Saturday, October 29, 2016

Week in review (10/23 to 10/29)

Pensacola leaders were, understandably, overjoyed Friday when they had the ceremonial groundbreaking for the $46 million aircraft maintenance, repair and overhaul facility that will be built at Pensacola International Airport.

In addition to the construction jobs, the VT Mobile Aerospace Engineering hangar - which will be larger than the terminal building at the airport - will provide permanent jobs for some 400 aerospace workers, and it's likely to grow in the future.

About 100 invited guests showed up for the event, five years in the making, at a corner of the airport on what was a picture perfect day. The new operation at the airport is an expansion for VT MAE, owned by ST Engineering of Singapore. VT MAE has had a large operation at the Mobile Aeroplex since 1991.

Construction on the four-acre building in Pensacola will begin Monday and is scheduled to be finished by February 2018. (Post)

While it's being ballyhooed as marking Pensacola's entry into the growing aerospace segment of the economy, it's really just the latest, albeit highly publicized, addition to the Pensacola metropolitan area's aerospace sector.

For years the Pensacola MSA has been a key military aviation training center, includes the training of pilots. Pensacola and Milton have been the location for private companies that ensure the Navy can satisfy that mission. Take a look at "Keeping 'em flying still big business" in the April 2015 issue of the Gulf Coast Aerospace Corridor Newsletter.

You might also find interesting "The Rockhill Group continues to grow" in the February 2016 issue of the newsletter, about a former military pilot's startup that is having a high degree of success landing military contracts. Then take a look at "Small company with a big task" in the December 2014 issue of the newsletter, about Marianna Airmotive.

There's more, including "Avalex innovating in key security fields" in the February 2015 issue, a story about the Gulf Breeze-based company, and you might also find it interesting to read "TPR settles in, mulling expansion" in the August 2014 issue of the newsletter, and "Aircraft displays simplify flying" in the March 2014 issue.

And we're planning to do more stories in coming issues about these aviation-related businesses that don't get a lot of publicity, but are playing a key role.

Economic development
In Mobile, Ala., we found out during the week that France's Thales has joined the growing list of aerospace companies that have set up operations at the Mobile Aeroplex. Thales is involved in avionics, in-flight entertainment, aircraft connectivity and aircraft electrical systems.

"Our relationship with Thales spans more than a decade and when it requested a flexible and scaleable location to meet their current business case needs, we were more than happy to get to work," said Roger Wehner, executive director of the Mobile Airport Authority. (Post)

The Aeroplex is also the location of the Airbus A320 series manufacturing facility, which is now routinely building jetliners. The first U.S.-built Delta Air Lines Airbus A321 has been painted with the company's colors and has left the paint shop at the Airbus U.S. Manufacturing Facility.

The Delta jetliner is the 15th A321 produced by Airbus in Mobile since the start of operations in July 2015. Twelve aircraft have been delivered to customers thus far. MAAS Aviation completed the painting in its facility located on the Mobile Aeroplex at Brookley within the Airbus manufacturing facility campus. (Post)

Meanwhile, over in east central Mississippi, Raytheon announced Monday that it will assemble the T-100 trainer in Mississippi if the company wins the Air Force's T-X competition. The jet is a modified Aermacchi M-346. True, Meridian is a bit outside the immediate I-10 aerospace corridor, but it does show just how hot this broader region has become for aerospace.

The site in Meridian is near the airport was chosen because it has the infrastructure and is close to its customers. One newspaper said it would mean 450 jobs. Raytheon has manufactured products in Mississippi for more than three decades. Leonardo-Finmeccanica, CAE USA and Honeywell Aerospace have partnered with Raytheon to offer the T-100 to the U.S. Air Force. Also competing for the contract are Lockheed Martin, Boeing and Northrop Grumman. (Post)

JobsA host of companies were on hand to take applications from job-seekers Friday at the 8th annual CareerSource Escarosa job fair at Pensacola State College’s Jean and Paul Amos Performance Studio. Among the companies are VT Mobile Aerospace Engineering, Eastridge Workforce Solutions, and Navy Federal Credit Union. EWS is hiring people to build solar energy farms that are part of a partnership between regional military bases and Gulf Power. (Post)

Northrop Grumman Systems Corp., San Diego, Calif., was issued a $10.4 million modification to a previously awarded contract for production of one MQ-8C Fire Scout unmanned air system. Moss Point, Miss., will do 16 percent of the work. Other work sites are San Diego, Ozark, Ala., and Fort Worth, Texas. Work will be completed in August 2019. … PAE Aviation and Technical Services LLC, Marlton, N.J., was awarded a $14.9 million modification to a previously awarded contract. The contractor will provide maintenance of aerial targets, and operations and maintenance of range instrumentation systems at Tyndall Air Force Base, Fla.; and maintenance of full-scale aerial targets at Holloman AFB, N.M. This includes functional and quality assurance support for the Aerial Targets Program, which directly supports live-fire weapons system testing and enables the 53rd Weapons Evaluation Group in the developmental and operational weapons testing for all air-to-air missiles and for the F-22, F-35, F-16, and F-15 aircraft. Work is expected to be complete by Sept. 30, 2017.

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