Saturday, January 27, 2018

Week in review (1/21 to 1/27)

The week ended on an upbeat note for plane-maker Bombardier.

A U.S. trade commission handed a victory to the Canadian company, ruling that Bombardier can sell its newest jets to U.S. airlines without heavy duties. The vote by the U.S. International Trade Commission was 4-0 that Bombardier’s prices did not harm Boeing. That decision discards a U.S. Commerce Department recommendation to slap a near 300 percent duty on sales of the company's CSeries jets.

Chicago-based Boeing claimed it was forced to discount its 737 narrow-bodies to compete with Bombardier, which it said used government subsidies to dump the CSeries during the 2016 sale of 75 jets to Delta Air Lines. Bombardier called the trade case self-serving after Boeing revealed last month that it was discussing a "potential combination" with Brazil’s Embraer, which also builds smaller passenger jets.

Plans continue to move forward on a venture with Europe's Airbus, in which Airbus would take a majority stake in the CSeries and assemble them in Mobile, Ala. Those planes would be sold to U.S. carriers. (Post)

Before the ITC decision, Rep. Bradley Byrne, R-Ala., and Sen. Jerry Moran, R-Kan., wrote to the head of the trade commission to express support for Bombardier. Byrne wrote that a decision favoring Boeing would take work away from U.S. suppliers and quash thousands of U.S. jobs. Byrne represents the district that includes Mobile. (Post)

Florida Gov. Rick Scott stopped by Gulf Coast State College in Panama City, Fla., during the week to congratulate everyone who helped get Tyndall Air Force Base selected as the preferred site for the MQ-9 Reaper wing.

Scott was one of many people who attended a ceremony at the school’s Advanced Technology Center. An environmental analysis, which could take nine months to two years, still has to be completed before it’s a done deal.

Airmen could arrive in 2020, with aircraft following in 2022. The wing is expected to increase Tyndall's workforce by more than 30 percent. (Post)

-- Some 400 prime contractors, subcontractors, military officials, contracting officers, and defense agencies are expected to attend the two-day 2018 Air Force Contracting Summit beginning Jan. 29 at the Sandestin Beach Golf Resort at Miramar Beach, Fla.

During the summit, speakers and attendees will have the opportunity to discuss the mission and contracting priorities of the U.S. Air Force, address contracting procedures for small businesses, identify federal contracting resources and connect prime contractors with new subcontractors. (Post)

-- Naval Air Station Whiting Field, Fla., along with naval installations across the country will participate in Solid Curtain-Citadel Shield 2018 Jan. 29 – Feb. 9. The exercise is designed to enhance the readiness of Navy security forces and ensure seamless interoperability among the commands, other services and agency partners.

Measures have been taken to minimize disruptions within local communities and to normal base operations, but there may be times when the exercise causes increased traffic around bases or delays in base access. Area residents may also see or hear security activities associated with the exercise. (Post)

San Antonio-class amphibious transport dock USS Anchorage (LPD 23) successfully completed test recovery operations of NASA's Orion test article, Jan. 23. The Underway Recovery Test-6 (URT-6) is part of a U.S. government interagency effort to safely retrieve the Orion crew module, which is capable of carrying humans into deep space.

URT-6 consisted of releasing the test capsule from the well deck, then maneuvering the ship alongside the capsule at slow speed and retrieving it. The tests allowed NASA and the Navy to continue to demonstrate and evaluate the recovery processes, procedures, hardware and personnel in real, open-ocean environment before conducting actual recovery operations.

The space-bound Orion is built at Michoud Assembly Facility in New Orleans and the RS-25 engines that will power the first stage of the Space Launch System are tested at Stennis Space Center, Miss. (Post)

Enterprise State Community College will receive $2.5 million to expand the Alabama Aviation College in Ozark, Ala. The funds are part of the Alabama Capital Improvement Trust Fund which awards funds for projects that promote economic development and industrial recruitment in the state.

