Saturday, August 2, 2014

Week in review (7/27 to 8/2)

I'll get to the week in review in a moment, but first, every now and then it makes sense to remind my readers, new and old, the aerospace news and information publications we have available. There's something for everyone at Here's a summary:

Daily: If you want to follow activities in this region as they develop, try the daily aerospace news digest. It monitors newspapers, broadcasters, public relations offices and more to tell you what's going on in this region on the aerospace front. It provides you with a link to the original source.

Weekly: This provides all the information from the daily feed but is designed for folks who want to get it all once a week. It groups the information based on topics, and puts it in context. It also occasionally has items not found on the daily feed.

Bi-monthly newsletter: Last year we introduced a quarterly, 8-page newsletter, and it's been popular enough and there are enough aerospace and aviation stories that we decided to publish it more frequently. Next month it begins publishing every other month. It will always appear on the website listed above, but if you want we can send it to you via email. Write to me and I’ll put you on the list.

Annual: We publish an annual book on aerospace and aviation activities in the region, and we just published the fourth edition in June. Like all the other publications, it's free thanks to our underwriters who want this work to continue.

OK, now for your week in review:

French engineering company Assystem is the latest company to announce plans for a Mobile, Ala., operation. The Paris-based company has 11,000 employees in 19 countries and is expected to have about 10 people in Mobile.

The company has worked with Airbus, General Electric, Rolls Royce, Safran and others. It offers aerospace, energy, automotive and other clients project consulting and IT services, specializing in outsourced research and development in fields such fields as embedded computing, optics and infrared, digital modeling and simulation and ergonomics. (Post)

Commercial aviation
Boeing forecasts growth in demand for commercial pilots and maintenance technicians as the global fleet expands over the next 20 years. The 2014 Pilot and Technician Outlook says that between 2014 and 2033, there will be a need for 533,000 new commercial airline pilots and 584,000 new commercial airline maintenance technicians. North America is projected to need 88,000 pilots and
109,000 technicians. (Post)

-- The Federal Aviation Administration has proposed a $12 million civil penalty against Southwest Airlines for failing to comply with regulations in three enforcement cases related to repairs on Boeing 737 jetliners.

The FAA claims that beginning in 2006, Southwest conducted alterations to eliminate potential cracking of the aluminum skin on 44 jetliners. The FAA conducted an investigation that included both the airline and its contractor, Aviation Technical Services Inc. of Everett, Wash.

The FAA determined that ATS failed to follow proper procedures for replacing the fuselage skins on these aircraft. Southwest has 30 days to respond. In this region, Southwest serves New Orleans, Pensacola and Panama City. (Post)

-- In New Orleans, Florida-based Spirit Airlines has added direct flights to Fort Lauderdale, Fla., and Houston's Bush Intercontinental. It also plans nonstop flights from Louis Armstrong International Airport to Chicago’s O’Hare International Airport and Detroit beginning Nov. 6. (Post)

-- Relocation of the Panama City–Bay County International Airport to West Bay, further from Panama City itself, hindered general aviation activity. But the airport's fixed-base operator, Sheltair, sees improvements and now want more space at Northwest Florida Beaches International Airport. The request will go before the authority next month. Sheltair, a Fort Lauderdale-based company, operates 14 facilities across the U.S., with locations in Florida, Georgia and New York. (Post)

The 815th Airlift Squadron will remain at Keesler Air Force Base, Miss., for now, and when it might be deactivated is unclear. Community leaders are waiting to hear whether the decision to delay deactivation of the 815th could lead to C-130 aircraft remaining at Keesler Air Force Base. The Air Force has been planning to move 10 C-130s from Keesler to Arkansas, but those plans have been tabled for now. (Post)

-- The F35B Joint Strike Fighter recently completed required wet runway and crosswind testing at Edward Air Force Base, Calif. It's an important program milestone enabling U.S. Marines Corps Initial Operational Capability certification.

In other achievements, four aircraft surpassed flight hour milestones, demonstrating program maturity and reliability: F-35C aircraft CF-1 and F-35A aircraft AF-4 achieved 500 flight hours, and F-35C aircraft CF-5 achieved 100 flight hours.

Eglin Air Force Base, Fla., is home of the F-35 training center for the three plane variants. (Post)

-- The cost to develop the Triton unmanned reconnaissance plane for the Navy has increased by at least 25 percent, or $720 million, according to the Navy and congressional investigators. The scheduled dates to begin production and then deployment of the Northrop Grumman-built drone have each slipped by more than two years. The Navy plans to buy some 70 of the MQ-4 Tritons, which are based on the Global Hawk unmanned aircraft.

The projected start of initial production has been delayed by 31 months to December 2015 from the original goal of May 2013. The target date to declare an initial squadron of the drones ready for combat has slipped to April 2018 from December 2015. The projected start of full-rate production, the most lucrative phase for a contractor, has slipped to January 2018 from December 2015. Triton central fuselage work is done in Moss Point, Miss. (Post)

NASA's Orion spacecraft is not ready for liftoff, but the spacecraft thinks it's already flown six missions. Since Orion's crew module was stacked on top of its service module in June, the vehicle has been put through a series of tests designed to verify all the individual systems work on their own in the new configuration and that they'll work together as a functional unit during flight.

And the best way to do that is to trick the vehicle into thinking that it's flying, so that it will perform exactly the same functions it will be called upon to perform in December, when Orion launches into space for the first time.

The Orion capsule was built at Michoud Assembly Facility, New Orleans; Stennis Space Center, Miss., will test the RS-25 engines that will be power the first stage of the Space Launch System, which will eventually be used to launch Orion. (Post)

L-3 Communications Vertex Aerospace LLC, Madison, Miss., was awarded a $29.8 million modification to a previously awarded contract to provide organizational, intermediate, and depot level maintenance and logistics support for T45TS aircraft based at Naval Air Station Meridian, Miss., Naval Air Station Kingsville, Texas, and Naval Air Station Pensacola, Fla. Six percent of the work will be done in Pensacola. … Science Applications International Corp., McLean, Va., was awarded a $10.4 million modification under a previously awarded contract for information technology ashore operations support services in support of Military Sealift Command's Command, Control, Communications and Computer Systems directorate. Some 2.4 percent of the work will be done in Pensacola, Fla.

RO/RO: The Alabama State Port Authority has identified a site for a $54 million automotive shipping terminal. (Post)

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