Saturday, January 30, 2016

Week in revew (1/24 to 1/30)

Some operations and maintenance workers at NASA's Stennis Space Center in Mississippi and the Michoud Assembly Facility in New Orleans are losing their jobs. How many is unclear.

NASA combined the separate operations and maintenance contracts for the two facilities into one to save money. Jacobs Technology had held both contracts, but Syncom Space Services won the new contract.

As is the usual case, the new contractor hires back many of those who worked for the previous contractor. But in this case not as many workers are needed. There were about 800 workers handling operations and maintenance at the two facilities under the old contracts. The new contractor takes over Monday.

NATO will send five Global Hawks to Sigonella Air Base in Sicily this year. The drones are part of the Alliance Ground Surveillance system NATO is setting up in Italy amid growing regional and global concern about the presence of the Islamic State group across the Mediterranean in Libya. Fifteen NATO members are in the process of acquiring the Global Hawk surveillance systems. All variants of the Global Hawk are built in part in Moss Point, Miss. (Post)

JetBlue says it's ready to overhaul the cabins of its A320 jets. The restyling of all 130 of JetBlue’s A320s marks the first complete redesign of A320 interiors since JetBlue launched in 2000. JetBlue officials say the restyling is partially an attempt to make the A320 cabin interiors more like the interiors found on the airline’s newer A321s. JetBlue will receive the first Airbus A321 built in Mobile, Ala., later this year. (Post)

It may be that folks from this region lost interest in the U.S. aerial tanker since Boeing beat Airbus and won the contract a few years back, but I still follow the project. Boeing and Air Force aircrews successfully completed the KC-46A tanker’s first refueling flight last weekend over Washington state. The KC-46A offloaded 1,600 pounds of fuel to an F-16 flying at 20,000 feet. EADS, now Airbus, had competed for the refueling contract and planned to build the tankers in Mobile, Ala. Boeing won, and Airbus instead opted to build A320 series jetliners in Mobile. (Post)

An associate who will be doing a military column for future issues of the Gulf Coast Reporters’ League Business Quarterly told me in an email that the Navy's Blue Angels flight demonstration squadron is scheduled to perform a fly-over during the Feb. 7 Super Bowl in Santa Clara, Calif. The Blue Angels, home based in Pensacola, Fla., are currently training in California for the 2016 air show season.

In another matter, he said senior Hurlburt Field leaders will hold a town hall meeting in Marianna Feb. 4 over plans to increase the use of Marianna Municipal Airport for CV-22 Osprey training. Hurlburt Field has 15 CV-22s in its base inventory. The meeting will be at 2 p.m. inside the airport terminal building at 3689 Industrial Park Dr.

Saturday, January 23, 2016

Week in review (1/17 to 1/23)

In covering aerospace issues of interest to the Gulf Coast region, there's a lot happening that can pique my interest. One of those was the joint venture announced during the week involving GE Aviation and Praxair Surface Technologies.

The two companies entered into an agreement to form a joint venture for the development, support and application of specialized coatings that will be tailored for current and future engines made by GE Aviation along with those made by the joint venture CFM International, which involves GE Aviation and Snecma, part of France’s Safran. Those engines include the GE9X and LEAP engines.

The financial terms of the agreement were not disclosed, but Praxair Surface Technologies will be the majority member of the new venture, which is expected to begin operations in the second quarter of 2016.

The joint-venture company will expand its footprint with a new coatings plant in the Southeast United States, which will supplement the services provided to GE from Praxair’s Indianapolis facility and other global operations. (Post)

I got in touch with Praxair to find out where the plant would be located, because it struck me that with plans to start operations in the second quarter of 2016, the chances seem good that it will be at a plant already in operation. But perhaps not.

I was told that the location of the venture will be handled in a separate announcement.

Praxair Surface Technologies, with 2014 sales of .7 billion, provides high-performance coatings and technologies to the aviation, energy and other industries. Praxair Surface Coatings has an operation in Brevard and Charlotte, N.C., and Houston, Texas.

