Saturday, February 10, 2018

Week in review (2/4 to 2/10)

The February issue of the bimonthly Gulf Coast Aerospace Corridor Newsletter will be published Wednesday. The cover story is the third installment of the series about the aerospace activities of the four states that are members of the Aerospace Alliance.

The upcoming issue puts a spotlight on Alabama, which has a large, diverse and growing aerospace sector. In fact, aerospace is the second fastest-growing sector in the state in terms of project activity. As you would expect, we'll tell you about Huntsville-Decatur, long a powerhouse in space, and Mobile, which seems destined to grow its aircraft manufacturing operations.

But you'll also learn more about the places in between, from Fort Rucker’s Army aviation center in Southeast Alabama to Tuskegee, where they'll build T-100 jet trainers if the Air Force picks Leonardo for the contract.

There's also an article about artificial intelligence and the fear that intelligent robots might be our greatest danger. That was the subject of a lecture in Pensacola at the Florida Institute for Human and Machine Cognition, which pointed out the parallels between the current fear over AI and past concerns about humans flying.

We'll also tell you about a second lecture a little more than a week later at IHMC about future technology and some of the products that we can expect – the prototypes already exist. I particularly liked the windows that double as lights, and bendable computing devices.

We also have a rundown of some of the key aviation events that occurred in the Gulf Coast region since the last newsletter in December. If you're a subscriber, the eight-page PDF will be delivered to your inbox. Not a subscriber? You will be able to grab the PDF at our website.

Now for your week in review:

OK, even if you're not a space buff, you have to admit that the launch of the SpaceX Falcon Heavy from Cape Canaveral, Fla., was pretty awesome. And the images that were beamed back showing a Tesla Roadster in space – with Earth in the background and a dummy in the driver's seat – was like nothing you've ever seen before – at least not something that was real.

I'll admit, I was skeptical when the Obama administration started shifting money to commercial companies so they could handle routine flights to the International Space Station while NASA focused on extending our reach to deep space. But I've slowly but surely become a believer. The vision has gone well beyond routine as private companies push into space tourism and establishing colonies on distant planets.

SpaceX's Falcon Heavy is the most powerful commercial rocket in the world. What is truly remarkable is that once again, SpaceX got its boosters back. Two of the three boosters made vertical landings back at Kennedy Space Center, while the third one scheduled to land on a drone ship off the coast of Florida hit the ocean about 100 yards from the ship. While the Tesla was visually stunning, it's the return of the boosters that's the real achievement here. SpaceX has done it in the past, but this time two of them came down nearly simultaneously. That capability promises to make space travel quite a bit less expensive.

The 23-story rocket was built with three of the company's Falcon 9 rockets, a total of 27 Merlin engines, created a combined 5 million pounds of thrust. Falcon Heavy is more powerful and can lift more weight than the biggest rockets offered by either United Launch Alliance or Arianespace.

A recent report by Bank of America Merrill Lynch forecast the size of the space industry over the next three decades will reach at least $2.7 trillion. All of this is good for our region. SpaceX is using Stennis Space Center, Miss., to develop its next generation Raptor engines, and other companies are also testing their rocket engines at SSC. (Post)

Airbus and its suppliers continue to grab our attention.

UTC Aerospace Systems recently delivered the first of two fully integrated propulsion systems for the Airbus 320neo to the Airbus final assembly line in Mobile, Ala. The newly expanded UTC facility in Foley, Ala., integrated the full nacelle system, designed and built by UTC Aerospace Systems, with the Pratt & Whitney PW1100G-JM Geared Turbofan engine (GTF).

In 2011, Airbus selected UTC Aerospace Systems to design, manufacture and support the full nacelle system for the A320neo GTF engines for the life of the program. In support of the Airbus A320neo program, UTC Aerospace System elected to expand the Foley campus to meet customer demand. The 80,000 square foot expansion began operations in late 2017. (Post)

In another Airbus-related story, officials from Dublin-based MAAS Aviation and the Atlanta-based consul general of Ireland were in Mobile late in the week. As you know, MAAS Aviation in Mobile paints all the jetliners produced by Airbus.