The Alabama Aviation College offers training and course work in one of Alabama’s fastest growing career fields. There are programs in aircraft maintenance and avionics technology. The funds will be used to renovate campus infrastructure to expand the College’s Advanced Composite Training Program and prepare the campus for future program expansions. (Post)

W.W. Gay Fire Protection Inc., Jacksonville, Fla., was awarded a $7.8 million task order under a previously awarded design-build multiple award construction contract for replacement of fire suppression system, aqueous film forming foam, hangars 1853 and 1854, at Naval Air Station Pensacola, Fla. Work will be performed in Pensacola and is expected to be completed by January 2019. The Naval Facilities Engineering Command, Southeast, Jacksonville, is the contracting activity.

Saturday, January 20, 2018

Week in review (1/14 to 1/20)

It was back in April 2015 that I first wrote an article about the F-35 reprogramming lab at Eglin Air Force Base, Fla. The headline said a lot: "Putting the fight in the F-35."

The two-page article was the cover story for that issue of the Gulf Coast Aerospace Corridor newsletter. It focused on the $300 million reprogramming lab that provides the F-35 with mission data to give it combat smarts. The story also noted that two more multimillion-dollar labs would be built at the base to customize data for F-35 partner nations. (newsletter, pp 1-2)

During the week, Lockheed Martin Aeronautics Co. of Fort Worth, Texas, was awarded $7.5 million for modification of a previously awarded contract to transition the F-35 Australia, Canada, United Kingdom Reprogramming Laboratory (ACURL) system from Lockheed Martin Aeronautics in Fort Worth to Eglin Air Force Base, Fla.

Support includes required activities including packing, shipping, installation, integration, and testing. This modification also provides for initial spares for the ACURL. Seventy percent of the work for this contract will be done at Eglin and 30 percent at Fort Worth. It’s expected to be completed in March 2019. (Post)

Late last year, we told you that the folks who operate the Eglin reprogramming lab, the 53rd Wing’s 513th Electronic Warfare Squadron, was awarded on Oct. 25 the Outstanding Scientist/Engineer Team of 2017 for their work on the F-35A Initial Operational Capability delivery at Eglin Air Force Base. The 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. (2017 post)

At Stennis Space Center, Miss. NASA engineers picked up this year where they left off in 2017, conducting a certification test of another RS-25 engine flight controller on the A-1 Test Stand.

The 365-second, full-duration test came a month after the space agency capped a year of RS-25 testing with a flight controller test in mid-December. A 3D printed part tested in December, a pogo accumulator assembly, was tested again. It's part of an ongoing series of tests with parts made using advanced manufacturing techniques that will make building future engines more affordable.

For this "green run" test, the flight controller was installed on RS-25 developmental engine E0528 and fired just as during an actual launch. Once certified, the flight controller will be removed and installed on a flight engine for use by NASA’s new deep-space rocket, the Space Launch System. (Post)

The Air Force's first fully upgraded C-130H arrived at Eglin Air Force Base, Fla., last week to begin a full range of testing. The Wyoming Air National Guard's 153rd Airlift Wing-owned aircraft will be here for several months undergoing multiple test flights.

The goal of these evaluations is to collect data and confirm the increased fuel efficiency, reliability and overall performance improvements gained from the new propellers and upgraded engines.

The flight testing will be conducted by 153rd AW and C-130 Combined Test Force aircrews. ANG Airmen will maintain the aircraft during its time here. The Wyoming Air National Guard was chosen to receive the C-130H because of its involvement in the initial testing with the new systems in 2008, when the Air Force explored the idea of upgrading the H-model. (Post)

The U.S. International Trade Commission released a detailed report that reviews arguments on both sides of the Boeing-Bombardier trade dispute and provides a basis on which commissioners will decide if Bombardier's CSeries sale to Delta Air Lines harmed Boeing.

The 118-page document written by the ITC's staff provides no recommendations, but rather compiles information the ITC gathered during its months-long trade investigation.

