Saturday, February 24, 2018

Week in review (2/18 to 2/24)

Passenger area of CSeries.
GCAC photo

Airbus and Bombardier early in the week invited the media to take a look at a CSeries jetliner like the ones that are likely to be built at the Mobile Aeroplex under an agreement between the two plane makers.

The transaction, where Airbus gets a stake in the Bombardier CSeries jetliners, is not yet finalized, but is expected by the second half of this year. So what will all this mean for Mobile? As was reported back in November, the Bombardier investment will be close to $300 million and will create 400 to 500 jobs.

But at the event itself officials said the number of jobs at the Aeroplex will increase to as many as 600. That’s because there’s a good chance Airbus will hike its A320 series jetliner output to six a month from the current four.

The CSeries would be built in a separate hangar to the north and parallel to the hangar where Airbus is building A320 series jetliners. The plans is to eventually build four CSeries jetliners per month on the separate final assembly line.

Like the Airbus operation, major sections will be shipped to Mobile from other locations. The engines are built by Pratt & Whitney, and the podding work may be done at the UTC facility across the bay in Foley, where all the A320 podding work is done.

While a lot of details are still being worked out, Bombardier will use the Airbus delivery center, which will be expanded to accommodate the additional deliveries.

The twin-engine, single-aisle CSeries passenger jet is smaller than the A320. It has three seats on one side of the aisle and two on the other. (Post)

Building the CSeries in Mobile as well as Quebec will allow Bombardier to meet demand, and will mean jobs for years to come. There will be a demand for 6,000 of the CSeries jetliners over the next 20 years, according to Alain Bellemare, president and CEO of Bombardier, who was in Mobile for the event. He also pointed out that more than 50 percent of the plane's content is U.S.-produced.

Officials also said they expect more suppliers might now commit to setting up an operation in Mobile or the surrounding region with the arrival of Bombardier.

Meanwhile, over at Stennis Space Center, Miss., later in the week, Aerojet Rocketdyne and NASA powered up the RS-25 main engine for the agency's Space Launch System (SLS) to its highest thrust levels yet. It was a 260-second test on the A-1 Test Stand. The RS-25 engine throttled up to 113 percent of its original design thrust level.

The first four flights of SLS will use engines that max out at 109 percent of rated thrust. The engines operated at 104.5 percent rated thrust when they helped power the Space Shuttle into space. New RS-25 engines will baseline their thrust at 111 percent.

The latest RS-25 hot fire test also was the fourth involving an additively manufactured Pogo Accumulator Assembly, the largest 3-D printed RS-25 component tested to date. Newly manufactured RS-25 engines, to be used starting with the fifth SLS mission, will incorporate the additively manufactured Pogo Accumulator Assembly and other 3-D printed parts currently in development.

There are 16 flight engines that will power the first four SLS flights in inventory at Aerojet Rocketdyne's Stennis facility. (Post)

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