Saturday, December 31, 2016

Week in review (12/25 to 12/31)

This is the time of year that we reflect on the past and look forward to the future. So this is as good a time as any to provide you with some insight into this weekly column, our aerospace news feed and our other efforts to highlight aerospace activities in the Gulf Coast region.

Since we started the Gulf Coast Aerospace Corridor daily news report in 2008, we've posted close to 5,000 news briefs and are approaching a quarter-million page views. We'll hit that mark in the coming year. In 2016, we posted 340 news briefs and had well over 39,000 page views. For December, we had 31 news briefs and over 9,500 page views.

Most of the news feed audience has been from the United States, but we have a substantial audience in Russia, Germany, France and Italy, and to a lesser extent the United Kingdom and China.

As for this weekly column, I’ve posted more than 430 since I started it in 2008, with more than 93,000 page views. Interestingly, most of the column audience is from Italy, followed by the United States, Germany, Russia and France.

Of course, those numbers are pretty modest in the world of internet traffic, but aerospace is a niche topic, and we target only those who care about aerospace and aviation. But the number of posts indicates just how much activity we have in the Gulf Coast region, and the domestic and foreign audience shows there's growing interest in what we do here in the region between Southeast Louisiana and Northwest Florida.

And what we do goes beyond the digital news and column. We also have produced 18 eight-page aerospace newsletters since 2013, along with one four-page out-of-cycle special report. We already have a special report planned for January. We've also produced five annual aerospace reference books since 2011. Now we're producing the books every-other-year and will be publishing our sixth one in June 2017. We do know that some groups from this region have brought the books to international air shows.

All things considered, if you want to do research on aerospace in this region, you'll find us a valuable source. We have an archive of aerospace news briefs dating to 2005. Interestingly, the first brief in the archive was about the search by Airbus, then called EADS, for a site to build Air Force tankers. The tanker project went to Boeing and Washington state, but as you know, Airbus is now producing A320 series jetliners in our region.

I would be remiss if I didn't take this opportunity to thank the groups that believe in the value of our work and have been consistent underwriters. Santa Rosa Economic Development, Gulf Power, Mobile Airport Authority and FloridaWest were year-long underwriters in 2016 for all of our aerospace products. Without them, we could not provide the aerospace feeds, newsletters or books.

I also want to heap praise on all the Gulf Coast Reporters' League associates, all of them highly experienced journalists, who provided our content. The associates as a group have more than 500 years of newspaper experience. With a team like that, no wonder we're getting noticed. So on that note, I want to wish all of you a very happy and prosperous 2017.

Now for your week in review:

Lockheed Martin Aeronautics Co., Fort Worth, Texas, was awarded two contracts during the week in connection with the F-35. In one, the company was awarded a $450 million modification to the previously awarded low-rate initial production Lot 10 F-35 advance acquisition contract.

This modification continues the integration work to implement the development and delivery of the F-35A Air System to the Republic of Korea under the Foreign Military Sales program. This effort will also provide for non-recurring engineering work.

Work will be performed in Fort Worth and is expected to be completed in August 2019. The Naval Air Systems Command, Patuxent River, Md., is the contracting activity. (Post)

In another contract, Lockheed Martin was awarded $19.3 million modification to a previously awarded contract to procure, deliver, and install a deployable mission rehearsal trainer in support of F-35. The Naval Air Systems Command in Maryland is the contracting activity. (Post)

Eglin Air Force Base, Fla., as you know, is home of the F-35 integrated training center.

In another contract that has nothing to do with the F-35, Lockheed Martin Corp. - Rotary and Mission Systems, Orlando, Fla., was awarded a $20 million modification to a previously awarded contract for training system support center services.

The contractor will provide software and hardware support, monitor modification work, obsolescence monitoring and identification, and overall system operation reporting. Hurlburt Field, Fla., and Keesler Air Force Base, Miss., are two of the sites where the work will be performed. Other sites are in Arkansas, Texas, New Mexico, Georgia, Arizona, North Carolina, California, the United Kingdom, Japan, and Germany.

Work is expected to be complete by Dec. 29, 2017. Air Force Life Cycle Management Center, Wright-Patterson AFB, Ohio, is the contracting activity. (Post)

Other contracts
The Boeing Co., St. Louis, Mo., was awarded $308.3 million for modification to a previously awarded cost reimbursement contract to provide for the engineering change proposal integration of Next Generation Jammer (NGJ) Pod onto the EA-18G aircraft. Fort Walton Beach, Fla., is one of the sites were work will be performed. Other sites are in Missouri, New York, Oklahoma, California, Arizona, and Maryland and is expected to be completed in December 2021. … CAE USA Inc., Tampa, Fla., was awarded a $50 million contract for rotary wing flight training instructor support services. Work will be performed at Fort Rucker, Ala., with an estimated completion date of March 31, 2026. Army Contracting Command, Fort Rucker, is the contracting activity.

