It was a shocking story right from the start, and got more so by the end of the week.
I'm talking about the Germanwings A320 that crashed in the French Alps Tuesday, killing 150 people. Some of the initial reports, of course, talked about the 24-year-old plane itself, and pointed out that it was inspected as recently as the day before the crash.
But by the end of the week it was clear that this was no accident and nothing was wrong with the plane itself. German co-pilot Andreas Lubitz locked the pilot out of the cockpit when the pilot left him alone at the controls. He took the plane, on a flight from Barcelona, Spain, to Duesseldorf, Germany, on an intentional eight-minute descent that ended in rugged terrain on the side of a mountain. (Post)
The crash was of interest to this region because of the type of plane. Airbus will be opening an A320 final assembly line in Mobile, Ala., later this year.
-- In another story during the week, Airbus said it delivered its 9,000th aircraft, an A321, to Vietnamese carrier VietJetAir. Airbus delivered its first A300 in 1974, and its lineup today includes the A320 family and the world’s largest aircraft, the double deck A380. Over the last 10 years, Airbus has doubled its deliveries to reach over 600 aircraft a year today. (Post)
-- Also during the week, we learned that machinists at the Boeing plant in North Charleston, S.C., will vote April 22 on union representation. Voting will take place at five separate locations at the Boeing campus. There are about 3,000 workers at Boeing's 787 complex in South Carolina. Earlier an Airbus official said he fully expects unions to target the Airbus plant being built in Mobile, Ala.(Post)
New figures from the U.S. Census Bureau show two metro areas in the Gulf Coast I-10 aerospace region were among the 20 fastest growing in the nation from 2013 to 2014. Daphne-Fairhope-Foley, Ala., with a growth of 2.4 percent, was 14th fastest growing, while Panama City, Fla., with a growth of 2.2 percent, was 19th.
Other metro areas in the region also grew: Crestview-Fort Walton Beach-Destin, Fla., ranked 37, had a growth rate of 1.9 percent; Pensacola-Ferry Pass-Brent, Fla., ranked 87, had a rate of 1.2 percent; Gulfport-Biloxi-Pascagoula, Miss., ranked 124, had a growth rate of 1 percent; New Orleans, ranked 142, had a growth rate of .8 percent; and Mobile, Ala., ranked 267, had a rate of .1 percent. (Post)
Australia's first F-35A pilot, Squadron Leader Andrew Jackson, took his first flight in an F-35A aircraft at Eglin Air Force Base, Fla., on March 17. He flew a U.S. Air Force F-35A because Australian F-35A aircraft are currently located at Luke Air Force Base, Ariz., in anticipation of the opening of a pilot training center there in mid-2015. (Post)
A spike in military aviation operations kept activity at Northwest Florida Beaches International Airport from taking a dip in February. Airport Executive Director Parker McClellan said there were 3,665 aircraft operations in February 2015 compared to 3,703 in 2014. Airline operations were down 2.86 percent, general aviation operations dropped 18.63 percent and military operations increased 58.75 percent. (Post)
United Launch Alliance's Delta IV Heavy vehicle was chosen by NASA last week to launch the Solar Probe Plus mission to study the Sun’s outer atmosphere. The mission is scheduled to launch in July 2018 from Space Launch Complex 37 at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station, Fla. The Delta IV Heavy vehicle features a center common booster core along with two strap-on common booster cores, each powered by the RS-68 engine. The Aerojet Rocketdyne RS-68 engines are assembled and tested at Stennis Space Center, Miss. (Post)
-- NASA selected IT Federal Sales of Windham, N.H., to provide SAP software and maintenance support services to all NASA centers and associated facilities with a Blanket Purchase Agreement (BPA) estimated at $23.1 million. The BPA is available for use by all NASA centers and associated facilities through March 31, 2018. The SAP agreement is administered by the NASA Shared Services Center at Stennis Space Center, Miss. (Post)
Kaman Precision Products Inc., Orlando, Fla., was awarded a $58 million modification to a previously awarded contract for Lot 12 production of Joint Programmable Fuze systems. Air Force Life Cycle Management Center, Eglin Air Force Base, Fla., is the contracting activity. … Raytheon Missile Systems, Tucson, Ariz., was awarded a $528.8 million contract modification to exercise the option on a previously awarded contract for Advanced Medium Range Air to Air Missile Lot 29 production and other AMRAAM system items. Air Force Life Cycle Management Center, Eglin Air Force Base, Fla., is the contracting activity. … Sierra Nevada Corp., Sparks, Nev., was awarded a $15.1 million modification to exercise and option to a previously awarded contract to provide for contractor logistics services in support of the AC-130W and AC-130J precision strike package. Work will be performed at Hurlburt Field, Fla., Cannon Air Force Base, N.M., and various deployment locations. ... Rolls-Royce Corp., Indianapolis, Ind., was awarded a $93.6 million modification to a previously awarded contract to exercise an option to provide intermediate, depot level maintenance and related logistics support for about 223 in-service T-45 F405-RR-401 Adour engines and MKII gas turbine starters. Work will be performed at the Naval Air Station Meridian, Miss., NAS Kingsville, Texas, NAS Pensacola, Fla., and NAS Patuxent River, Md. … Boeing of St. Louis, Mo., was awarded a $28.5 million modification to exercise the option on the purchase of QF-16 Full-Scale Aerial Target (FSAT) Lot 3. This option is for the purchase of 25 QF-16 FSATs and 25 four-year warranties of the QF-16 drone-peculiar equipment. Air Force Life Cycle Management Center, Eglin Air Force Base, Fla., is the contracting activity.