Saturday, November 25, 2017

Week in review (11/19 to 11/25)

L3 Crestview Aerospace, an aeronautical manufacturer that employs more than 500 people at its operation in Crestview, is up for sale. The Crestview plant manufactures and modifies cabins, fuselages, tail booms and other parts for commercial and military aircraft. L3 Crestview Aerospace also includes a plant in Chihuahua, Mexico, that produces sheet metal and parts for commercial aircraft structures. It’s part of a move by New York-based L3 Technologies to focus on more profitable businesses.

L3 initially announced its intent to sell Vertex Aerospace, which includes Crestview Aerospace, a couple of weeks ago. The announcement that Crestview Aerospace is for sale does not mean that layoffs or other job actions at the company’s local facility are imminent, said L3 spokesman Lance Martin. (Post)

WIRED takes a look behind the scenes at five NASA facilities, including Michoud and Stennis Space Center, to capture how engineers build and test in preparation for the 2019 launch of the most powerful rocket ever built, the Space Launch System. (Post)

Air Force Col. Michael E. Martin has been nominated for appointment to the rank of brigadier general. Martin is currently serving as the commander, 24th Special Operations Wing, Air Force Special Operations Command, Hurlburt Field, Fla. His was among a series of appointments made by the president and announced last week by Secretary of Defense Jim Mattis. (Post)

Raytheon Co. - Missile Systems, Tucson, Ariz., was awarded a $59.7 million contract for Enhanced Paveway II's support equipment and support hours. Work will be performed at Tucson, with an expected completion date of Feb. 28, 2019. Air Force Life Cycle Management Center, Eglin Air Force Base, Fla., is the contracting activity. … ArĂȘte Associates, Tucson, Ariz., was awarded a $7.5 million modification to a previously awarded contract to provide Coastal Battlefield Reconnaissance and Analysis (COBRA) program systems support for the AN/DVS-1 COBRA Block 1 system and support equipment. Work will be performed in Tucson and is expected to be completed by December 2018. The Naval Surface Warfare Center Panama City Division, Panama City, Fla., is the contracting activity.

Sunday, November 19, 2017

Week in review (11/12 to 11/18)

Another company signs up to test engines at Stennis Space Center, Miss., a huge A320 purchase will be a boost for the Mobile Airbus facility, the V-22 fleet has topped 400,000 flight hours, and more details on the C Series that will be build in Mobile were among the news items of interest to the Gulf Coast Aerospace Corridor during the week.

Here’s your week in review:

Space Stratolaunch will test engines at NASA's Stennis Space Center in South Mississippi. That's according to an agreement signed in September. NASA published the agreement on its website as part of a provision in a NASA authorization act signed into law this year to disclose such agreements. An annex to that agreement specifies that it involves "testing of its propulsion system test article element 1" at Stennis's E1 test stand.

That facility has supported engine tests by a number of companies in the past under similar agreements that provide access to test stands there on a non-exclusive basis. Stratolaunch plans to deliver the test article to Stennis for "fit tests and checkouts" by the end of May 2018, with the test series completed by the end of 2018. Stratolaunch will pay NASA $5.1 million under the reimbursable agreement to cover costs of the test campaign, including an upfront payment of $1 million. (Post)

The A320 assembly line at the Mobile Aeroplex, which was already scheduled to build jetliners for Frontier Airlines starting next year, will now build even more thanks to a major deal between Airbus and Indigo Partners.

A memorandum of understanding was signed between Airbus and Indigo Partners for 430 additional A320neo aircraft. The commitment is comprised of 273 A320neos and 157 A321neos worth $49.5 billion at list price. The agreement was announced at the Dubai Airshow.

