Saturday, July 19, 2014

Week in review (7/13 to 7/19)

While much of the aerospace industry was looking at the Farnborough air show and a lot of copy was devoted to whether the F-35 fighter would or would not show up, I was intrigued by a GE Aviation announcement.

The company said it would install a high-volume, additive manufacturing facility at its plant in Auburn, Ala. That plant opened last year to produce machined parts for jet engines, and the new $50 million 3D printing initiative will produce fuel nozzles for jet engines. GE will partner with Auburn University and others on workforce, research and technology requirements for the project. (Post)

The Auburn plant is a good distance from the Interstate 10 corridor, to the east of Montgomery. But GE Aviation is becoming a big player in this region. It also has an engine parts plant near Hattiesburg and Batesville, Miss., both making making composite parts for jetliner engines. In Batesville GE Aviation is working with Mississippi State University, and in Hattiesburg - it's actually the town of Ellisville - GE Aviation is teamed up with the University of Southern Mississippi.

This cutting edge work so close to the I-10 region is significant. Composites are important to the aerospace industry, and so is 3D printing. And when you consider what's going on in the I-10 region it's pretty significant. Propulsion system work has been important to this region for years. It dates back to the 60s when NASA began testing rocket engines at Mississippi’s Stennis Space Center.

In more recent years propulsion systems for jetliners has been added to the mix. We now have Rolls-Royce testing its Trent engines at Stennis Space Center. And historically this region has been involved in maintaining aircraft engines.

Fortunately, educators in this region have taken note and are working on addressing the need in this particular aerospace field.

So what other things happened at Farnborough? Well for one thing, an expected highlight of the show, the international appearance of the Lockheed Martin F-35 Joint Strike Fighter, did not happen.

As you are well aware, the appearance of four F-35s was called into question after an F-35 caught fire at Eglin Air Force Base, Fla., and the entire fleet of 100 planes was grounded. It was determined that the June 23 fire was caused by a blade rubbing against a cowl - an isolated incident.

The Pentagon lifted the flying ban, but kept in place some restrictions. It wasn't long after grounding was lifted that the Pentagon nixed any F-35 transAtlantic flights to Farnborough. The Pentagon's most expensive weapons program will rely heavily on foreign sales, and Farnborough was seen as an opportunity to strut its stuff. (Post)

Some other highlights of the show:

-- Airbus beat Boeing in aircraft orders. Airbus, which is building an A320 final assembly line in Mobile, Ala., said its orders and commitments at Farnborough for 496 aircraft were valued at $75 billion. Boeing secured business worth $40.2 billion for 201 airplanes. (Post)

-- The day before the show started the Aerospace Alliance, a group that promotes Alabama, Florida, Louisiana and Mississippi aerospace activities, hosted a river cruise for 500 invited guests. The delegation from the greater Mobile, Ala., later hosted the Mobile Bay Aerospace Reception for about 200 people. (Post)

-- Florida opened two pavilions at the air show, and according to Enterprise Florida, the state had the largest representation of any state at the show. Gray Swoope, Florida Secretary of Commerce and Enterprise Florida president and CEO, said this is the first year the state has had two pavilions. (Post) Enterprise Florida was also given an award at Farnborough in recognition for 20 years of service to small businesses through international trade and development support. (Post)

Here are a few Airbus-related highlights from the week:

-- Air Mauritius placed an order for six long range A350 XWB jetliners. That includes four A350-900 planes that would be bought from Airbus and two leased from AerCap. The planes are powered by Rolls-Royce Trent XWB engines that are tested at Stennis Space Center, Miss. (Post)

-- In Mobile, Ala., Airbus is looking to fill five corrosion protector positions at its A320 final assembly line being built at the Mobile Aeroplex. A minimum of six months training abroad is required. (Post)

-- UTC Aerospace Systems has been chosen by Airbus to supply new wheels and carbon
brakes for A320neo family aircraft through its plant in Troy, Ohio. The equipment is scheduled to enter into service in 2015 on the current A320 family of aircraft. UTC Aerospace has a center in Foley, Ala. (Post)

-- Airbus Defense and Space's U.S. military aircraft unit late last month held its first operators conference in Mobile. About thirty representatives from business and government owners of C212 aircraft fleets from five countries attended. Airbus opened a 30,000-square-foot maintenance, repair and overhaul center at Mobile Regional Airport in 2009. (Post)

-- Rolls-Royce announced that Airbus picked the new Trent 7000 as the exclusive engine for the Airbus A330neo. Rolls-Royce tests Trent engines at its outdoor facility at Stennis Space Center, Miss. (Post)

-- American Airlines selected CFM International’s LEAP-1A engine to power its new fleet of 100 Airbus A320neo family aircraft. CFM International is a joint venture of General Electric and Safran. GE Aviation has a jetliner engine parts plant near Hattiesburg, Miss., and Auburn, Ala.; Safran has an engineering center in Mobile. (Post)

-- Alcoa announced a $1.1 billion deal to supply jet engine parts to Pratt and Whitney, including the world's first lightweight aluminum alloy fan blade. Alcoa developed the forging for the new aluminum fan blade for Pratt and Whitney’s PurePower engines using an advanced aluminum alloy and a proprietary manufacturing process. The PurePower engine is an option on the A320neo. (Post)

In a key milestone in NASA's Space Launch System program, an RS-25 engine was installed Thursday on the A-1 Test Stand. The team at NASA's Stennis Space Center in South Mississippi will perform developmental and flight certification testing of the engine, No. 0525, a modified version of the space shuttle main engine that powered missions into space from 1981 to 2011.