Bombardier says it has made "substantial further progress" toward building a new aircraft assembly line in Mobile, Ala., according to filing with the ITC. Bombardier is locked in a trade dispute with Boeing; Airbus and Bombardier have formed a joint venture and say they want to assemble jets in Mobile; and Boeing, which has scoffed at the Airbus-Bombardier plan, has explored a relationship with Brazil's Embraer that has some similar aspects. (Post)

Northwest Florida Beaches International Airport in West Bay northwest of Panama City has added another major airline service to cities that are hubs for American Airlines, allowing connections to flights all over the world. Starting June 7, American Airlines’ 65-seat Eagle service will be offering twice-a-day, nonstop daily service to and from Charlotte, N.C., and Dallas/Fort Worth international airports. (Post)

Further to the west, American Airlines plans to launch daily nonstop service between Pensacola International Airport in Florida and Philadelphia International Airport, also starting June 7. Philadelphia International becomes Pensacola International Airport’s eighteenth nonstop destination. (Post)

The property appraiser’s office in Florida’s Santa Rosa County is among the first in Florida using unmanned aerial system. The office has been testing the use of drones to supplement and update property data since September 2016.

Property Appraiser Greg Brown is responsible for identifying, locating and valuing all property within the county for tax purposes. Previously, every two years Brown's office has had to pay $250,000 per flight for an aerial photography company to fly over the county's 1,100 square miles to get photos. Using the drones pushes that need back to every three or four years. (Post)

L3 Technologies Inc., Communications Systems-West, Salt Lake City, Utah, was awarded a $9 million contract to explore technologies enabling cooperative engagement in degraded communication environments for the next generation of munitions. Work will be performed in Salt Lake City, Utah, and is expected to be complete by January 2025. Air Force Research Laboratory, Eglin Air Force Base, Fla., is the contracting activity. … Bell-Boeing JPO, Amarillo, Texas, was awarded a $35 million delivery order against a previously issued basic ordering agreement in support of the V-22. Four percent of the work will be done in Fort Walton Beach, Fla. Other work locations are in Virginia, Oklahoma, Texas, Pennsylvania, New Mexico, Missouri, the United Kingdom, New Jersey and Orlando, Fla. and is expected to be completed in April 2022. The Naval Air Warfare Center Training Systems Division, Orlando, is the contracting activity.

Saturday, January 13, 2018

Week in review (1/7 to 1/13)

Will we have a spaceport in Hancock County, Miss.?

The Hancock County Port and Harbor Commission has commissioned RS&H Inc. to study the feasibility of obtaining a Launch Site Operator License that could open the door to commercial space flight at Stennis International Airport in Kiln, Miss.

The airport is just outside NASA's John C. Stennis Space Center, the nation's largest rocket engine test facility and home to some 40 federal, state and commercial companies, including Lockheed Martin, Aerojet Rocketdyne and Rolls-Royce. Rolls-Royce uses the airport to transport the jetliner engines it tests at Stennis Space Center.

The Federal Aviation Administration has developed regulations that enable airports to host operations of reusable launch vehicles that take off and land like aircraft. Several kinds of such vehicles are currently under development.

Bill Cork, CEO of the Hancock County Port and Harbor Commission, said the commercial space industry is “poised for dynamic growth, and Hancock County is uniquely positioned to benefit from this growth.” (Post)

Speaking of space, a secret spacecraft launched by a SpaceX rocket last weekend failed to enter a stable orbit and was lost. The spacecraft, called Zuma, launched Sunday from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida aboard a Falcon 9 rocket, apparently did not separate as it was supposed to from the upper stage of the rocket.

The payload is classified and built by Northrop Grumman, the aerospace and defense company. It was not clear if the failure was due to problems with the SpaceX rocket or with the Zuma spacecraft. SpaceX, which is developing its next-generation Raptor engine at Stennis Space Center, Miss., said the rocket performed as designed. (Post)

Although the satellite was lost, the first stage of the Falcon 9 rocket made a success vertical touchdown at Landing Zone 1, a SpaceX facility at Cape Canaveral. It landed less than 8 minutes after taking off. SpaceX now has 21 successful first stage returns, part of its plan to develop reusable rockets. (Post)

-- NASA is looking to small businesses and research institutions for innovative technologies that could have significant potential for successful transition into NASA mission programs and other commercial markets.