Saturday, December 17, 2016

Week in review (12/11 to 12/17)

I usually don't lead off my column with something that's non-aerospace, but in this case it's interesting enough and has a Gulf Coast tie that's important to note.

An underwater drone operated by the Naval Oceanographic Office at Stennis Space Center, Miss., was seized Dec. 15 by China in the South China Sea. The Pentagon called upon China to immediately return the unmanned underwater vehicle that was collecting military oceanographic data such as salinity and water temperature. China has said it will return the vehicle, but is blaming the U.S. for "hyping" the issue.

The unclassified ocean glider, commercially available and sells for about $150,000, was being retrieved by the survey ship USNS Bowditch (T-AGS 62) when the drone was seized by China's PRC DALANG II-Class ship (ASR-510) about 50 nautical miles northwest of Subic Bay, Philippines.

The Chinese ship launched a small boat and retrieved the UUV conducting a routine operation. Bowditch made contact with the PRC Navy ship via bridge-to-bridge radio to request the return of the UUV. The radio contact was acknowledged by the PRC Navy ship, but the request was ignored. Only later did China say it would return the drone.

The gliders are piloted by civilian workers at the oceanographic office at Stennis Space Center. The office has more than 130 such UUVs. The pilots use encrypted satellite communications to link up to the drones, which travel just a few miles per hour and are tracked by oceanographic vessels like Bowditch. You can read the story we posted on our shipbuilding/maritime news feed here. 

Some years back when I was writing for a Mississippi client I wrote at length about the underwater drones operated by the Naval Oceanographic Office. I remember at the time thinking how fascinating it was the pilots sitting at an office at NASA’s Stennis Space Center controlled all of these underwater drones.

In aerospace-related news during the week:

Continental Motors said it's joining other members of the Mobile Aeroplex and the Mobile Airport Authority Foundation to contribute to a STEM initiative that will sponsor 36 students to attend the National Flight Academy's six-day deployment program in June 2017.

The program at the National Museum of Naval Aviation at Naval Air Station Pensacola, Fla., begins on a landlocked, virtual aircraft carrier, AMBITION. Students live aboard the carrier surrounded by advanced technologies and virtual reality missions that encourage learning. On board they participate in activities that demonstrate the practical uses of STEM skills. (Post)

The 300th A320 to come off the assembly line at the Airbus Tianjin Delivery Center was delivered to China Development Bank Financial Leasing Co. Ltd. Thursday and turned over to Sichuan Airlines.

Inaugurated in 2008, the Tianjin assembly line has reached its phase I production target of four aircraft per month. The assembly line is a joint venture between Airbus, Tianjin Airport Economic Area Zone and Tianjin Port Free Trade Administrative Committee, and the state-owned Aviation Industry Corporation of China (AVIC). The partners have agreed to extend the joint venture until 2025 for phase II.

The Chinese assembly line was the third A320 final assembly line in the world and the first outside Europe. It delivered its first aircraft in June 2009. The fourth A320 family assembly line was established in Mobile, Ala., and has delivered 15 aircraft so far. Airbus anticipates it will deliver four aircraft per month in Mobile by the end of 2017. (Post)

The Gulf Coast Reporters League Aerospace Newsletter was published earlier in the week. You can read a piece on how president-elect Donald Trump’s stated views bode well for military aerospace and defense in the Gulf Coast region, but there is more uncertainty when it comes to commercial aviation, private space companies and NASA. (Post)

There's also a story about the fifth aerospace summit held last month in Gulfport, Miss., where the message was really quote upbeat. One participant things the longevity of the alliance provides a lesson in other cooperative marketing ventures for the region. (Post)

Finally, there's a story about the new $46 million VT MAE maintenance, repair and overhaul operation being built in Pensacola, Fla., that could wind up being for more important for the growth of the aerospace sector than some might think. (Post)

Lockheed Martin Aeronautics Co., Fort Worth, Texas, was awarded a $181.2 million modification to a previously awarded contract for recurring logistics services of F-35 aircraft in support of the Air Force, Navy, Marine Corps, non-Department of Defense (DoD) participants and foreign military sales (FMS) customers. The Naval Air Systems Command, Patuxent River, Md., is the contracting activity. … Primus Solutions, LLC, Beltsville, Md., was awarded a $12.6 million contract modification for refuel and defuel services. Work will be performed at Fort Rucker, Ala., with an estimated completion date of Dec. 16, 2017. Army Contracting Command, Fort Rucker, is the contracting activity.

