Saturday, October 11, 2014

Week in review (10/5 to 10/11)

The October edition of the Gulf Coast Aerospace Corridor/Gulf Coast Reporters' League aerospace newsletter will be published Tuesday. You'll be able to find it at Gulf Coast Aerospace Corridor or, if you want, you can have it delivered to your inbox. Just drop me a line and I'll put you on the list.

In this issue of the bi-monthly, Duwayne Escobedo writes about maintenance, repair and overhaul giant VT MAE, which already has a large operation in Mobile, Ala., and recently signed an agreement with the city of Pensacola, Fla., to set up another MRO at Pensacola International Airport. The decision says a lot about the value of this region for aerospace companies.

I wrote a report about what it would cost to replace the Gulf Coast region's aviation-focused military bases and sites. You'll find all the details in the story, but I can tell you that it would cost a lot more to replace the bases and sites this year than a year ago. One base’s replacement costs are up more than 20 percent.

There's also a story by Tom McLaughlin about the new Doolittle Institute of Fort Walton Beach, Fla. The institute is one of just four of its type in the nation, and its mission is to bring together experts from the military, academia and businesses to come up with cutting-edge products.

There's also an article by Lisa Monti about Optech, a sensor company with its roots in Canada that develops products that look down from their airborne platforms to chart littoral regions and more. And with this company, innovation is ongoing.

We hope you’ll enjoy this issue.

Now for your week in review:

Three more jobs were posted during the week for the A320 final assembly line being built at the Mobile Aeroplex. The new positions are for a supply chain and logistics manager, key account manager for procurement and structural manufacturing engineer. (Post)

-- It was reported during the week that Airbus is trailing Boeing in the number of jetliner orders in the first nine months of the year, with 1,000 net for Boeing compared to 791 for Airbus. Boeing also delivered more aircraft, 528 compared to 443. Most of the orders booked by Airbus so far this year are for the fuel-efficient A320neo and A321neo, chalking up 512 orders and 146 orders, respectively. (Post)

Speaking of orders for Airbus jetliners, China Aviation Supplies Holding signed an agreement to buy 70 A320 family aircraft worth $6.6 billion at list price. Airbus has an assembly facility in Tianjin, where it has already assembled and delivered 190 A320s.

In addition, Airbus said it signed a letter of intent with its Chinese partners to build an assembly facility for A330 family aircraft. The letter of intent was signed Friday with heads of the Tianjin Free Trade Zone and AVIC, the Aviation Industry Corp. of China. AVIC owns Continental Motors in Mobile. (Post)

-- The Mobile newspaper reported Saturday that a delegation from Mobile has wrapped up a week-long visit to Europe to see Airbus officials. The newspaper says one result of the visit is that research projects between Airbus and the University of South Alabama may increase. (Story)

Norway says it will cost 20 percent more to own and operate a fleet of F-35 fighters than it does its aging F-16 fleet, but the government is moving forward. Norway’s F-35 Program Office said modern threats demand the F-35’s fast response, adding that today’s crises are "come as you are conflicts."

Norway is on its way to having one of the largest F-35 forces with plans to acquire 52. The initial aircraft are on the assembly line in Fort Worth, Texas. Four of Norway’s F-35s will remain in the U.S. to support pilot training. Eglin Air Force Base, Fla., is the F-35 integrated training center. (Post)

-- Lockheed Martin Aeronautics Co., Fort Worth, Texas, was awarded two F-35-related contracts during the week. One was a $31 million modification to the previously awarded F-35 Low Rate Initial Production Lot VI contract. This modification provides for non-recurring efforts associated with the procurement of two full mission simulators in support of Israel's F-35A Conventional Take-Off and Landing Air System for pilot training. (Post)

In the second contract, the company was awarded a $37 million modification to the previously awarded F-35 Low Rate Initial Production Lot VI contract. This modification provides for non-recurring efforts associated with the procurement of training spares for Israel and Japan and two full mission simulators in support of Japan's F-35A Conventional Take-Off and Landing Air System for pilot training. This modification combines purchases for the governments of Japan (92.8 percent) and Israel (7.2 percent) under the Foreign Military Sales Program. (Post) The Naval Air Systems Command, Patuxent River, Md., is the contracting activity for both the contracts.

The Navy this month launched AIRWorks, an initiative to more quickly develop and bring to the field weapons to meet U.S. military needs. It's modeled after Lockheed Martin’s Skunk Works and Boeing’s Phantom Works. Projects completed over the past year as the organization was taking shape include bulletproofing V-22 tiltrotor aircraft and adding rockets to the Fire Scout unmanned helicopter. V-22s are used by Air Force Special Operations at Hurlburt Field, Fla., and finishing work on Fire Scouts is done in Moss Point, Miss., by Northrop Grumman. (Post)

Atlas North America LLC, Virginia Beach, Va., was awarded an $8 million contract for depot level repair, maintenance, modifications, engineering services and spare parts for the AN/ASQ-232 Airborne Mine Neutralization System (AMNS) to support the Navy for the currently deployed Airborne Mine Countermeasures legacy systems. Work will be performed in Panama City Beach, Fla. (60 percent); Bahrain (25 percent); Virginia Beach (10 percent); South Korea (2.5 percent); and Japan (2.5 percent); and is expected to be completed by October 2015. … Jacobs Technology Inc., Tullahoma, Tenn., was awarded an estimated $80 million modification to exercise an option to previously awarded contract for additional engineering, technical and acquisition support services being provided under the basic contract. Work will be performed at Eglin Air Force Base, Fla., and is expected to be complete by Oct. 18, 2015. Air Force Test Center, Eglin Air Force Base, is the contracting activity.

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