"Any A320 order placed anywhere in the world is good for Mobile because it means a strong order book and solidifies the U.S. Manufacturing Facility's role in Airbus' global production network," wrote Kristi Tucker of Airbus' Mobile operation, in an email. "It's extra special when there's a direct connection to the order, such as this one." (Post)

The aircraft would go to airlines in Indigo's investment portfolio: Frontier Airlines of the U.S., Mexico's Volaris, European carrier Wizz Air Holdings and JetSmart, which began operating this year in Chile. Airbus builds the A320 family of jetliners in Toulouse, France; Hamburg, Germany; Tianjin, China; and Mobile, Ala. (Post)

C Series
Bombardier Inc. is forecasting it plans to spend $300 million on its C Series assembly facility in Mobile, Ala., creating as many as 2,000 jobs in the U.S. Airbus and Canada-based Bombardier announced in October that they had agreed to form a partnership to build Bombardier's C Series passenger jets in Mobile.

The C series project would create 400 to 500 direct jobs and 550 to 700 indirect jobs at supplier and support companies. The forecast was part of a regulatory filing. Still to be determined is the fate of the proposed import duties of 300 percent on the C Series tentatively imposed by the U.S. Department of Commerce in response to a price-dumping claim made by Boeing. (Post)

The Bell Boeing V-22 fleet of tiltrotor aircraft, including both CV-22 and MV-22 variants, has surpassed the 400,000-flight hour milestone. The V-22 Osprey has been continuously deployed since entering service in 2007 with the United States Marine Corps and Air Force Special Operations Command in 2009.

The Bell Boeing V-22 Osprey is a joint service, multirole combat aircraft that uses tiltrotor technology to combine the vertical performance of a helicopter with the speed and range of a fixed-wing aircraft. With its nacelles and rotors in vertical position, it can take off, land and hover like a helicopter. Once airborne, its nacelles can be rotated to transition the aircraft to a turboprop airplane capable of high-speed, high-altitude flight. (Post)

-- Capt. Ryan Bernacchi turned over command of the Navy Blue Angels to Cmdr. Eric Doyle at a ceremony last Sunday at the Blue Angels Atrium inside the National Naval Aviation Museum at Naval Air Station Pensacola. About 500 people attended the event. (Post)

-- Air Force Col. William W. Whittenberger Jr. has been nominated for appointment to the rank of brigadier general. Whittenberger is currently serving as the mobilization assistant to the director of strategic plans, programs and requirements, U.S. Air Force Special Operations Command, Hurlburt Field, Fla. His was among a series of appointments made by the president and announced today by Secretary of Defense Jim Mattis. (Post)

The Boeing Co., St. Louis, Mo., was awarded an $11.3 million modification to a previously awarded contract for QF-16 full-scale aerial target lot 5B. Work will be performed in St. Louis, with an estimated completion date of April 27, 2021. Air Force Life Cycle Management Center, Eglin Air Force Base, Fla., is the contracting activity. … Bell-Boeing JPO, Amarillo, Texas, was awarded $10 million modification to a previously issued task order, placed against a basic ordering agreement. This modification provides for field representative and logistics support services in support of the V-22 aircraft for the government of Japan. Work will be performed at Camp Kisarazu, Japan (85 percent); Philadelphia, Pa. (11 percent); and Fort Walton Beach, Fla. (4 percent), and is expected to be completed in December 2019. 

Saturday, November 11, 2017

Week in review (11/5 to 11/11)

A leadership change at Airbus Americas, the return of an Air Force squadron to full operational capability, large military training exercises, an Apollo-era artifact at Infinity Science Center, updates on the F-35, and plans for a new terminal were among the news items during the week of interest to the Gulf Coast aerospace corridor.

But before we get to your week in review, let me extend my gratitude to all my fellow veterans for their service. I come from a family with a long tradition of serving in the military. We've served in every branch, from one hitch to long careers, so this day is particularly important to my extended family. Thank you all.

Now for your week in review:

C. Jeffrey Knittel will become chairman and chief executive at Herndon, Va.-based Airbus Americas early next year. Knittel will replace Airbus Americas CEO Barry Eccleston, who is retiring Feb. 28, 2018.

