Stories of interest to the Gulf Coast aerospace region during the week included an aerospace company planning to set up shop near the airport in Bay County; the first group of airman qualify to load munitions on F-35s at Eglin Air Force Base; more jobs are posted for the Airbus final assembly line in Mobile; and the MQ-8C Fire Scout built in part in Moss Point gets ready for at-sea testing.
Here's the week in review:
Northwest Florida Beaches International Airport has landed aerospace company Edge Aerodynamix. The site was chosen in part because it will allow the company room to grow, according to company officials. That's one of the reasons the airport for Panama City was relocated from downtown to West Bay.
The project represents a $78 million capital investment and will create 120 jobs, some in manufacturing, others in research and development and marketing. The company develops products designed to save fuel, including its new BladeGuard technology designed to reduce drag. The company plans to continue R and D on additional products aimed at reducing drag and increasing efficiency, which is certainly a trend in aerospace.
According to the governor's office, the company considered a range of domestic and international sites, but opted for the airport that has over 10,000 feet of runway and over 4,000 acres for development.
"Northwest Florida has grown to be one of the top regions for aviation and aerospace companies to expand and establish operations," said Gray Swoope, president and CEO of Enterprise Florida, the state commerce department's economic development arm.
Florida is already home to more than 2,000 aerospace and aviation companies employing more than 82,000 workers across the state, according to state figures. The industry has an annual payroll impact of over $5 billion. (Post)
At Eglin Air Force Base, Fla., three airmen with the 58th Aircraft Maintenance Unit have become the first qualified operational weapons load crew for the F-35A. The F-35 training program at Eglin currently serves as the primary source of F-35 expertise to new F-35A units across the Air Force.
Ten weapons load crews are in the wings, and the plan is to bring a new crew through every month. The newly qualified teams will continue to hone their skills and become experts at their jobs so they can go train the weapons load crews at those bases receiving the F-35A. (Post)
-- Lockheed Martin and the Pentagon reached agreement on terms of a $4 billion contract for an eighth batch of 43 F-35 fighter jets. The contract will lower the cost of the plane by about 3 percent and includes jets to be built for the U.S. military, Britain and other U.S. allies. The deal was expected earlier, but talks slowed after a June engine failure on an F-35 at Eglin Air Force Base, Fla. It grounded the fleet several weeks. (Post)
Speaking of contracts, Lockheed Martin Aeronautics Co., Fort Worth, Texas, was awarded two more F-35 related contracts during the week. The Naval Air Systems Command, Patuxent River, Md., is the contracting activity for both contracts.
In one, the company was awarded a $110.5 million delivery order against a previously issued basic ordering agreement for procurement and installation of 281 retrofit modification kits to incorporate into designated aircraft and supporting subsystems that are critical to meeting F-35 requirements. Work will be done in Texas, Utah, North Carolina, Arizona, Eglin Air Force Base, Fla., and Edwards Air Force Base, Calif. Work is expected to be completed in March 2018. (Post)
In the second contract, the company was awarded a $7.7 million modification to a previously awarded contract to provide updates to the non-recurring effort required to develop a Common F-35A Air System, including the Air Vehicle and the Autonomic Logistics Global Sustainment system, for the government of Israel under the Foreign Military Sales program. Work will be done in Orlando, Fla., (70 percent), and Fort Worth, Texas (30 percent), and is expected to be completed in December 2017. (Post)
In Mobile, Ala., Airbus is seeking an aircraft manager for the A320 final assembly line being built at Mobile Aeroplex. It requires three months of training abroad, and the successful candidate will have two to five years' experience in aeronautics. A bachelor's degree is preferred. Airbus also is seeking a human resource worker to support the facility’s human resources director. (Post)
-- Northrop Grumman has been selected by Airbus Helicopters to certify and deliver its new LCR-350 Attitude and Heading Reference System (AHRS) for several helicopter platforms. LCR-350 AHRS can be used in civil and military applications on rotary- and fixed-wing platforms, providing flight control data on heading and attitude. Airbus Helicopters builds Lakotas in Columbus, Miss. (Post)
Stennis Space Center, Miss., and partner Innovative Imaging and Research (I2F) of Mississippi were among four teams selected by NASA for participation in the Early Career Initiative (ECI) pilot program. The program encourages creativity and innovation among early career NASA technologists by engaging them in hands-on technology development opportunities needed for future missions.
The Stennis Space Center team will develop and demonstrate a system for high-speed, 3-D, High Dynamic Range (HDR) imaging. Video imaging will be performed at the chip level using computational photography, providing NASA with advanced visualization technologies to meet future needs. (Post)
The MQ-8C Fire Scout unmanned helicopter has wrapped up testing in California and is preparing for at-sea tests later this year. The MQ-8C is a larger version of the MQ-8B Fire Scout, which has been extensively tested at sea. The MQ-8C is utilizing the same proven autonomous system for takeoff and landings as the current MQ-8B model. Final assembly for both helicopters is done in Moss Point, Miss. (Post)
Airmen from the 53rd Wing earned two Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) awards this year. The 2014 Air Force Outstanding Scientist/Engineer STEM award winner in the Junior Civilian category, David Barnette, 36th Electronic Weapons Squadron at Eglin Air Force Base, Fla., led several electronic countermeasure testing and process improvement techniques for various pod systems. The winner of the Air Force Outstanding Scientist/Engineer Team, the 36th Electronic Weapons Squadron, led several electronic countermeasure testing and process improvement techniques for various pod systems. (Post)
DynCorp International LLC, Fort Worth, Texas, was awarded an $83.4 million contract to provide organizational, intermediate, depot-level maintenance and logistics services for 53 T-34, 54 T-44, and 288 T-6 aircraft in support of the Chief of Naval Air Training. Work will be performed in Corpus Christi, Texas (50 percent); Whiting Field, Fla., (39 percent); Pensacola, Fla. (8 percent), and additional locations within the continental United States (3 percent); work is expected to be completed in September 2015. … Jacobs Technology Inc., Fort Walton Beach, Fla., was awarded a $45 million modification to a contract to provide support functions to the Army Sustainment Command Logistics Civil Augmentation Program (LOGCAP), and the Army Contracting Command-Rock Island LOGCAP and reachback divisions. … Whitesell-Green Inc., Pensacola, Fla., was awarded a $9.9 million contract for repairs to bachelor quarters at Corry Station, Naval Air Station Pensacola. Work is expected to be completed by May 2016. … Airbus Defense and Space Inc., Herndon, Va., was awarded an $82.9 million modification to a contract to acquire 17 72A Lakota helicopters with airborne radio communications 231 radios. Estimated completion date is Jan. 31, 2016, with work to be performed at Columbia, Miss. … Lockheed Martin Aeronautics Co., Fort Worth, Texas, was awarded a $33.4 million contract action to a previously awarded contract for AIM-9X Configurable Rail Launcher modification to the F-22. Contractor will provide upgrade to 220 AIM-9 CRLs with AIM-9X capability. Work will be performed at Fort Worth, Texas, and is expected to be completed by Feb. 28, 2017. F-22 pilots are trained at Tyndall Air Force Base, Fla., which is also home of an operational F-22 squadron.