Saturday, July 12, 2014

Week in review (7/6 to 7/12)

One thing for sure is this region will be well represented during the Farnborough International Airshow that starts Monday. Another thing you can count on? You won’t hear many details about results of the visit. But that's the norm. Consider it an investment that takes years to reach fruition.

So who will be there? A delegation of business and community leaders from the greater Mobile area will attend. Mobile is already well-known as the city that landed an Airbus A320 final assembly line, but it has multiple aerospace companies in both Mobile and Baldwin counties. (Post)

The chamber's Leigh Perry-Herndon said the team will post on a blog throughout the show. You can follow it here.

Also attending will be a five-member delegation from Northwest Florida. That team is headed up by Florida’s Great Northwest, the region’s economic development marketing organization. The team has set up appointments over a four-day period. (Post)

Speaking of Florida, the timing of a new report about that state and the aerospace industry couldn't have been better. State officials attending the airshow are likely to point to a new report by Florida TaxWatch that says the state can lead the nation in aircraft manufacturing.

The study says that during the last 10 years, the number of aircraft manufacturing establishments in Florida increased by almost 60 percent. It says commercial aviation in the state is expected to increase by 5 percent annually during the next 20 years. Florida, with 249 aircraft and parts manufacturing establishments, is second to California's 483 establishments. (Post)

The industry
Boeing released its most bullish 20-year forecast for jetliner demand since 2011, saying that the world will need 36,770 new planes worth $5.2 trillion by 2033. The company's annual projection is up 4.2 percent from its 2013 forecast, and it predicted beating rival Airbus Group in the lucrative market for twin-aisle planes as the planes are built and delivered over the next two decades. (Post)

-- Irish leasing company SMBC Aviation Capital is in advanced talks to buy about 100 Airbus aircraft, which could be announced at the Farnborough Airshow next week. The order may include the current generation of A320 single-aisle jetliners and the more fuel-efficient A320neo, and is potentially worth up to $10 billion at list prices. Any A320 sales are of interest to this region, where Airbus is building an A320 final assembly line in Mobile, Ala. (Post)

Speaking of that assembly line, Airbus is looking for quality inspectors for both the line and the supply chain. Both the assembly line and supply chain inspector positions require at least nine months' training abroad. (Post)

-- All those jetliners need engines, so we follow those stories closely. It was reported during the week that CFM International, a joint venture of the America's General Electric and France's Safran, is nearing an order from U.K. carrier EasyJet for 200 jet engines valued at $2.6 billion.

The Leap-1A engines would power 100 Airbus Group A320neos that EasyJet agreed to buy in 2013. Coming out on the short end of this is Pratt and Whitney, which also supplies engines for the A320 jet family. The deal may be announced at the Farnborough International Airshow next week.

Both Safran and GE Aviation have operations in the Gulf Coast region. General Electric has a jetliner engine parts plant near Hattiesburg, Miss., and Auburn, Ala., and Safran has an engineering center in Mobile. (Post)

In another engine-related item, Canadian plane-maker Bombardier said mid-week that it's testing a fix for its all-new CSeries engine with Pratt and Whitney and expects to resume flight tests in the coming weeks.

An engine failure in late May grounded the jetliner. Despite the delay in flight testing, Bombardier has said it still expects the narrow-body plane will enter service in the second half of 2015 to compete with the smaller jetliners of Boeing and Airbus. (Post)

OK, one more engine-related item, this one about the F-35. The U.S. Navy said late in the week that it's maintaining the grounding order for F-35B and F-35C variants, saying it was still not clear what caused an engine failure on an Air Force F-35 at Eglin Air Force Base, Fla., last month.

Hopes had been high three F-35Bs would attend the Farnborough International Airshow, which begins next week. The Pratt and Whitney F135 engine caught fire as a pilot was getting ready to take off in an F-35A, the Air Force variant. (Post)

But Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel during a visit to Eglin Air Force Base during the week voiced his support for the program. While at Eglin he spoke to pilots of the F-35 and was told how much they love flying the fifth-generation plane. Hagel's first stop in his two-day tour was Naval Submarine Base Kings Bay in Southeast Georgia, home to Navy Ohio-class ballistic and guided-missile subs. His final stop is at Fort Rucker in Southeast Alabama, home of Army aviation.

Representatives from Florida's Greater Pensacola Chamber and a delegation of regional partners and educators went to Mobile, Ala., earlier this month to tour aerospace and aviation facilities. The visit was intended to help develop aerospace and aviation workforce training programs and education curricula for Northwest Florida.

They visited ST Aerospace Mobile, which is planning to establish a satellite operation at Pensacola International Airport, as well as Mobile Regional Airport and the Mobile Aeroplex, site of the future Airbus A320 final assembly line. (Post)

Meanwhile, the Escambia County School District and Pensacola State College are creating a training pipeline for the aerospace industry. In the program students can earn airframe and powerplant certification to become mechanics. The program is expected to be in place within two or three years.

The district is beginning a similar aerospace training program at its George Stone Technical Center and has hired an instructor to teach aerospace mechanics. The first class is planned to begin in August of 2015. The district also is planning an aerospace career academy at Washington High School. (Post)

In another workforce-related story during the week, United Airlines said early in the week that it would outsource some 630 ticket and gate agents and baggage handler jobs at 12 American airports, including Pensacola, Fla. United Continental, formed in 2010 through a merger, has been trimming costs since then. One was the closing of the Cleveland hub. (Post)

Kaman Precision Products Inc., Orlando, Fla., was awarded an $8.5 million contract modification for Lot 11 Production of Joint Programmable Fuze systems. The contract modification provides for the exercise of an option for an additional quantity of 3,069 fuze systems being produced under the basic contract. Air Force Life Cycle Management Center/EBDK, Eglin Air Force Base, Fla., is the contracting activity. … Lockheed Martin Aeronautics Co., Fort Worth, Texas, was awarded a $6.8 million modification to a previously awarded contract to provide maintenance for Lot VII F-35 air systems in support of the U.S. Marine Corps and the government of the Netherlands. Eglin Air Force Base, Fla., is home of the pilot and maintainer training center. … Linde LLC was awarded a contract by NASA to supply liquid nitrogen and liquid oxygen to six of its research/space flight centers, including Stennis Space Center, Miss., and Michoud Assembly Facility, New Orleans.

LHA 6: The Navy's newest amphibious assault ship, LHA 6, set sail from Ingalls Shipbuilding Friday morning. (Post)

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