The delivery of major sections for the first U.S.-built Airbus jetliner, a key rocket engine test and cuts to some aviation-related projects were among the stories of interested to the Gulf Coast Aerospace Corridor during the week.
Here's your week in review:
Those major jetliner sections that will be assembled into the first U.S.-built Airbus jet are now at the Mobile Aeroplex at Brookley. They were moved last Sunday from the Port of Mobile to the plant in a Mardi Gras-style parade. Thousands of onlookers lined the streets to watch as the parts were trucked to the facility. The first plane will be delivered to JetBlue next year. (Post)
Airbus sees the Mobile plant as key in helping it reduce the backlog of orders to the popular A320 family of jetliners. The Mobile plant will build the A319, A320 and A321. Three other plants, one in Germany, one in France and one in China, also build the A320 family of planes.
Because of the possibility that the monthly production schedule will be increased because of demand, there's also the possibility that an additional assembly line will be established in Germany at the current Hamburg plant.
The Mobile complex, by the way, has room to grow.
While a lot of the focus in this region has been on Mobile, to the west at Stennis Space Center, Miss., tests are continuing on the rocket engine that will help power U.S. astronauts deeper into space than ever before. The RS-25 developmental engine had a 650-second test firing during the week at the NASA facility. It was the longest firing to date of the engine, the fourth in the current series of tests.
Four RS-25 engines, modified versions of the engines that powered the space shuttle fleet, will power the core stage of NASA's Space Launch System. The launch vehicle, the most powerful ever, will boost the Orion crew vehicle that will take astronauts deeper into space than ever before.
The main goal of the series of tests is to see how the engine performs under simulated temperature, pressure and other changes required by the SLS design, and to develop a new controller, or "brain," for the engine. The first test of the current series was in January, and three more tests are scheduled for July and August. (Post)
The Gulf Coast region is heavily involved in the SLS. In addition to the testing at SSC, the core stage is being built by Boeing at Michoud Assembly Facility in New Orleans, and the Orion is being built by Lockheed Martin, also at Michoud.
Northwest Florida got some unwelcome news during the week when Florida Gov. Rick Scott cut three of Northwest Florida's aviation-related projects from the state budget. He used his line-item veto to cut $461.4 million from the $78 billion budget for projects across the state.
The cuts included $3 million for Pensacola International Airport to complete the purchase of parcels needed for the Airport Commerce Park, $1.5 million for development of Whiting Aviation Park in Milton and $1 million for expansion of the National Flight Academy at Naval Air Station Pensacola. (Post)
In all three of those cases, alternative sources of funding will be pursued.
The F/A-18s of the Blue Angels flight demonstration team have been repaired following two incident of parts falling off wings on two separate occasions. The first incident was at the May 23 air show in Rochester, N.Y., when the upper leading edge flap on the right wing fell off during a practice.
The second incident was June 6 in Rockford, Ill., when the part that moves the leading edge up or down was lost on the left wing. The Blue Angels are based at Naval Air Station Pensacola, Fla. (Post)
Speaking of the Blue Angels, former lead pilot Capt. Greg McWherter retired Saturday during a ceremony at the National Naval Aviation Museum at NAS Pensacola. McWherter commanded the Blue Angels for four years, ending in 2012. McWherter, a popular Blue Angels leader, was found guilty of violating the Uniform Code of Military Justice for allegedly allowing sexual harassment while in charge of the team. (Story)
-- A Navy TH-57 helicopter assigned to Training Air Wing 5 at Naval Air Station Whiting Field, Fla., made a hard landing during the week at Navy Outlying Landing Field Santa Rosa near Milton. The two pilots were able to exit the helicopter on their own. (Post)
Lockheed Martin Aeronautics Co., Fort Worth, Texas, was awarded $237.8 million for delivery order 0031 against a previously issued basic ordering agreement for initial spares in support of low-rate initial production Lot 9 F-35 aircraft for the Air Force, Navy, non-U.S. Department of Defense (DoD) participants and Foreign Military Sales customers. Spares to be procured include F-35 common spares; F-35A, B, and C variant unique spares; and aloft spares packages and deployment spare packages. Eglin Air Force Base, Fla., is home of the F-35 integrated training center. … Multiple companies, including RMS, Panama City, Fla., were awarded a combined $5 billion contract. The contractors will provide a full range of base life and operating support and logistical support on an as-required basis to support all programs with disciplines consistent with the AFCAP description of services. Work will be performed at locations worldwide determined by individual needs effective Oct. 1, 2015, and is expected to be complete by Sept. 30, 2021. The 772nd Enterprise Sourcing Squadron, Air Force Installation Contracting Agency, Tyndall Air Force Base, Fla., is the contracting activity. … SURVICE Engineering, Belcamp, Md., was awarded a $7.9 million modification to a previously awarded contract for SEEK EAGLE modeling, analysis, and tools support. The modification is to increase the ceiling price of the basic contract in order to award Task Order 0011. Work will be performed at Eglin Air Force Base, Fla., and is expected to be complete by Dec. 22, 2015. Air Force Test Center, Eglin Air Force Base, is the contracting activity.