Saturday, April 4, 2015

Week in review (3/29 to 4/4)

The April edition of the Gulf Coast Reporters’ League Aerospace Newsletter will be published Tuesday. You'll be able to find the 8-page, four-story PDF at the Gulf Coast Aerospace Corridor website beginning Tuesday, or you can sign up and have it sent directly to your inbox. Just drop me a line if you want on our growing list of subscribers. It's free, as is all our material thanks to our underwriters.

In the upcoming newsletter, I wrote about the Eglin Air Force Base lab that puts the fight in the F-35 Lightning II Joint Strike Fighter, and about two new multimillion-dollar labs that will be built at Eglin by U.S. partner nations. In the same issue is a story by Duwayne Escobedo about the aviation jobs in the Pensacola metro area that have been here for so long now, sometimes folks forget they are here. They are the folks who maintain the hundreds of Navy trainers that operate in the region.

One of our writers in Alabama, Matt Irvin, wrote about the U.S. Coast Guard Aviation Training Center in Mobile, which is the go-to organization for Coast Guard aviation. It sets the standards for Coast Guard aviators, and is the place they receive training for in specific aircraft. One of the ATC simulator has gotten some international attention. Last but not least, one of our Mississippi writers, Lisa Monti, will tell you about high-flying SpaceX and how its work at Stennis Space Center, Miss., will help power a new rocket designed to go to Mars. Talk about a company that thinks big.

I always get a charge out of folks who tell me they had no idea all this aerospace and aviation activity has been taking place in the Gulf Coast I-10 region for years. But that's one of the purpose of our newsletter. We hope you enjoy it. You can see past issues by clicking here.

Now for the past week in review:

Economic development
The Okaloosa Industrial Air Park in Crestview has joined the list of sites certified through Gulf Power's Florida First Sites program. Florida First Sites was created in 2013 to help communities prepare locations to attract new industries and new jobs to the region.

Fourteen sites were initially submitted from public and private landowners, and six have been certified so far. The new site is 134.7 acres owned adjacent to Bob Sikes Airport. The previously certified sites include two each in Santa Rosa and Bay counties and one in Jackson County. (Post)

Page & Jones Inc. of Mobile, Ala., has been awarded the import clearance and export services contract with Airbus related to its A320 final assembly line under construction at Mobile Aeroplex. Page & Jones is an international logistics company with branch offices at 12 ports and airports in a six-state area. It offers U.S. Customs clearance, export forwarding and ship agency services between ports and airports worldwide.

Airbus is building an A320 final assembly line that will open this year. (Post)

-- ANA Holdings has firmed up an order for seven more A321 aircraft, following the previous announcement in January this year. That brings ANA’s total order for the A320 family to 37 aircraft. In addition, CIT Group Inc. has placed a firm order for five more A321ceo aircraft, in effect doubling its most recent commitment for five A321 ceo aircraft signed at the 2014 Farnbourough International Airshow and firmed up in November 2014. (Post)

Lockheed Martin Aeronautics Co., Fort Worth, Texas, was awarded a $6.8 million modification to a previously awarded contract to provide interim contractor sustainment services in support of the F-35 low rate initial production lot aircraft for the Air Force. Work will be performed at Luke Air Force Base, Glendale, Ariz., and is expected to be completed in November 2015.

Eglin Air Force Base, Fla., is home of the F-35 integrated training center. (Post)

Two people in a helicopter working a controlled burn in the DeSoto National Forest died in a crash early in the week near Saucier, Miss. The third person, a National Forest Service veteran of 20 years, was hospitalized but improving. The controlled burn today involved 800 acres right at the Harrison and Stone county lines. The victims were a National Forest Service employee and contract pilot. (Post)

About 155,000 people attended the air show last week at Keesler Air Force Base, Miss. The show featured the Air Force Thunderbirds demonstration team. About 96,000 people attended Saturday and 59,000 were on hand Sunday. (Post)

Airbus Defense & Space Inc., Herndon, Va., was awarded a $9.4 million contract for UH-72A helicopter support, hardware, and services for the Royal Thai Army. Work will be performed in Thailand with an estimated completion date of March 31, 2017. The helicopters are built in Columbus, Miss. … Ampex Data Systems Corp., Redwood City, Calif., was awarded a $10 million contract for sustainment of the current Airborne Data Recorder fleet. Contractor will provide spare parts, technical support, repair services, and upgrade support to the existing Airborne Data Recorder fleet. Work will be done at Eglin Air Force Base, Fla., and is expected to be complete by March 31, 2020. Air Force Test Center, Eglin, is the contracting activity. … Avarint LLC, Buffalo, N.Y., was awarded an $83.7 million contract for Virtual Integrated Electronic Warfare Simulations (VIEWS) II. Contractor will provide an integrated, multi-spectral, virtual battlespace environment suitable for the test and evaluation of advanced sensor, fused system performance. Continuous advancements in survivability technologies necessitate improvements to ground and open-air test capabilities, with particular focus on the areas of sensors and avionics architectures that fuse information from multiple sources including the F-22 and F-35. Both aircraft are based in Northwest Florida. … Lockheed Martin Aeronautics Co., Fort Worth, Texas, was awarded a $10.8 million modification to previously awarded contract for the F-22 sustainment contract for the Reliability and Maintainability Maturation Program (RAMMP). Work will be performed at Fort Worth and is expected to be complete by Feb. 28, 2017. F-22 pilots are trained at Tyndall Air Force Base, Fla., which is also home to an operational F-22 squadron. … HX5 LLC of Fort Walton Beach, Fla., was awarded a $9.9 million contract for continuing research and development services. Funding and work location will be determined with each order, with an estimated completion date of March 29, 2017.

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