This year, through NASA's Small Business and Innovation Research (SBIR) and Small Business Technology Transfer (STTR) Phase I solicitation, proposals for research, development and technology demonstrations can be submitted until March 9, 2018, 4 p.m. CST. (Post)

Economic development
The beat goes on with attempts to land additional aerospace activities.

Florida's The Bay County Economic Development Alliance is working on 25 projects for 2018. Six of those projects may be announced within the first quarter of the new year, according to EDA President Becca Hardin.

Among the six is Project G-Force, which involves an aviation manufacturing company in the process of deciding to locate in Bay County or one other site. Hardin expects a decision on the $20 million project by the end of January. Another, called Project SoHo, is at the airport campus and would represent a $25 million investment. (Post)

Personnel from the 41st Aerial Port Squadron of Savannah, Ga., and other units from the Air Force, Army and Navy teamed up for a joint training exercise that ended last weekend at Keesler Air Force Base in Biloxi, Miss., and the Combat Readiness Training Center (CRTC) in Gulfport, Miss.

The primary goal of GRIP III Breaking Barriers was to give reservists and military members an opportunity to train with aircraft, personnel, and equipment that they don't regularly encounter in everyday training. The 1108th Theater Aviation Sustainment Maintenance Group at the CRTC provided UH-60 helicopters to ferry personnel between Keesler and the CRTC, simulating transportation between forward operating bases. The Navy Special Boat Team 22 from Stennis Space Center, Miss., provided a riverine command boat, rigid inflatable boats and trailers to allow personnel to practice loading and off-loading. (Post)

Saturday, January 6, 2018

Week in review (12/31 to 1/6)

Last week I touched on some of the news from 2017 that was important to the Gulf Coast aerospace corridor, so it makes sense to look ahead this time by filling you in on upcoming issues of our bimonthly aerospace newsletter. It's something from the future where I have some control.

We plan to have six issues during 2018, assuming we get enough underwriters to back our research. We provide the newsletter free to readers, but that’s only possible through the support of underwriters who want our unique aerospace/aviation coverage to continue.

Our next issue in February will have a four-page cover story focusing on Alabama's aerospace footprint. If you are a regular reader, you know we had cover stories about Louisiana's and Mississippi's aerospace activities in the October and December issues, respectively. Our April issue will focus on Florida.

Because 2018 is an off-year for our biennial Gulf Coast Aerospace Corridor book, we will turn our June newsletter into something of a highly condensed update of the book published in 2017. We’ll have an eight-page overview on the major aerospace activities in our region, which should come in handy for folks from our region who attend the July 16-22 Farnborough Air Show.

We're also in the early stages of planning an issue in October that will focus on educational opportunities in the aerospace and aviation fields. Of course, in addition to those planned stories there will be articles prompted by breaking aerospace news events in the region.

Contact me if you're interested in being among the subscribers who have the newsletter PDF delivered via email. You can see all our past issues at our archive.

Now for your rather short week in review:

The Navy Blue Angels are now in El Centro, Calif., for winter training. They left Naval Air Station Pensacola, Fla., Wednesday. The team will perform in El Centro March 10, then return to Pensacola after that to begin the regular show season. Naval Air Station El Centro is between San Diego and Yuma, Ariz. (Post)

-- An associate of mine, who also happens to maintain our shipbuilding/maritime news feed, pointed out a story from the Northwest Florida Daily News. It said some 400 gallons of Jet-A fuel spilled early Friday at Eglin Building 92 after a switch box froze. That activated fuel pumps, overfilling an underground storage tank. Absorbents were put in place to soak up the spill.

The Boeing Co. Defense, Space and Security, St. Louis, Mo., was awarded a $193.6 million modification to a previously awarded contract for Small Diameter Bomb (SDB) Increment 1 Lots 12-14 production. This modification provides for the purchase of an additional quantity of 6,000 SDB 1 all-up-rounds being produced under the basic contract. Work will be performed in St. Louis and is expected to be completed by Dec. 30, 2020. Air Force Life Cycle Management Center, Eglin Air Force Base, Fla., is the contracting activity.