The powerhouse for the A320 assembly line is finished; a team from Germany visits Continental Motors; the F-35C conducts its first night flight from a carrier; a contract is awarded for Global Hawk; and the securing of the Orion atop the Delta IV launch vehicle were among the stories of interest to the Gulf Coast aerospace region during the week.
Here's the week in review:
The powerhouse for the Airbus A320 final assembly line is now finished. It will provide utility services for the plant being built at the Mobile Aeroplex. Honeywell designed and built the powerhouse, which will require five full-time technicians when it reaches full operation. The $600 million plant opens next year. (Post)
Meanwhile, Airbus posted two more jobs for the assembly line. One is for an aircraft conformity manager, the other for a flight line and ground handling manager. (Post)
Also at the Aeroplex, German light sport aircraft maker Flight Design sent a team to the Continental Motors engine manufacturing plant for a weeklong session to give them detailed operational knowledge about the Continental IO-360-AF powerplant. That engine was selected for the all-composite C4 that will be built by Flight Design. (Post)
While I'm on the subject of aircraft and engine production, a new helicopter that will be built in the Gulf Coast region, the Bell 505 Jet Ranger, had a successful 30-minute first flight at the company's Mirabel, Quebec, manufacturing facility. The 505 is a five-seat, single-engine turbine helicopter that will be built at Bell's new 82,300 square-foot helicopter assembly plant in Lafayette, La., about 135 miles west of New Orleans. (Post)
NASA's Orion spacecraft is now joined with the Delta IV heavy rocket at Space Launch Complex 37 at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station, Fla. Orion is slated to travel almost 60,000 miles into space Dec. 4 during an unmanned flight designed to test many of the spacecraft's systems. Orion was built at NASA's Michoud Assembly Facility, New Orleans, and the Delta IV is powered by Aerojet Rocketdyne RS-68 engines tested at Stennis Space Center, Miss. (Post)
Closer to the ground, NASA started testing a aircraft wing surface that can change its shape in flight and make future jetliners quieter and more fuel-efficient. It's called the Adaptive Compliant Trailing Edge, or ACTE. It replaces the current trailing edge with an assembly that bends and twists – thanks to internal actuators -- to maneuver an aircraft. The vision is it could be retrofitted to existing wings or integrated into new ones. That would be of high interest to Airbus, which will build A320 family aircraft in Mobile, Ala., as well as Boeing. Both companies use winglets on the end of wings to improve fuel efficiency by reducing drag. (Post)
Two aircraft built in part in Moss Point, Miss., were in the news during the week.
Northrop Grumman was awarded a $306 million contract from the Department of Defense to continue logistics and sustainment services on the RQ-4 Global Hawk unmanned aircraft system. This contract comes on the heels of Global Hawk winning the Dr. James G. Roche Sustainment Excellence Award for the second year in a row. Global Hawk fuselages are built in Moss Point. (Post)
The other news item: When the USS Fort Worth (LCS 3) departs next week for a deployment to the Western Pacific, it will be the first deployment of the Navy's manned MH-60R Seahawk helicopter with the unmanned MQ-8B Fire Scout helicopter. Detachment 1 of Helicopter Maritime Strike Squadron 35 (HSM-35) is the Navy's first squadron to operate both the MH-60R and MQ-8B. Final assembly of Northrop Grumman Fire Scouts is done in Moss Point, Miss. (Post)
The Navy variant of the F-35 fighter made its first night flight off an aircraft carrier on Thursday. Two F-35C jets on board the USS Nimitz have been conducting a variety of tests aboard the carrier and are proving to be more reliable and performing better than expected, Navy test pilots told reporters. Eglin Air Force Base, Fla., is home of the F-35 integrated training center. (Post)