Allan McArtor, chairman of Airbus Americas, will remain with the company as chairman emeritus. Knittel, who brings more than 25 years of global aerospace leadership experience to the position, will join the company at its Americas headquarters Jan. 12. (Post)

The 815th Airlift Squadron has completed its quest to reach full operational capability, four years after the squadron’s future was uncertain. The squadron and its C-130J Flying Jennies are again ready to deploy and provide combat-ready airmen for airlift mission.

As part of the National Defense Authorization Act of 2013, the Air Force announced plans to transfer 10 of the Air Force Reserve 403rd Wing's C-130J aircraft. But two years later the Secretary of the Air Force reversed that recommendation, beginning the programming and budgeting work to restore personnel and mission capability at Keesler Air Force Base, Miss. (Post)

-- Personnel and equipment from Air Force installations across the country have converged on Tyndall Air Force Base in Northwest Florida to participate in Checkered Flag 18-1, a two-week, large-scale exercise that integrates the war-fighting capabilities of fourth-and fifth-generation aircraft. It’s being held with the concurrently running Weapons Systems Evaluation Program, Combat Archer.

"What we have in our Checkered Flag airspace is an over water range that affords us the opportunity to be fully supersonic down to the ground," said Air Force Lt. Col. Daniel Lee, 44th Fighter Group deputy commander and Checkered Flag 18-1 Air Expeditionary Wing vice commander. "This is not a capability that we have on a large scale at any other ranges within the United States."

The exercise wraps up Nov. 17. (Post)

An early artifact of America's moon program is on display in Mississippi’s Infinity Science Center. It’s the command module from Apollo 4, an unmanned 1967 mission that successfully demonstrated the full Saturn V rocket and the capsule that would carry men to the moon.

The command module is on long-term loan from the Smithsonian Institution’s National Air & Space Museum. The display is part of a redesign of the museum's space exhibits. The Saturn V rocket was among those tested at neighboring Stennis Space Center.

The 8,000-pound module was stored for five years at Stennis out of public view. (Post)

-- As the Senate Commerce Committee prepares to advance his nomination as NASA administrator to the full Senate, Jim Bridenstine offered pledges of continuity for many key agency programs. Bridenstine said he believed the Space Launch System and Orion programs are critical to the agency’s exploration plans, as well as contributions from commercial space ventures. (Post)

The 53rd Electronic Warfare Group’s Partner Support Complex delivered the F-35 mission data file to Norway Oct. 26. This is the first overseas delivery of Block 3F mission data to a foreign nation and was accomplished in anticipation of Norway’s first F-35s, which arrived last week and will be marked by a Nov.10 ceremony there.

The delivery of Block 3F mission data enables the F-35 to accomplish its primary missions of air interdiction, close air support, and suppression and destruction of enemy air defenses. Mission data files enable the aircraft to know what threats to search for and when, providing the F-35 its means of deciphering the environment.

The men and women of the PSC are charged with programming this essential mission data software for eight F-35 partner nations, to include Norway, Australia, Canada, the United Kingdom, Italy, the Netherlands, Turkey, and Denmark. (Post)

-- Lockheed Martin Aeronautics Co., Fort Worth, Texas, was awarded a $34.6 million contract for weapons capabilities technology maturation and risk reduction pre-engineering, manufacturing and development activities for dual-capability F-35 Lightning II joint strike fighter aircraft and small-diameter bomb 2 (SDB-II) in support of the Marine Corps and Air Force.

Work will be performed in Fort Worth, Texas, and is expected to be completed in July 2018. This contract was not competitively procured pursuant to Federal Acquisition Regulation 6.302-1. 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)

Design details for a new 120,000-square-foot, $90 million terminal at Louisiana’s Lafayette Regional Airport were unveiled during the week at the airport commission’s regular meeting.

Lafayette Regional Airport was the fourth busiest in Louisiana in 2016 in terms of enplanements, according to the Federal Aviation Administration, but Airport Director Steven Picou said it operates with the smallest square-footage.