GE Aviation, an operating unit of GE, provides jet and turboprop engines, components and integrated systems for commercial, military, business and general aviation aircraft. In this region, GE Aviation has an engine parts manufacturing plant near Hattiesburg, Miss., and Auburn, Ala.

This is also the region where Airbus is building the A320 series of passenger jetliners. Some of those jetliners use engines built by CFM, a joint venture of GE Aviation and Snecma, part of France’s Safran, which also now has an operation in this region at the Mobile Aeroplex.

And just to add more tie-ins with aircraft propulsion systems, this is also the region where Rolls-Royce tests its Trent series of aircraft engines, and where commercial space companies and NASA test rocket engines. 

In other items of interest to the Gulf Coast during the week:

Aerial weapons
Raytheon Co., Tucson, Ariz., was awarded a not-to-exceed $14 million contract for research and development in support of increased capabilities for next-generation, air-launched, tactical missiles.

Raytheon will work to increase the number of missiles carried on a single sortie, increase the effectiveness of each missile, and enhance the platform survivability against all threats in an anti-access, area denial environment.

Two research concepts to fulfill these needs are the Small Advanced Capability Missile (SACM) and Miniature Self-Defense Munition (MSDM). The SACM will support affordable, highly lethal, small size and weight ordnance with advanced air frame design and synergistic control capabilities for air dominance enabling high air-to-air load-out.

The MSDM will support miniaturized weapon capabilities for air superiority by enabling close-in platform self-defense and penetration into contested anti-access/area denial environment with little to no impact to payload capacity.

Work will be performed at Tucson and is expected to be complete by Jan. 19, 2021. This award is the result of a competitive acquisition with four offers received.

Fiscal 2016 research, development, test and evaluation funds in the amount of $388,905 are being obligated at the time of award. Air Force Research Laboratory, Munitions Directorate, Eglin Air Force Base, Fla., is the contracting activity (Post)

Other contracts
General Atomics Aeronautical Systems Inc., Poway, Calif., was awarded a $34 million order to develop and field the Air Force Special Operations Command MQ-9 Medium Altitude Long Endurance Tactical (MALET) Lead-Off Hitter (LOH) software line. Work will be performed at Poway; Clovis, N.M.; and Ft. Walton Beach, Fla., and is expected to be complete by Feb. 28, 2018. Air Force Life Cycle Management Center, Wright-Patterson Air Force Base, Ohio, is the contracting activity. … Composite Engineering Inc., Sacramento, Calif., was awarded an $18.7 million modification to previously awarded contract for Air Force Subscale Aerial Target (AFSAT) Lots 11-13 production. Contractor will provide additional quantity of 21 AFSAT production units being produced under the basic contract (Lot 12) and the associated warranty. Work will be performed at Sacramento and is expected to be complete by Nov. 30, 2020. Air Force Life Cycle Management Center, Eglin Air Force Base, Fla., is the contracting activity. … PAE Applied Technologies LLC, Fort Worth, Texas, was awarded a $31.9 million modification to exercise the option on a previously awarded contract for Keesler Base Operations Support services. Work will be performed at Keesler Air Force Base, Miss., and is expected to be complete by Jan. 31, 2017. The 81st Contracting Squadron, Keesler Air Force Base, is the contracting activity.

Saturday, January 16, 2016

Week in review (1/10 to 1/16)

The week was filled with the awarding of contracts of interest to the Gulf Coast region, but there were several other news items during the week with a Gulf Coast connection. Here's your week in review:

Airbus Americas posted three more job openings at its new U.S. Manufacturing Facility at the Mobile Aeroplex in Mobile, Ala. They are customer manager; facilities specialist-industrial systems manager; and facilities specialist-infrastructure coordinator. The plant will produce the Airbus A320 series of jetliners, the company's most popular models. (Post)

Allegiant Air will begin operating out of Florida's Destin-Fort Walton Beach Airport. The non-stop service will begin service May 20 with direct flights between Destin-Fort Walton Beach Airport and the Cincinnati/Northern Kentucky International Airport. Then on June 2 it will offer direct flights between Destin-Fort Walton Beach and the MidAmerica St. Louis Airport. (Post)

