Saturday, October 17, 2015

Week in review (10/11 to 10/17)

We've been getting a lot of indications for a while now that the Airbus A320 plant in Mobile, Ala., which had its official inaugural last month, will end up building more than four planes a month.

Now Mayor Sandy Stimpson has added his voice to the discussion. He told Reuters that Airbus is likely to increase aircraft output in Mobile beyond its current target. He said he based his view on public statements by Airbus and conversations with Airbus officials, not special knowledge of Airbus plans.

Airbus has said it could produce up to eight single-aisle jetliners a month at the plant at Mobile Aeroplex, but plans to build four a month by 2017. An Airbus spokeswoman said there were "currently no plans to change that rate."

Airbus has a backlog of 5,502 orders for its A320 family of jetliners. That's nearly 11 years of production. (Post)

Not surprisingly, Airbus came up during the 19th annual Gulf Power Symposium held early in the week at Sandestin resort. The two-day symposium had some 650 people registered, a number that keeps growing every year. This year the theme was "Think Big, Think Northwest Florida."

The symposium covers a range of economic topics, from tourism to ports and more. One talk focused on aerospace, a key growth area for Florida and the rest of the Gulf Coast I-10 corridor.

Kevin Michael, vice president of ICF International, discussed the Southeast and its growing role in the aerospace supply chain. He said a combination of factors, including increasing labor costs overseas and new technologies, has made the United States, and particularly the Southeast, appealing to the aerospace industry.

Michael's talk was called "Rightshoring: The New Aerospace Supply Chain Imperative." He said the offshoring trend that began in 2000 has changed, and in 2012 something he calls rightshoring began to take hold.

That occurred when labor costs outside the United States went up and labor became a smaller portion of the cost of manufacturing. He said one issue that may impact the Southeast is Airbus' request to suppliers to cut costs by 10 percent. He said that might prompt some European suppliers to take another look at the United States as an option. (Post)

Lockheed Martin Aeronautics Co., Fort Worth, Texas, was awarded a $17.6 million delivery order against a previously issued basic ordering agreement. This order provides for the procurement of retrofit modification kits and associated engineering installation services in support of the Block 3F upgrade of two F-35A aircraft for non-Department of Defense (DoD) participants. Work will be performed in Fort Worth, Texas (90 percent); and Baltimore, Md. (10 percent), and is expected to be completed in September 2021. 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. … Lockheed Martin Missile and Fire Control, Orlando, Fla., was awarded a $305.5 million contract for the Joint Air-to-Surface Standoff Missile production. Contractor will provide Joint Air-to-Surface Standoff Missile production, system upgrades, integration, sustainment, management, and logistical support. Work will be performed at Troy, Ala., and is expected to be complete by June 30, 2018. Air Force Life Cycle Management Center, Eglin Air Force Base, Fla., is the contracting activity. … The Boeing Defense, Space & Security Missile and Unmanned Airborne Systems, St. Louis, Mo., was awarded an $11.8 million modification to the previously awarded contract for engineering and manufacturing development of the B61-12 tailkit assembly. Contractor will provide additional test assets, materials, and hardware to enable the demonstration of the reliability of the B61-12 tailkit assembly. Work will be performed at St. Louis and is expected to be complete by July 31, 2017. Air Force Life Cycle Management Center, Eglin Air Force Base, Fla., is the contracting activity.

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