Saturday, June 6, 2015

Week in review (5/31 to 6/6)

A nearly $1 billion order for F-35 aircraft, a report about the cause of an F-35 fire a year ago, a separate report about the cause of a fatal helicopter crash, a change of command at Eglin Air Force Base and an order for Airbus A320s were some of the stories of interest to the Gulf Coast aerospace region during the week.

But before we get to the week in review, I'll address a couple of housekeeping items.

First, as many of you know, we don't publish our bi-monthly aerospace newsletter during the month when we publish our annual book. That happened Monday. But we decided that it makes sense to publish a newsletter after all, but use it to summarizing the book chapters. We figured that's perfect for folks who simply don't have the time or inclination to sift through the book.

If you're on our newsletter subscriber list, you’ll get the summary newsletter Tuesday.

Second, there was a story during the week that some media outlets reported that you didn't see in the Gulf Coast aerospace daily news feed – and never will. All I'll say is it involved the fight against ISIS.

It's our policy not to publish anything that may jeopardize our troops or provide information that an enemy might use to its advantage. Sure, the information is easy to find elsewhere, but you won't find it here.

We still practice traditional journalism at Gulf Coast Aerospace Corridor, and that calls for us to be gatekeepers. Part of that is to consider the consequences of what we publish. And if it's something that might help those who wish to destroy us, we won't use it. That will always be the case for us.

Now for your week in review:

Lockheed Martin Aeronautics Co., Fort Worth, Texas, was awarded a $920.4 million advance acquisition contract for 94 F-35 low rate initial production aircraft. The contract provides for 78 F-35A aircraft: 44 for the Air Force, 2 each for Italy and Turkey, 8 for Australia, 6 for Norway and 16 for various foreign military sales customers.

It also provides for the procurement of 14 F-35B aircraft: 9 for the Marine Corps, 3 for Britain and 2 for Italy, as well as 2 F-35C aircraft for the Navy and Marine Corps. Work will be performed in Texas, California, the United Kingdom, Florida, New Hampshire, Maryland and Italy and is expected to be completed in May 2019. The Naval Air Systems Command, Patuxent River, Md., is the contracting activity. Eglin Air Force Base, Fla., is home of the F-35 integrated training center and mission data repramming office. (Post)

-- Last year's fire that destroyed an F-35A at Eglin AFB and grounded the fleet of the fifth generation fighter for nearly a month was caused by "catastrophic engine failure," according to an Air Force investigation released at the end of the week.

The fire occurred June 23 as the pilot was beginning to take off. Investigators say it was caused by a fractured engine rotor. In addition to the grounding, the F-35 was also prohibited from flying to the Farnborough International Airshow in England. The problem has since been fixed by engine-maker Pratt and Whitney. (Post)

In a separate accident report for another aircraft, this one fatal, investigators say "spatial disorientation" caused a Louisiana National Guard UH-60 helicopters to crash in the water near Navarre, Fla., March 10. Spatial disorientation happens when a person's sense of where he or she is relative to surroundings is lost due to fog or other conditions. The helicopter crash killed seven Marines and four National Guardsmen. Another helicopter that was training at the time returned to Eglin Air Force Base, Fla., because of the conditions. (Post)

The 96th Test Wing at Eglin AFB held a change of command ceremony Thursday. Col. Christopher Azzano assumed command of the wing from Brig. Gen. David Harris. Azzano was the commander of the 72nd Air Base Wing at Tinker Air Force Base, Okla. Harris received his second star prior to the ceremony. He becomes the Air Force Test Center commander at Edwards Air Force Base, Calif. (Post)

Frontier Airlines placed a firm order for 10 A321 and two A320 aircraft with the current engine option. This is the second time in less than a year that the Denver-based airline has ordered the A321. Including this order, Frontier has a backlog of 101 Airbus single-aisle aircraft. The company’s current in-service fleet consists of 34 A319s and 21 A320s. A new A320 family assembly line is opening in Mobile, Ala., this summer. It will be the fourth A320 assembly line operated by Airbus. (Post)

CAE USA Inc., Tampa, Fla., was awarded a $29.3 million contract that is zero-funded subject to availability of funds in accordance with federal acquisition regulation 52.232-18 as long-lead time is required for preparation to perform by the contractor. This contract is for fixed-wing flight training services. The contractor must have the plane for single-engine and upset-recovery training, flight simulators, hangar space and training space within a 50-mile radius of Fort Rucker, Ala., in order to perform the training services. Work will be performed in Fort Rucker, with an estimated completion date of Sept. 30, 2023. Army Contracting Command, Fort Eustis, Va., is the contracting activity.

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