Saturday, July 30, 2016

Week in review (7/24 to 7/30)

Another test of the RS-25 rocket engine at Stennis Space Center, Miss., two more A320 orders that likely will involve the Airbus plant in Mobile, Ala.; a contract to upgrade Pensacola, Fla.-based Blue Angel jets to make the Super Hornets; and swarm of UAVs over the Gulf of Mexico were among the stories of interest to the Gulf Coast region during the week.

Here's your week in review:

The RS-25 developmental test engine No. 0528 that had to be shut down early in a test July 14 was fired up again Friday and had a successful 650-second test at NASA's Stennis Space Center. The test was on the A-1 Test Stand.

The earlier July 14 test of the same engine, also at the A-1 stand, had to be aborted after 193 seconds when there was an issue with the stand. No damage was done to the engine.

Four of these Aerojet Rocketdyne RS-25 engines, modified versions of the engines that were used in the Space Shuttle, will be used along with a pair of solid rocket boosters to lift the core stage of NASA's Space Launch System that will be used to send astronauts further into space than ever before. (Post)

NASA has a supply of RS-25 engines from the Space Shuttle program but has contracted with Aerojet Rocketdyne to build additional engines for SLS missions. All flight testing for SLS takes place at SSC, as will the core stage testing for the first integrated mission of SLS and NASA’s Orion spacecraft, Exploration Mission-1. The next scheduled RS-25 developmental test at SSC is set for Aug. 18.

Two new orders for Airbus A320 jets came in during the week, and some of that work will be done at the new Airbus plant at the Mobile Aeroplex.

JetBlue amended its purchase agreement with Airbus to include an additional 15 Airbus A321ceo passenger jets and 15 A321neo jetliners. The "neo" designation indicates it's a jet with the new, more fuel-efficient engine option.

JetBlue already operates A321s and has not yet announced its engine selection for the newly ordered aircraft, but engine work on the Mobile-built planes is done in Foley, across the river in Baldwin County. (Post)

In another announcement late in the week, Allegiant Travel Co., of Las Vegas, Nev., signed a purchase agreement for 12 Airbus A320 jets with the current engine option. The deal marks the first time the low-cost airline has purchased new aircraft from any manufacturer. Each will be powered by CFM56 engines from CFM International. (Post)

-- Earlier in the week, Alabama Commerce Secretary Greg Canfield said during the Economic Development Association of Alabama’s annual summer conference that the second largest growing industry sector in Alabama now is aerospace. He said the arrival of Airbus in Mobile will bring "great results for this region for months and years to come." The conference was in Orange Beach. (Post)

Blue Angels
The F/A 18 jets used by the Navy's Pensacola-based Blue Angels flight demonstration team will be upgraded and converted into Super Hornets.

The Boeing Co., St. Louis, Mo., on Monday was awarded $12 million contract to make modifications to the F/A 18 Hornet jets that will make them the more advanced Super Hornets.

Nearly 83 percent of the work will be done in St. Louis, and the rest in El Segundo, Calif., and is expected to be completed September 2017. The Naval Air Systems Command in Patuxent River, Md., is the contracting activity. (Post)

The Navy, beginning Friday, planned to conduct two technology demonstrations of swarming unmanned vehicles over the next nine weeks. In the first demonstration a "flock" of 30 unmanned aerial vehicles will fly over the Gulf of Mexico.

The LOCUST (Low-Cost UAV Swarming Technology), first demonstrated in 2014, use a tube launcher that can propel the 30 UAVs within two minutes. An information-sharing data link between the UAVs enables autonomous collaboration.

The unmanned systems were to form up and four break off and perform an unspecified task. The next demonstration in September will feature swarming unmanned surface vehicles. (Post)

Pratt and Whitney Military Engines, East Hartford, Conn., was awarded n $11.4 million modification to a previously awarded contract to exercises an option for the supplies and services to implement engineering changes to the Rolls Royce lift fan systems and engine ice protection system in support of the F-35 for the Marine Corps, Navy, Air Force and international partners.

Work will be done at Indianapolis, Ind. (97 percent); and Oklahoma City, Okla. (3 percent), and is expected to be completed in December 2017. This modification combines purchases for the Marine Corps, Navy, Air Force and international partners. 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)

The airport in New Orleans leads the Gulf Coast with the lowest average airfares of 10 commercial airports in the region. First quarter data from the Federal Aviation Administration's Bureau of Transportation Statistics shows Louis Armstrong International had an average fare of $324.90, the only airport in the region with a fare below the national average of $361.20.

The airports with average fare between $400 and $500 were Pensacola International Airport, $454.77, Northwest Florida Beaches International Airport, $463.41, Gulfport-Biloxi International Airport, $472.22, Hattiesburg/Laurel Regional Airport, $479.25, and Baton Rouge Metropolitan Airport, $489.30.

Three other airports had averages between $500 and $600. They were Destin-Fort Walton Beach Airport, $512.26, Mobile Regional Airport, $554.86, and Tallahassee International Airport, $574.79. Dothan Regional Airport had an average fare of $721.69. (Post)

-- Harris Corp., Colorado Springs, Colo., was awarded an $8.5 million contract modification for the Eglin Beam Steer Segment technology refresh, System Program Agency development and risk reduction efforts.

Contractor work includes establishing the BEAMSTR lab environment; conducting trade studies and analysis; prototyping solutions and reduce risk of implementation of the BEAMSTR replacement project.

Work will be done at Eglin Air Force Base and is expected to be complete by Oct. 31, 2017. (Post)

-- Retired Lt. Col. Richard E. Cole, the co-pilot who sat next to Jimmy Doolittle during the famous bombing run over Japan five months after Pearl Harbor, was scheduled to be on hand Saturday to dedicate the newly remodeled Doolittle Raiders exhibit at the Air Force Armament Museum.

The museum is just outside the gate at Eglin Air Force Base, Fla. During World War II the Doolittle Raiders trained at the base. Eighty airmen took off from the USS Hornet April 18, 1942 and dropped bombs on the Japanese homeland, an attack that helped lift U.S. morale. (Post)

L-3 Communications Corp. System Field Support, Madison, Miss., was awarded a $216.4 million contract modification for 12 months of continued contractor aircraft logistics support. Work will be done in Madison with an estimated completion date of July 31, 2017. … Vanquish Worldwide LLC, Maryville, Tenn., was awarded a $7.3 million contract modification for supply, maintenance and transportation for logistics support services, Fort Rucker, Ala., with an estimated completion date of Aug. 31, 2017.

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