Saturday, November 7, 2015

Week in review (11/1 to 11/7)

The Boeing and Airbus duopoly has a new challenger -- granted, one that's far behind but a challenger non-the-less. The C919, a narrow-body jet that can seat 168 passengers, has rolled off the assembly line in China.

Its first test flight will be next year, but builder Comac said it’s already received orders for 517 aircraft from 21 customers. It's in the same market as the Boeing 737 and Airbus A320. The C919 is made in China, but it also has parts from around the world, including its engine and avionics.

The C919 has a long way to go. Just this week Airbus said it won 910 plane orders in the first 10 months of the year, boosted by China Aviation Supplies Holding Company's decision to firm up an order for 30 A330-300s in October. Excluding cancellations, net orders totaled 850 aircraft in the period from January to October. (Story)

Meanwhile, Korean Air during the week signed a contract with Airbus for a firm order for 30 A321neo aircraft plus 20 options. Korean Air is a new customer for the popular single jetliner. Korean Air will operate the A321neo on regional services. (Story)

The economy
In Mississippi, Tulane University economics professor Peter Ricchiuti said the economy is nowhere near as bad as some people thing. He was a speaker at the Jackson County Economic Development Foundation's investors dinner.

"The economy is doing a lot better than you're hearing in the media," he said. "I see some very positive numbers. The stock market has tripled in the last six years." According to stock index performance for the year ending Sept. 30, the aerospace/defense index is up 3.2 percent, he said.

That's especially good for Jackson County because of its existing businesses and potential to draw in more aerospace-related companies. "You are really in the sweet spot," he said.

Moss Point is home of the Northrop Grumman Unmanned Systems Center, which builds portions of the unmanned Global Hawk and Fire Scout. It's also close to Mobile County, Ala., which is building Airbus jetliners. (Post)

Plans were approved for a 10-megawatt solar power project at Fort Rucker, Ala., one of two major solar projects approved for the state Tuesday by the Alabama Public Service Commission. The other project is at Anniston Army Depot.

The Photovoltaic Solar Array System supports the Defense Department’s call for Army facilities getting 25 percent of energy needs from renewable sources by 2025. The Army is expected to consume a minimum of 51 percent of the power through an existing area contract with Alabama Power, which will own and operate the facility.

The series of networked solar arrays will be located on about 110 acres within a former trailer park near an electrical substation that will be used for connectivity. (Post)

- The Navy's Blue Angels demonstration squadron will hold a change of command ceremony tomorrow at 2 p.m. at the National Naval Aviation Museum at Naval Air Station Pensacola, Fla.

Cmdr. Ryan Bernacchi will relieve Capt. Tom Frosch. Bernacchi joined the Blue Angels in November. Prior to selection as commander, he served as a Federal Executive Fellow at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.

Frosch joined the Blue Angels in November 2012 and led the team through more than 130 air shows and flyovers. The team had its final show of the season Saturday at NAS Pensacola. Frosch's next assignment will remain in Pensacola at the Naval Education Training Command headquarters. (Post)

Okaloosa County Commissioners have unanimously backed a plan to spend $3 million over the next three years to bring a new airline to the Destin-Fort Walton Beach Airport. The money comes from the county bed tax reserves. Details have not been made available, but the airline would bring new areas of service to the airport. (Post)

Meanwhile, Okaloosa County plans to ask Eglin Air Force Base for significantly more flexibility in its lease and operation of Destin-Fort Walton Beach Airport. The 130-acre airport is at the base on land owned by the Air Force.

Three months ago the county said it could no longer afford the annual lease payment. Under the new agreement, the county would pay Eglin a flat fee of $400,000 year, and 50 cents per departing passenger for every passenger above the 400,000 mark. The county also plans to ask Eglin to allow the construction of a gas station or convenience store on airport property. (Post)

Lockheed Martin Aeronautics Co., Fort Worth, Texas, was awarded a $5.3 billion modification contract to the previously awarded low-rate initial production Lot IX F-35 advance acquisition contract.

This modification provides for the procurement of 41 F-35As, including 26 F-35As for the Air Force; six F-35As for Norway; seven F-35As for Israel; two F-35As for Japan; 12 F-35Bs, including six for the Marine Corps and six for the British Royal Navy; and two F-35Cs for the Navy.

Work will be done in Fort Worth (30 percent); El Segundo, Calif. (25 percent); Warton, United Kingdom (20 percent); Orlando, Fla. (10 percent); Nashua, N.H. (5 percent); Nagoya, Japan (5 percent); and Baltimore, Md. (5 percent), and is expected to be completed in December 2017.

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. (Post)

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