Saturday, December 10, 2016

Week in review (12/4 to 12/10)

The December issue of the bimonthly aerospace corridor newsletter will publish Tuesday, and you won't want to miss it.

While we usually have four articles in each eight-page newsletter, this time there are three. That's because we had given four pages rather than the usual two to a story about what the Trump presidency might mean for the Gulf Coast aerospace and defense corridor.

We also have an article about the upbeat messages that came during November’s Aerospace Alliance Summit in Gulfport, and another story about the groundbreaking for the VT MAE facility in Pensacola. We'll tell you why there's reason to believe it will be a catalyst for more growth.

If you would like the newsletter delivered to your inbox, drop me a line and I’ll add you to the distribution list. Or you can download it next week the Gulf Coast Aerospace Corridor or Gulf Coast Reporters' League websites..

Now for your week in review:

Delta Air Lines took delivery of its first U.S.-built A321 during a week ago Friday at the Airbus U.S. Manufacturing Facility at the Mobile Aeroplex. Attending were executives from Airbus and Delta Air Lines, a team of employees from the airline’s Minneapolis-St. Paul station, and representatives of the more than 370 employees at the facility. This is the jetliner that made a flyover at the Iron Bowl in late November. It’s the 14th A321 to join Delta's fleet. The plant has delivered 15 aircraft so far since its opening. Airbus anticipates delivering four aircraft per month at Mobile by the end of 2017. (Post)

-- While we'e on the topic of airlines, American Airlines will launch daily nonstop service between Pensacola International Airport (PNS) and Ronald Reagan Washington National Airport (DCA) on April 4, 2017. Flights are scheduled to depart Pensacola daily at 11 a.m. and arrive in Washington DC at 2 p.m. Washington National becomes Pensacola International Airport’s twelfth destination, the fourth daily nonstop served by American Airlines. American previously offered weekend service only. (Post)

More than 50 aircraft from six installations are at Tyndall Air Force Base, Fla., for the training exercises Checkered Flag and Combat Archer. The Air Combat Command live-fire training runs Dec. 5-16 and includes F-35A, F-22, F-15E, F-16, HH-60G and E-3 aircraft. Assets have traveled from as far away as Mountain Home Air Force Base, Idaho, and Tinker Air Force Base, Okla. Also involved are aircraft from Eglin Air Force Base, Fla., Shaw Air Force Base, S.C., Moody Air Force Base, Ga., and Florida Air National Guard and Louisiana ANG. Combat Archer evaluates weapons systems specifically in air-to-air exercises. (Post)

- In another training-related story, the 53d Wing and 49th Wing alongside veterans, retirees and community members will bid farewell Dec. 21 to the last active duty F-4 Phantom II airframes – this one a QF-4 aerial drone – in a ceremony at Holloman Air Force Base, N.M. The QF-4 aerial targets are currently assigned to the 82 Aerial Target Squadron, Detachment 1 at Holloman, a geographically separated unit of the 53rd Wing at Eglin Air Force Base, Fla. (Post)

Raytheon Co., Goleta, Calif., was awarded a $102 million contract for repair support of 10 weapon replaceable assemblies for the AN/ALR-67(V)3 for F/A-18 A/B/C/D/E/F aircraft. The contractor is also responsible for managing technical and configuration changes, and obsolescence. This is a four-year base period contract with a one one-year option period, which if exercised, brings the total estimated value to $128,175,612. Forest, Miss., will do 7 percent of the work. Other work sites are in California, Florida, Pennsylvania, Arizona and New Hampshire. Work is expected to be completed by December 2020. … Booz Allen Hamilton, McLean Va.; Deloitte Consulting LLP, Arlington, Va.; Reef Point Group LLC, Edgewater, Md.; and Whitney, Bradley & Brown Inc., Reston, Va., were awarded $45.8 million multiple award contracts in support of the Bureau of Medicine and Surgery of Falls Church, Va., for the Military Health System at its headquarters, medical treatment facilities, the Defense Health Agency, and the health systems for the Army, Navy, and Air Force. Four percent of the work will be done in Pensacola, Fla. Other work sites are in Virginia, California, Washington, North Carolina, other locations in Florida, Japan; Guam; Europe and contractor facilities. ... Dawson Enterprises LLC, Honolulu, Hawaii, was awarded a $21.4 million contract for construction of modular buildings. Contractor will provide all site preparation and construction of modular buildings. Work will be performed at Eglin Air Force Base, Fla., and is expected to be complete by Aug. 31, 2017. Air Force Test Center, Eglin Air Force Base, is the contracting activity.