Saturday, March 19, 2016

Week in review (3/13 to 3/19)

By any measure, what will happen Monday in Mobile, Ala., is historic for the aviation industry.

That's when the first Airbus jetliner produced in the United States is scheduled to fly for the first time as part of its testing program. The A321, built for JetBlue at the Airbus U.S. Manufacturing Facility at the Mobile Aeroplex, is scheduled to take off at 9:15 a.m. CDT, barring any weather or other pre-flight factors that might delay the flight.

A test flight is a normal step in aircraft production and takes place prior to the delivery of the aircraft to the customer. Following the flight, the aircraft will go through a few more weeks of final delivery preparations. (Post)

We've been following Airbus from the time it was still known as EADS and was looking for a place in the United States to build aerial tankers for the U.S. Air Force. That was back in 2005. It lost that contest to Boeing, but it did like what it saw in Mobile and in 2012 announced it would build A320 series jetliners there.

Now here we are in 2016, and the first plane has been built and will take to the skies. It is exciting.

In another Airbus-related item during the week, the Mobile Airport Authority and Recaro Aircraft Seating Co. signed an agreement for Recaro to open an office at the Mobile Aeroplex, where Airbus has its manufacturing plant.

Recaro ranks among the world's top three aircraft seat manufacturers. The company operates plants in Germany, Poland, South Africa, the United States and China as well as service centers in Europe, the Middle East, the Americas, Asia and Australia. In Mobile, the Recaro operation will be in the Aerospace Incubator.

Recaro is based in Schwabisch, Germany, and has 1,900 workers worldwide. Recaro is one of more than a dozen suppliers that have opened operations at the Aeroplex since Airbus announced it would build an assembly line for A320 series jetliners in Mobile. (Post)

Meanwhile to the east in Florida, Mayor Ashton Hayward announced that the city of Pensacola has been successful in securing $1 million in funding for the Pensacola International Airport Commerce Park.

The park is owned and operated by the city of Pensacola and has more than 350 acres available for development. VT MAE, which has an MRO operation in Mobile, Ala., plans to open a satellite operation at the park that will employ about 300 workers. That operation is being put on land already owned by the airport, land that’s not a part of this purchase. (Post)

Raytheon Co., Tucson, Ariz., was awarded a $573 million modification to exercise the option on a previously awarded contract. The contractor will provide Advanced Medium Range Air to Air Missile (AMRAAM) production Lot 30 and other AMRAAM system items. Work will be performed at Tucson and is expected to be complete by Feb. 28, 2019. Air Force Life Cycle Management Center, Air Dominance Contracting Office, Eglin Air Force Base, Fla., is the contracting activity. … Lockheed Martin Missiles and Fire Control, Grand Prairie, Texas, was awarded a $14 million contract for research, analysis, engineering, development of specialized munitions. Work will be performed at Grand Prairie and is expected to be complete by March 16, 2021. The Air Force Research Laboratory, Munitions Directorate, Eglin Air Force Base, Fla., is the contracting activity.

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