The SLS core stage will be powered by four RS-25 engines. Early tests on the engine will collect data on the performance of its new advanced engine controller and other modifications. The core stage of the SLS is being built at Michoud Assembly Facility, New Orleans. (Post)

-- The Cygnus space capsule designed to resupply the International Space Statino was successfully launched last weekend from Wallops Island, Va., atop an Orbital Sciences Antares rocket. The Antares rocket is powered by twin Aerojet Rocketdyne AJ26 engines, which are tested at Stennis Space Center, Miss. (Post)

-- Space Florida is moving ahead with plans for the first commercial development in the nine-acre Pensacola Technology Park in Pensacola, Fla., issuing a request to recruit and architectural firm and citing Sept. 12 as its deadline to negotiate an agreement with one.

The Melbourne-based agency filed a "Request for Qualifications" with Florida officials that detailed its building plans for a nearly 60,000-square-foot facility that would include areas for technological research and training. Space Florida's current plans envision five tenants. (Post)

The Air Force will cut 3,459 positions through a major reorganization of headquarters across the nation and overseas. The Air Force will deactivate and realigning organizations at headquarters Air Force, major commands, numbered air forces and field operating agencies, resulting in savings of $1.6 billion in the next five years. In Northwest Florida, Hurlburt Field will lose 22 positions and Eglin Air Force Base one. (Post)

-- In Florida, Pensacola International Airport launched its new, mobile-friendly website The redesigned site includes new navigation tools. It also includes a new community directory with special events and local promotions. (Post)

Aircraft and weapons
Lockheed Martin Aeronautics Co., Fort Worth, Texas, was awarded a $278.6 million modification to the previously awarded F-35 Lightning II Low Rate Initial Production Lot VI contract. This modification provides for non-recurring sustainment activities, to include procurement of Depot Phases I-IV sustainment activities. The Naval Air Systems Command, Patuxent River, Md., is the contracting activity. (Post)

-- Raytheon, the Navy and Air Force have begun Small Diameter Bomb II integration activities on the F-35, F/A-18E/F, and F-16. Preliminary SDB II fit checks and pit tests have been completed on the F-35, supporting the Joint Strike Fighter's ability to carry eight SDB IIs internally. SDB II can strike targets from a range of more than 40 nautical miles, with a dynamic warhead that can destroy both soft and armored targets while keeping collateral damage to a minimum through a small explosive footprint. Eglin Air Force Base, Fla., is home of the F-35 training center; Eglin AFB manages the SDB Increment II. (Post)

-- Raytheon Co., Tucson, Ariz., was awarded an $8.5 million contract modification for Advanced Medium-Range Air-to-Air Missile (AMRAAM) Production Lot 27. The contract modification provides for integration and testing for AMRAAM contract line item numbers 0008, 0009, and 0010 being produced under the basic contract. The Air Force Life Cycle Management Center/EBAK, Eglin AFB, Fla., is the contracting activity. (Post)

-- Raytheon has been awarded an $80,768,012 firm-fixed-price and cost-plus-fixed-fee
contract for the Lot 7 Miniature Air Launched Decoy Jammer (MALD-J) missile (200 each) to include: data, mission planning, process verification program, and operational flight software. Work will be performed in Tucson, Ariz., and is expected to be completed by June 30, 2016. This award is a result of a sole-source acquisition. Air Force Life Cycle Management Center/EBJM, Eglin Air Force Base, Fla., is the contracting activity. (Post)

Other contracts
ST Aerospace secured new contracts to cover aerospace-related jobs such as airframe, component and engine maintenance, cabin modification and pilot training. ST Aerospace is the aerospace unit of Singapore Technologies Engineering (ST Engineering). In a statement on Monday, ST Engineering says the contracts include a five-year agreement with a regional U.S. airline for heavy maintenance of 42 Embraer E-170 and E-175 aircraft at its San Antonio facility. ST Aerospace has a maintenance, repair and overhaul facility in Mobile, Ala., and plans to operate a satellite operation in nearby Pensacola, Fla. … Northrop Grumman Aerospace Systems, El Segundo, Calif., was awarded a
$17 million contract modification for radar software deficiency corrections. The contract modification is for Multi-Platform Radar Technology Insertion Program radar system development and demonstration alignment with the Global Hawk Block 40 program schedule. Global Hawks are built in part in Moss Point, Miss. … URS Group Inc., Mobile, Ala., was awarded an $8 million contract for architectural and engineering services for the Mobile District and South Atlantic Division, U.S. Army Corps of Engineers. U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, Mobile, is the contracting activity. … Lockheed Martin Corp., Gaithersburg, Md.; Jacobs Technology, Fort Walton Beach, Fla.; SRA International, Fairfax, Va.; L-3 National Security Solutions, Reston, Va.; Raytheon, Garland, Texas; InfoReliance Corp., Fairfax, Va.; CACI-ISS, Inc., Chantilly, Va.; Northrop Grumman Information Systems, Herndon, Va.; General Dynamics Information Technology, Needham, Mass.; and International Business Machines Corp., Reston, Va., are being awarded a $960,000,000 multiple award, indefinite-delivery/indefinite-quantity (ID/IQ) contract for Network-Centric Solutions-2 (NETCENTS-2) Application Service.

Praise: Vice Adm. William Hilarides, commander of Naval Sea Systems Command, told an audience at a Navy League breakfast in Virginia that he was pleased with the quality of ships being built for the Navy. (Post)
Hamilton: The U.S. Coast Guard National Security Cutter, Hamilton (WMSL 753), successfully completed builders trials. (Post)
Contract: Ingalls Shipbuilding, Pascagoula, Miss., was awarded a $23.5 million modification to previously awarded contract for early industry involvement associated with the LHA(R) Program Flight 1 (LHA 8) ship design to initiate an affordability design phase. (Post)

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