The airport in Lafayette, site of a Bell Helicopter facility, is along Interstate 10 west of New Orleans. (Post)

Reliance Test & Technology, Crestview, Fla., was awarded a $48 million modification to a previously awarded contract for Eglin operation and maintenance services. Work will be performed at Eglin test and training complex, Eglin Air Force Base, Fla., with an expected completion date of Sept. 30 2026. Air Force Test Center, Eglin Air Force Base, is the contracting activity. … Raytheon Co. Missile Systems Division, Tucson, Ariz., was awarded a $17.3 million modification to a previously awarded contract for High-Speed Anti-Radiation Missile Targeting System (HTS) contractor logistics support (CLS) services. Work will be performed in Tucson, with an estimated completion date of Nov. 30, 2018. Air Force Life Cycle Management Center, Eglin Air Force Base, Fla., is the contracting activity.

Saturday, November 4, 2017

Week in review (10/29 to 11/4)

A new tenant and more jobs at Michoud Assembly Facility, an award for Eglin's F-35 reprogramming office, and new air service at two of the region’s airports were among the Gulf Coast region's aerospace stories during the week.

Here's your week in review:

A new tenant is moving in and another expanding at Michoud Assembly Facility (MAF) in east New Orleans. Sinter Metal Technologies, a global supplier of metal and ceramic parts based in Liechtenstein, will move some of its operations into the facility. The company intends to invest $5 million in a new sintering facility at MAF to bond powder-based metals, material that will be used to make strong precision parts. The plan will create 15 new jobs.

Advanced Cutting Solutions, which specializes in kit-cutting tough materials like fiberglass, Kevlar and dry carbon, is expanding its presence at the facility, adding 30 new jobs. Gov. John Bel Edwards and NASA Marshall Space Flight Center Director Todd May joined a host of local and state officials Wednesday to announce the jobs. State leaders also announced plans for an aerospace program at nearby Nunez Community College to train students for careers at MAF and other regional employers. (Post)

-- Dozens of interested business representatives gathered at the Renaissance Mobile Riverview Plaza Hotel in Mobile, Ala., during the week for a NASA Business Forum. Officials from Marshall Space Flight Center in Huntsville, Stennis Space Center and NASA Shared Services in South Mississippi, as well as representatives from prime contractors attended the event. NASA is committed to handing out hundreds of millions of dollars to small businesses every year, either through direct contracts or as subcontractors to the primes. (Post)

-- Rolls-Royce late last month celebrated 10 years at Stennis Space Center, Miss., where it operates an outdoor jet engine test facility. Rolls-Royce General Manager Hamish Guthrie said the company employs 46 people locally, and expects that number to rise in the future due to the demand of the company’s aircraft engines. Guthrie said employees have logged more than 7,000 hours testing engines. Rolls-Royce, which opened its first stand in 2007, added a second test stand in 2013. (Post)

The 53rd Wing's 513th Electronic Warfare Squadron last month was awarded the Outstanding Scientist/Engineer Team of 2017 for work on the F-35A Initial Operational Capability delivery at Eglin Air Force Base.

This Air Force Science, Technology, Engineering and Math annual award recognizes the efforts and achievements of scientists and engineers who make significant contributions to technology and engineering. For the last seven years, 513th EWS airmen and sailors of the F-35's U.S. Reprogramming Laboratory have been doing just that.

Supercomputers, referred to as sensor fusion, make up the F-35's brain. That brain provides the fighter with unique capabilities, making it more lethal, survivable and adaptable than any fighter aircraft on Earth, according to the Secretary of Air Force Public Affairs. However, without 513th EWS personnel inputting critical mission data into the F-35, sensor fusion wouldn’t work as intended. The aircraft wouldn’t know what threats to search for or when.

In the electronic warfare world, engineers refer to this ability to understand the world, the ability to sift through stimuli and make informed decisions about how to react, as mission data software. This software helps compile countless pieces of information about the environment the F-35 will fly into. It also creates within the F-35's brain the means of deciphering that environment.