The consul, Shane Stephens, was with a delegation of European representatives to visit the Gulf Coast to celebrate European investments in this part of the world. MAAS, in addition to the shop that paints the Airbus planes, later built another paint facility for after-market customers. Just a year after breaking ground, it’s repainted some 40 planes. MAAS officials say they’re excited about the growth potential of the Mobile area. (Post)

The Air Force has grounded some training flights at Naval Air Station Pensacola, Fla., because of hypoxia-related issues experienced by pilots at other bases flying T-6 Texan II A aircraft.

The Pensacola News Journal reports that Randy Martin, a spokesman for the San Antonio-based 12th Flying Squadron, said the Air Force has 22 of the planes at NAS Pensacola. The planes are used to train combat systems officers as part of its 479th Fighter Group at the Navy base.

Earlier this month the Air Force grounded its entire fleet of T-6 Texan II A planes after pilots experienced hypoxia due to lack of oxygen in flight. Naval Air Station Whiting Field, Fla., flies a different version of the T-6 Texan II. (Post)

-- The Florida Department if Environmental Protection announced Friday that 2,607 gallons of Jet-A fuel spilled at Eglin Air Force Base, Fla. The spill occurred in Building 92 on Jan. 5 after a switch box froze, activating fuel pumps and overfilling an underground storage tank. Absorbents were put in place to soak up the fuel and the Emergency Response Contractor cleaned the area. (Post)

-- Speaking of the environment, Naval Air Station Whiting Field, Fla., was the winner in the medium-sized shore command category of the 2017 Navy Community Service Environmental Stewardship Flagship awards.

The awards program highlights commands and ships that exhibit strong commitment to environmental stewardship via volunteer service projects. Naval Air Technical Training Center Pensacola, Fla., was an honorable mention in the large shore command category. (Post)

The Air Force Nuclear Weapons Center at Kirkland Air Force Base, N.M., announced its annual award winners Jan. 25. Winners will compete at the next level for Air Force Materiel Command’s annual awards.

AFNWC 2017 annual award winners included Field Grade Officer of the Year, Maj. Kenton Feldman and Category IV Civilian of the Year, Wesley Treadway, both of the Air Delivered Capabilities Directorate at Eglin Air Force Base, Fla.

The center is responsible for synchronizing all aspects of nuclear materiel management on behalf of the AF’s materiel command in direct support of the AF Global Strike Command. Headquartered at Kirtland, the center has some 1,100 personnel assigned to 17 locations worldwide, including Eglin. (Post)

-- Col. Michael E. Martin of the 24th Special Operations Wing, Air Force Special Operations Command, Hurlburt Field, Fla., who was selected earlier this week for the grade of brigadier general, is being assigned as director, Integrated Resilience Office, Deputy Chief of Staff for Manpower, Personnel and Services, Headquarters U.S. Air Force, Pentagon, Washington, D.C. The announcement was made by the office of the Air Force chief of staff. (Post)

-- Air Force Brig. Gen. Vincent K. Becklund has been nominated for appointment to the rank of major general. Becklund is currently serving as the special assistant to the commander, Air Force Special Operations Command, Hurlburt Field, Fla. (Post)

Lockheed Martin Aeronautics Co., Fort Worth, Texas, was awarded a $119.7 million modification to a previously issued delivery order placed against a basic ordering agreement. This modification provides for the procurement of initial air vehicle deployment spares packages in support of Air Force F-35 air vehicle delivery schedules. work is expected to be completed in July 2022. 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. … The Boeing Co., St. Louis, Mo., was awarded a $21 million contract for the procurement of GBU-57 massive ordnance penetrators. Air Force Life Cycle Management Center, Eglin Air Force Base, Fla., is the contracting activity.

No comments:

Post a Comment