Air Force Maj. Gen. Robert S. Williams has been nominated for appointment to the rank of lieutenant general and for assignment as commander, Continental U.S. North American Aerospace Defense Command Region, and commander, First Air Force (Air Forces Northern), Tyndall Air Force Base, Fla. Williams is currently serving as chief, Office of Military Cooperation; and senior defense official and defense attaché-Kuwait, U.S. Central Command, U.S. Embassy, Kuwait. (Post)

Rocket engines
Two contracts were awarded during the week for development of next-generation propulsion systems to replaced the Russian-built RD-180 engine for National Security Space launches.

ATK Launch Systems Inc. of Magna, Utah, was awarded a $47 million other transaction agreement for the development of three rocket propulsion system prototypes for the Evolved Expendable Launch Vehicle (EELV) program. This is for development of prototypes of the GEM 63XL strap-on solid rocket motor, the Common Booster Segment (CBS) solid rocket motor, and an Extendable Nozzle for Blue Origin’s BE-3U upper stage engine. (Post)

In addition, SpaceX of Hawthorne, Calif., was awarded a $33.7 million other transaction agreement for the development of the Raptor rocket propulsion system prototype for the Evolved Expendable Launch Vehicle (EELV) program.

An other transaction agreement was used in both cases in lieu of a standard procurement contract in order to leverage on-going investment by industry in rocket propulsion systems. This other transaction agreement requires shared cost investment by the companies and government. In the case of the SpaceX agreement, one of the work sites is Stennis Space Center, Miss. (Post)

Lockheed Martin Aeronautics Co., Fort Worth, Texas, was awarded a $28.8 milllion delivery order against a previously issued basic ordering agreement that provides for air vehicle retrofit modifications associated with the F-35A fuel tank overpressure engineering change proposal in support of the Air Force, and the governments of Australia, Italy, the Netherlands, and Norway.

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)

Northrop Grumman Corp., Aerospace Systems, San Diego, Calif., was awarded an $8 million modification to a previously issued cost-plus-fixed-fee contract to exercise an option for software sustainment services in support of MQ-8B Fire Scout unmanned aircraft systems.

Work will be performed in California and is expected to be completed in December 2016. The Naval Air Systems Command, Patuxent River, Md., is the contracting activity. Fire Scouts are built in part in Moss Point, Miss. (Post)

Other contracts
Raytheon Co.- Missile Systems, Tucson, Ariz., was awarded an $85.5 million contract for Griffin missiles and support. Work will be performed at Tucson and is expected to be complete by Jan. 31, 2017. Air Force Life Cycle Management Center, Eglin Air Force Base, Fla., is the contracting activity. … Scientific Systems Co. Inc., Woburn, Mass., was awarded a $11.6 million Small Business Innovation Research III contract for an advanced navigation system technology demonstration on Small Diameter Bomb (SDB) Increment I. Work will be performed at Woburn and is expected to be complete by Jan. 13, 2018. Air Force Lifecycle Management Center, Rapid Acquisition Cell, Eglin Air Force Base, Fla., is the contracting activity… Aktarius LLC, Panama City, Fla., was among a host of companies named in a $900 million multiple award task order contract for logistics and service support to the Joint Program Executive Office for Chemical and Biological Defense. Army Contracting Command, Aberdeen, Md., is the contracting activity. … NASA awarded Science Applications International Corp. of McLean, Va., a modification to the NASA Integrated Communications Services (NICS) contract which provides and manages the vast majority of NASA’s information technology (IT) communications infrastructure services. The contract will be administered by the NASA Shared Services Center (NSSC) at Stennis Space Center, Miss.

Saturday, January 9, 2016

Week in review (1/3 to 1/9)

First, let me thank all of the readers who took the time to look at our new regional quarterly business magazine, and for all the encouragement to keep it up. It's always gratifying when people like what you've done.

In case you missed it, the Gulf Coast Reporters’ League Business Quarterly was published Tuesday. It's done by the same people who produce our aerospace bimonthly, and covers business activities in the I-10 region between Baton Rouge, La., and Tallahassee, Fla.

