But before we get to that, I want to remind you we'll be publishing our eight-page June Gulf Coast Aerospace Corridor Newsletter next week. This one will provide updated information on the chapters that appeared in the aerospace corridor book published in June 2017. Enough has happened that it made sense to provide an update since our next reference book won't be published until June 2019 – a year from now.
OK, that settled, now for your week in review:
The Airbus-Bombardier partnership, which will result in a final assembly line for CSeries jetliners in Mobile, will close July 1. The CSeries assembly line will be built north of the current Airbus A320 series assembly line at the Mobile Aeroplex.
All regulatory approvals required for the closing have been obtained, officials announced Friday. The deal gives Airbus a majority stake in the CSeries Aircraft Limited Partnership (CSALP).
The head office, primary assembly line and related functions will be based in Mirabel, Quebec. But the additional assembly line in Mobile will help the expected demand for the single-aisle jetliner. The deal was initially announced in October 2017. Bombardier delivered 17 aircraft in 2017, and is gearing up to double its deliveries in 2018. (Post)
Airbus itself is becoming an old hand at assembling and delivering A320 series jetliners at its Mobile plant. As of the end of last month 71 aircraft have been delivered to customers. It's building four planes a month. And spokeswoman Kristi Tucker said the company is excited about the Bombardier project.
"All of us at Airbus are excited to welcome the employees of the CSALP into the extended Airbus team, and to welcome the CSeries aircraft to Airbus' product offerings ... It will also be exciting to see us grow further in Mobile."
Meanwhile, to the east of Mobile, Pensacola, Fla., had its own celebration Friday.
The VT Mobile Aerospace Engineering maintenance, repair and overhaul facility at Pensacola International Airport held a grand opening with a ribbon-cutting at the hangar on the north side of the airport.
The $46 million project in Pensacola is the second MRO operation for VT MAE in the region. It has had an MRO in Mobile, Ala., since 1991, where it employs more than 1,000 people. The Pensacola facility will employ about 400.
Florida Gov. Rick Scott was on hand to mark the grand opening in Pensacola. Workers already have their first project, a UPS aircraft that's in the brand new hangar for routine maintenance. (Post)
-- In another Pensacola airport item, PSA Airlines, a subsidiary of American Airlines, plans to open a new maintenance facility at Pensacola International Airport. It will create up to 35 jobs and support PSA's efforts to grow its fleet by about 20 aircraft.
PSA will be looking for mechanics, leads, inspectors and stores personnel. PSA said Pensacola International Airport was an ideal location for the new facility because the area provides a sustainable workforce, a strong local military presence and an abundance of technical schools.
PSA currently has maintenance facilities in Dayton, Canton and Cincinnati, Ohio; Norfolk, Va.; Charlotte, N.C.; Greenville, S.C.; and Savannah, Ga. (Post)
-- Allegiant Air announced during the week that it would be adding six new nonstop flights out of the Destin-Fort Walton Beach Airport. The flights will be to VPS from Bentonville, Ark.; Charlotte/Concord, N.C.; Evansville, Ind.; Lexington, Ky.; Nashville, Tenn.; and Raleigh/Durham, N.C. Allegiant also serves Gulfport-Biloxi International Airport and Louis Armstrong International Airport in New Orleans. (Post)
-- Three airports in the Gulf Coast region are among those awarded grants by the Federal Aviation Administration. The FAA will award $677 million in airport infrastructure grants, the first allotment of the total $3.18 billion in Airport Improvement Program funding for airports across the United States. The 241 grants will fund 346 infrastructure projects that include runways, taxiways, aprons, and terminals.
In this region, H.L. (Sonny) Callahan Airport in Fairhope, Ala., will receive a $3 million for construction of a taxiway. Baton Rouge Metropolitan will receive $4 million to improve the runway safety area. Picayune Municipal will receive $630 million to construct a taxiway and install taxiway lighting. (Post)
At Stennis Space Center, Miss., Aerojet Rocketdyne has completed assembly of its first AR-22 rocket engine built for Boeing as part of the U.S. Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency Experimental Spaceplane, called Phantom Express.
The AR-22, derived from the Space Shuttle Main Engine that was designed from the outset for reusability, is the main propulsion for Phantom Express. The AR-22 is capable of generating about 375,000 pounds of thrust and was designed to fly 55 missions with service every 10 missions.
The reusable Phantom Express will take off vertically and land horizontally. The vehicle will be equipped with an expendable second stage capable of placing up to 3,000 pounds of payload into low Earth orbit.
Aerojet Rocketdyne assembled the AR-22 at its facility at NASA’s Stennis Space Center, where it also will undergo a series of daily hot-fire tests starting this summer to demonstrate its ability to support the high flight rates envisioned for Phantom Express.
The tests will be used to refine Phantom Express flight and turnaround procedures. (Post)
In a deal expected to be finalized this summer pending regulatory approvals, L3 Crestview Aerospace will be sold to New York investment firm American Industrial Partners as part of a $540 million cash deal.
The investment firm will acquire two components of L3 Technologies – Vertex Aerospace, which includes L3 Crestview Aerospace, and TCS. Vertex Aerospace provides aviation logistics and aircraft maintenance, repair and overhaul services, and TCS provides engineering services and logistics support.
American Industrial Partners has a portfolio that includes Ascent Aerospace, Shape Technologies Group, Optimas, and REV.
L3 Technologies announced late last year that the Crestview plant, an aircraft component manufacturer that employs 500 people at Okaloosa Industrial Air Park, was up for sale. In addition to the Crestview plant, L3 Crestview Aerospace includes a plant in Chihuahua, Mexico, that produces sheet metal and parts for commercial aircraft. (Post)
Lockheed Martin Aeronautics Co., Fort Worth, Texas, was awarded a $735.7 million modification to a previously awarded advance acquisition contract. This modification provides additional advance procurement funding for the procurement of long-lead time materials, parts, components, and effort in support of the F-35 Lightning II Low Rate Initial Production Lot 13 aircraft for the U.S. Air Force, U.S. Navy, and U.S. Marine Corps. The modification also provides economic order quantity funding for procurement of material and equipment that has completed formal hardware qualification testing for the F-35 program for use in procurement contracts to be awarded for the F-35 program low rate initial production Lots 13 and 14 for the U.S. Air Force, U.S. Navy, and U.S. Marine Corps. 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. … Lockheed Martin Aeronautics Co., Fort Worth, Texas, was awarded a $14.4 million contract for emerging capabilities and analysis systems engineering to include programmatic, and logistics tasks that will analyze the F-35 air system's ability to meet future operational requirements, investigate cost and weight reduction program options, and conduct modeling and simulation activities. The Naval Air Systems Command, Patuxent River, Md., is the contracting activity. … Lockheed Martin Corp., Orlando, Fla., was awarded a $9.3 million delivery order for Joint Air-to-Surface Standoff Missile (JASSM) C++ Conversion Phase II. Air Force Life Cycle Management Center, Eglin Air Force Base, Fla., is the contracting activity. … Bell Boeing JPO, Amarillo, Texas, was awarded $47.4 million for a delivery order against a previously issued basic ordering agreement. This delivery order procures non-recurring engineering, production, supportability, and management necessary to facilitate the incorporation of optimized wiring and structural improvements on the nacelle into the V-22 production line and via forced retrofit at the depot level of maintenance for previously delivered V-22 aircraft. Four percent of the work will be done in Fort Walton Beach, Fla. The Naval Air Systems Command, Patuxent River, is the contracting activity.