The crash of an F-16 in the Gulf of Mexico; the posting of more jobs for the Airbus plant in Mobile; the historic arrested landing of an F-35C aboard an aircraft carrier; and the possible end of the use of AJ26 rocket engines to power the Antares rocket were among the stories of interest to the Gulf Coast aerospace region during the week.
Here's the week in review:
The pilot who died when his F-16C crashed into the Gulf of Mexico has been identified as Matthew J. LaCourse, a civilian pilot assigned to the 82nd Aerial Targets Squadron. The plane went down 50 to 75 miles south of Panama City during a routine training mission.
LaCourse, 58, retired from the Air Force as a lieutenant colonel in 2000. In 2012 he marked 2,000 flying hours in an F-4. Tyndall provides air dominance training and, along with nearby Eglin Air Force Base, performs weapons evaluation missions. (Post)
-- The Navy's Blue Angels flight demonstration team is wrapping up its show season with a homecoming at Naval Air Station Pensacola, Fla. The team performed Friday and Saturday, with plans for a Sunday performance as well.
-- A scientist from Eglin Air Force Base, Fla., was named the Air Force’s 2013 Senior Civilian Scientist and Engineer of the Year. He’s Dr. Don Grundel. The Systems Integration and Interface branch of the Armament Directorate under his leadership was responsible for cost-saving initiatives and enhancing the way warfighters operate. Grundel was recognized at an Oct. 23 ceremony. (Post)
Airbus is seeking procurement professionals for its A320 final assembly line being built at the Mobile Aeroplex. The buyer positions will be responsible for the acquisition of goods and services and maintaining vendor relationships. The new final assembly line will open next year and will produce its first jet, an A321, for JetBlue. (Post)
-- China Aircraft Leasing Co. signed a memorandum of understanding with Airbus for 100 A320 family aircraft. The agreement involves 74 A320neo, 16 A320ceo and 10 A321ceo jetliners. (Post)
An F-35C performed the historic first arrested landing aboard an aircraft carrier Nov. 3 off the coast of San Diego. Navy test pilot Cmdr. Tony Wilson landed F-35C test aircraft CF-03 aboard the USS Nimitz flight deck. The arrested landing is part of initial at-sea testing program expected to last two weeks. Eglin Air Force Base, Fla., is home of the F-35 integrated training center. (Post)
-- Foreign nations buying F-35s will be able to customize the mission data packages loaded onto their aircraft. That may be a solution to a long-standing bone of contention among partners developing the F-35. The compromise involves labs where partner nations will be able to do their own software work in cooperation with the U.S. In addition to the lab at Eglin Air Force Base, Fla., there will be another operated by the Navy at Naval Air Station Point Mugu, Calif., and an entirely new lab designed to be used by the partners. (Post)
-- Lockheed Martin Aeronautics Co., Fort Worth, Texas, was awarded a $50 million contract modification for operational and engineering support required to integrate the F-35 operations with the Queen Elizabeth Class carrier for the government of the United Kingdom. Work will be done in the U.K., Fort Worth, Texas, and Orlando, Fla. The Naval Air Systems Command, Patuxent River, Md., is the contracting activity. (Post)
Orbital Sciences Corp. has decided it will likely discontinue using the Aerojet Rocketdyne AJ26 engine to power future Antares space launch vehicles. A preliminary review of the data from the explosion of an Antares rocket after liftoff from Wallops Island, Va., indicates a probable turbopump-related failure in one of the two AJ26 engine.
Orbital said it still plans to fulfill its contract commitments to NASA to resupply the International Space Station through one or two non-Antares launches of the company's Cygnus cargo spacecraft to the ISS in 2015-2016.
Aerojet tests the AJ26 engine at Stennis Space Center, Miss. (Post)
United Airlines said this week that it will begin serving Northwest Florida Beaches International Airport near Panama City, Fla., March 5 2015. It will provide twice-daily, year-round service to Houston’s George Bush Intercontinental Airport. Operated by United’s regional branch, United Express, it will use 50-seat Embraer ERJ 145 aircraft. (Post)
Rolls-Royce will shed 2,600 jobs over the next 18 months as part of a program to improve operational efficiency and reduce costs. The cuts will come principally in the aerospace division. A company spokesman said through an email that he could not specify where cuts would occur, but said a union in the U.K. has said they expect two-thirds to be in the U.K. Rolls-Royce has an engine test facility at Stennis Space Center, Miss. (Post)
The Air Force chose Booz Allen Hamilton Engineering Services LLC to provide technical support to the 96th Test Wing at Eglin Air Force Base, Fla. The value of the contract is $53 million. The 96th Test Wing is the test and evaluation center for Air Force delivered weapons; navigation and guidance systems; command and control systems, and Air Force Special Operations Command systems. … Airbus Defense and Space Inc., Herndon, Va., was awarded a $71.4 million contract modification to acquire UH72A Lakota helicopters with ARC 231 radios. Work will be performed in Columbus, Miss. … Raytheon Co. Missile Systems, Tucson, Ariz., was awarded an $85.5 million contract for Griffin missiles and support. Air Force Life Cycle Management Center, Eglin Air Force Base, Fla., is the contracting activity. … L3 Communications Corp., Systems Field Support, Madison, Miss., was awarded a $22.4 million contract modification to exercise the option for C-12 contractor logistics support. … Lockheed Martin Aeronautics Co., Fort Worth, Texas, was awarded a $7.3 million contract modification for F-22 sustainment training systems hardware retrofits. Work will be performed at Tyndall Air Force Base, Fla., and other locations. … Five companies are each being awarded contracts for various medical services that include the labor categories of Allied Health, Technologist, Technician and Assistant services at Military Treatment Facilities in the Southeastern Region of the United States. The combined amount is $99.7 million. The five companies will have the opportunity to bid on each individual task order. Among the work locations are Naval Hospital Pensacola and Navy Medicine Operational Training Center Pensacola.