The men and women of the 513th EWS program this essential mission data software, thus teaching the F-35 how to distinguish between stimuli and making it efficient, intelligent and lethal. (Post)

-- Pratt & Whitney Military Engines, East Hartford, Conn., was awarded a $19.3 million modification to a previously awarded contract. This modification provides for procurement of extra-long-lead items in support of the low-rate initial production Lot XII F-35 Lightning II joint strike fighter aircraft production.

The extra-long-lead items include group hardware supporting the Lot XII delivery of conventional take-off and landing propulsion systems for the Air Force, Navy, non-Department of Defense (non-DoD) participants, and foreign military sales (FMS) customers, as well as group hardware supporting the Lot XII delivery of short take-off and vertical landing propulsion systems for the Marine Corps.

Work will be done in East Hartford; Indianapolis, Ind.; and Bristol, United Kingdom, and is expected to be completed in November 2019. This contract combines purchases for the Marine Corps (88.04 percent); non-DoD participants (9.86 percent); Air Force (1.49 percent); FMS (0.41 percent) under the Foreign Military Sales Program; and Navy .20 percent). 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)

Florida's Pensacola International Airport (PNS) reaches a new all-time high serving 1,668,897 passengers during fiscal year 2017. That's the highest count in a decade. A year before the Great Recession, the airport’s last passenger record was in FY07 when the airport served a total of 1,660,545 passengers.

In addition to the record, PNS announced a second daily non-stop flight to Ronald Reagan Washington National Airport (DCA) aboard American Airlines will be added to the flight schedule in the spring. Beginning April 3, 2018, passengers will have the option of booking a morning nonstop flight to DCA, in addition to the current afternoon non-stop flight. (Post)

-- In May, travel between Okaloosa County and the nation's capital will be easier for hundreds of military contractors and active duty personnel. The first non-stop American Airlines flights between Destin-Fort Walton Beach Airport (VPS) and Washington D.C.'s Ronald Reagan National Airport will take off 11:05 a.m. May 4, according to a news release from the county.

An earlier flight is scheduled to depart Washington D.C. at 8:45 a.m. the same day, with arrival in Okaloosa County expected at 10:07 a.m., the release said. The two flights will run daily. The airport is located within Eglin Air Force Base. (Post)

The 53rd Weapons Evaluation Group conducted operations from Nov. 1-3 and will do so again Nov. 6-8 in the Gulf of Mexico and Choctawhatchee Bay as part of a Weapon System Evaluation Program. Between 8 a.m. and noon jets will be releasing munitions about 20 miles south of Destin in the Gulf of Mexico.

Between 1-5 p.m., about 30 boats traveling in formation will transverse between the Mid-Bay Bridge and the U.S. Highway 331 Bridge, including 10-to-20 miles south of Destin in the Gulf of Mexico, according to base officials.

The boat formation will be used as visual targets by military aircraft flying over the area. Some boats will have fake deck guns and rocket launcher tubes, but no live weapons or ammunition will be involved. The boats also will be using marine flares as visual markers. (Post)

-- Residents of Mississippi's Biloxi and Keesler Air Force Base may hear an increase in noise this weekend due to a training exercise. The Air Force Reserve's 403rd Wing will hold the exercise on Saturday from 7 a.m. to 3 p.m. during the Unit Training Assembly.

Sirens, alarms and loudspeaker announcements will be used to simulate realistic environments for personnel. Trainees will practice self-aid and buddy care, chemical warfare detection, and the ability to survive and operate in a deployed environment. (Post)

Numerous companies, including UTS Systems LLC, Fort Walton Beach, Fla. (W911QY-18-D-0161), will share in an $8,276,161,000 hybrid (cost, cost-plus-fixed-fee, cost-plus-incentive-fee, firm-fixed-price, fixed-price-incentive, and fixed-price-redetermination) contract for Joint Enterprise Research, Development, Acquisition and Production and Procurement program to support research and development of chemical, biological, radiological, nuclear, and high-yield explosives defense systems, capabilities, equipment, supplies and material. Work locations and funding will be determined with each order, with an estimated completion date of Oct. 3, 2027. U.S. Army Contracting Command, Natick, Mass., is the contracting activity.