It's old-style journalism, with all the content put together by experienced, mostly former newspaper staffers. It takes a broad view of the region between Baton Rouge, La., and Tallahassee, Fla., the I-10 corridor.

You won't have to wonder about the source of information. We don't mingle so-called sponsored content or advertorials with our news and feature stories. Our advertisers put in traditional ads that look like ads. We just happen to believe there are some new tricks old dogs don't need to learn.

Subscribers receive our magazine PDF delivered to their inbox, and fair warning, it’s a pretty big file. Our first issue was 74 pages, and the full PDF is more than 36MB, but we use a compression program that gets that down to under 6MB so it can be emailed. Intimidating? Perhaps. But you've got three months to read it before our next issue.

And we know there are some of you who still like the feel of print, something you can hold in your hands and doesn't have to be recharged. We work with a print-on-demand service that we've been using for nearly 10 years now and make that available as well. The printed magazine, however, will cost you some money. You can get it at cost -- we don't attach a royalty -- along with a shipping charge. Who knows. One day they might be collectors items.

Even if you don't subscribe to the emailed version, you can download either the large or small PDF at our website. We think you'll be glad you did.

Now here's your aerospace week in review:

How appropriate that right at the start of the year we have an Airbus-related story.

Airbus, which in September officially opened its first U.S. manufacturing facility in Mobile, Ala., is busily working on its first A320 series of aircraft, and slowly building its work force. It issued two releases during the week seeking candidates for new positions in Mobile. One is for a customs specialist and the other for two aircraft conformity managers. (Post)

The Airbus facility also attracted another supplier. During the week it was announced that Zodiac Aerospace of France has decided to set up shop close to the Airbus manufacturing plant at the Mobile Aeroplex.

Zodiac designs aircraft cabins and has some 30,000 workers at 100 sites. Mobile is its 25th in the United States, and it will start out very small, just five initially, who will focus on A320 cabin interiors, specifically seats.

Zodiac will occupy about 1,700 square feet of a 5,000-square-foot space already being used by Germany's Vartan Product Support. (Post)

Speaking of growth, global commercial aerospace subsector revenues are projected to increase by 3.4 percent in 2016, according to a new report released by Deloitte.

Continued demand for new  commercial aircraft, new technologies, strong passenger traffic, and military spending prompted by activity in the Middle East, will drive the growth, according to the report.

Deloitte’s projection for the commercial sector is based on forecasts from airframe manufacturers and several investment analyst reports. (Post)

Saturday, January 2, 2016

Return from hiatus (1/2/16)

As promised, I'm back with a new column now that the holidays are behind us and we've begun a new year. But this first column won't be a review of last week's aerospace activities. In fact, most of the items that appeared on our daily Gulf Coast aerospace news feed over the last couple of weeks were contracts of interest to the I-10 aerospace corridor.

Instead, I'm going to use this first column of 2016 to remind you that the Gulf Coast Reporters’ League Business Quarterly will be published Tuesday. It's compiled by the same journalists who produce our aerospace bimonthly and annual books. The new magazine covers business activities in the I-10 region between Baton Rouge, La., and Tallahassee, Fla.

And believe me, there's a lot of commerce in this region of some 4.4 million people. In fact, we decided to do this magazine after folks who follow our aerospace products said there was a need for a magazine that goes beyond aerospace.

In our first issue, we'll give our readers a better sense of the key business activities that form the foundation of the I-10 corridor’s economy. Yes, it clearly includes aerospace, but there's also shipbuilding, energy, tourism and much more.

We also have a story about the downtown central business districts in the region, and how they are undergoing a renaissance. There's also a piece about the Gulf of Mexico getting a boost in marine science research dollars as a result of the 2010 BP oil spill.

If you’re intrigued, you can take a look at our table of contents for the first issue. While you're there, go to the bottom of that page and sign up to have the 74-page first issue delivered to your email. It's free and your email is used for no other purpose. You can also get more information at