special Operations Command's 27th SOW at Cannon Air Force Base, N.M. In addition to changing locations, the squadron also changed aircraft from the MQ-1 Predator to the MQ-9 Reaper a couple of months ago. Since its inception, the 2nd SOS has flown 57,225 hours on 2,346 combat support sorties. (Post)
-- Brig. Gen. Mark Brown took command of the 2nd Air Force during a ceremony Thursday at Keesler Air Force Base, Miss. Brown’s previous assignments was comptroller, Headquarters Air Force Materiel Command, Wright-Patterson Air Force Base, Ohio. Brown took over from Maj. Gen. Leonard Patrick. (Post)
-- A restored F/A-18 jet painted in the colors of a Blue Angels jet was unveiled at the entrance to Naval Air Station Pensacola during the week. The unveiling was one of a series of events this year marking the 100th anniversary of the base and 50th anniversary of the Blue Angels flight demonstration team. (Post)
For those who have wondered why the airports in Pensacola and Panama City have the word “international” as part of their names without having flights to foreign airports, that’s going to be changing in December.
Southwest will begin operating flights from Pensacola and Panama City to Mexico and the Caribbean beginning Dec. 16. The airline also will start those flights from New Orleans Nov. 11.
Southwest Airlines this month added the Caribbean to the list of locations it serves. Flights to the Bahamas, Aruba and Jamaica originate from Atlanta, Baltimore, Orlando, Boston and Pittsburgh. Southwest plans to add flights to Cancun and Los Cabos, Mexico, beginning Aug. 10, and to Mexico City and Punta Cana, Dominican Republic, on Nov. 2. (Story)
-- During the week, American Airlines Flight 386, traveling from Jacksonville International Airport to Dallas/Fort Worth International Airport experienced odor in the cabin. As a precaution, the MD-80 landed at Pensacola International Airport without incident. All 115 passengers were placed on another flight to Dallas/Fort Worth. (Post)
Loxley Commerce Site is now Baldwin County, Ala.'s sixth site to be designated an Alabama AdvantageSite. The program, a collaboration between the private sector and state and local governments, is aimed at increasing the marketability of locations in Alabama. The 152.5-acre Loxley Commerce Site is about two miles from Interstate 10, and adjacent to the 50-acre Loxley North Property, which received its designation in July of 2013. (Post)
L-3 Communications Vertex Aerospace LLC, Madison, Miss., was awarded a $151.4 million contract to provide organizational, intermediate, and depot level maintenance and logistics services in support of about 200 T-45 aircraft based at Naval Air Station Meridian, Miss.; NAS Kingsville, Texas; NAS Pensacola, Fla; and NAS Patuxent River, Md. … Raytheon Co., Tucson, Ariz., was awarded a $163.2 million contract for Advanced Medium-Range Air-to-Air Missile Program Support and Sustainment (PSAS). Air Force Life Cycle Management Center/EBAK, Eglin Air Force Base, Fla., is the contracting activity.
NSC: Ingalls Shipbuilding of Pascagoula, Miss., was awarded a $76.5 million fixed-price contract from the U.S. Coast Guard to purchase long-lead materials for the eighth National Security Cutter, Midgett (WMSL 757). (Post)