Saturday, July 21, 2018

Week in review (7/15 to 7/21)

Some weeks we have a lot of posts about contracts awarded by the military to various companies. But during this past week we were inundated by stories about money that will be spent on projects are airports in the region.

Triumph Gulf Coast during the week gave preliminary approval to $64.5 million in grants to expand Northwest Florida’s aerospace and aviation infrastructure. The Triumph board voted unanimously to support $56 million in major expansions of the Pensacola International Airport's maintenance, repair and overhaul facilities and $8.5 million for substantial expansion of Whiting Aviation Park in Santa Rosa County.

The funds for Pensacola is contingent upon obtaining more than $75 million now being sought from city, county, state and federal sources and $59 million in commitments to the project by private companies.

The next step for the Pensacola and Whiting projects is agreement on a term sheet that will stipulate the obligations of all funding partners and include performance requirements and a "claw back" that would allow Triumph to reclaim its funds if jobs aren’t created and sustained, as committed by the private and public sponsors of the proposals. (Post)

Across the state line in Alabama, airports in that state are getting grants from the Federal Aviation Administration’s Airport Improvement Program.

The Downtown Mobile Airport will be getting a $7.1 million grant to pay for rehabilitation of runway 18/36, the reconstruction of taxiway H and installation of new taxiway lighting. A month earlier, H.L. (Sonny) Callahan Airport in Fairhope was awarded $3 million for runway construction. (Story)

Airbus has named Hoar Program Management (HPM) to be in charge of building the new assembly line for the A220 series plane in Mobile. The A220 is the renamed Bombardier CSeries. It will be built in Mobile, as well as Quebec, Canada, as part of a joint venture between Airbus and Bombardier. Ground breaking is expected later this year.

HPM, which began in Birmingham, Ala., has locations across Alabama and elsewhere. It built the A320 final assembly line in Mobile, and the recently opened VT MAE hangar in Pensacola, Fla. (Post)

Lockheed Martin Missiles and Fire Control, Grand Prairie, Texas, was awarded a
$164 million modification to previously awarded contract for the Terminal High Altitude Area Defense Field Support Contract (TFSC). The work will be performed in Huntsville, Ala.; Sunnyvale, Calif.; Grand Prairie, Texas; and Troy, Ala. The Missile Defense Agency, Huntsville, Ala., is the contracting activity. … Northrop Grumman Systems Corp., San Diego, Calif., was awarded $19.3 million modification to a previously awarded contract to procure integrated functional capability (IFC) 4.0 unique material for the MQ-4C Triton Unmanned Aircraft System. Work will be performed in California, Texas, North Dakota, Ohio, Wisconsin, Florida, New York, West Virginia and various locations in the continental U.S. The Naval Air Systems Command, Patuxent River, Md., is the contracting activity. Northrop Grumman does fuselage work on Triton in Moss Point, Miss. … PC Mechanical Inc., Santa Maria, Calif., was awarded a $19 million modification under a previously awarded contract to exercise option three for inspection, overhaul, repair, refurbishment, preventive maintenance, and logistics management information services to reconstitute the force of Civil Engineer Support Equipment (CESE) and Civil Engineer End Items (CEEI) under the CESE/CEEI Life Extension Program (CLEP) at Naval Base Ventura County. Work will be performed in Port Hueneme, Calif. (90 percent); and Gulfport, Miss. (10 percent), and this option period is from July 2018 to July 2019. The Naval Facilities Engineering and Expeditionary Warfare Center, Port Hueneme, Calif., is the contracting activity. … Harris Corp., Rochester, N.Y., was awarded an $8 million contract for AN/PRC-160 radios. The radios will be delivered to Fort Benning, Ga.; Pope Army Airfield, N.C.; JB Lewis-McChord, Wash.; Hurlburt Field, Fla.; Cannon Air Force Base, N.M.; Louisville, Ky.; and Portland, Ore.. The radios will be delivered by Sept. 20 2018. 1st Special Operations Contracting Squadron, Hurlburt Field, Fla., is the contracting activity.

Saturday, July 14, 2018

Week in review (7/8 to 7/14)

Representatives from the Gulf Coast who will be attending the July 16-22 Farnborough Air Show in England have a lot more to boast about then in years past. There's a lot more recognition of this region, and it may lead to attracting more companies.

During the week we learned that the Bombardier CSeries jetliner that will be built by a joint Airbus-Bombardier company has been given a new name. It will be the A220-100 and A220-300, the 300 model the one with the longer fuselage for more seating.

The new name, complete with a new paint scheme, was unveiled at a ceremony held at its Henri-Ziegler Delivery Center near Toulouse, France. The aircraft are for the 100 to 150 seat market and complement Airbus' existing A320 family.

Airbus is a majority holder in the partnership, which will lead to a new assembly line in Mobile, Ala., directly north of the current A320 series assembly line. (Post)

That rebranded model also got its first customer under the new name. JetBlue, which is also the first customer to take delivery of a U.S.-built A320, signed a Memorandum of Understanding for 60 firm orders for A220-300 model.

The airline also converted 25 of its current orders for Airbus A320neo into orders for the larger A321neo. The company’s A321neos and A220-300s will be powered by Pratt & Whitney GTF engines.

Airbus manufactures, markets and supports A220 aircraft under the recently finalized "C Series Aircraft Limited Partnership" (CSALP) agreement. (Post)

Speaking of Airbus, it is partnered with logistics giant DB Schenker on a logistics plan to use waterways to transport components to the Airbus A320 final assembly line in Mobile. The plan reduces the use of roads for transport.

Using a new roll-on/roll-off terminal, its barge, and a newly-dredged section of river, Airbus can use larger vessels to transfer components by water. Larger ocean going vessels are now being used for the international transport of four complete “ship sets” per month. The new logistics plan includes a refurbished pier at the production plant and construction of a new hangar. Airbus first used the new logistics setup for a shipment in May. (Post)

OK, job-seekers, listen up.

GKN Aerospace has hired 40 people to work at its new manufacturing facility at the airport near Panama City and is actively recruiting and training more new employees, officials said early in the week at a press conference at the Advanced Manufacturing Facility at Gulf Coast State Community College.

GKN has partnered with the college to help train employees.

The building at Venture Crossings is completed and equipment is being moved into the facility. By next year, officials say they will hire 172 people and be producing aircraft component parts.

GKN has invested $55 million in the facility and equipment. Kim Bodine, executive director for CareerSource Gulf Coast, said more than 900 people since last August have applied for the jobs on the CareerSource page taking applications. (Post)

On the subject of jobs, you may want to put in the back of your mind that in October, the Gulf Coast Aerospace Corridor Newsletter will have a special, larger issue that will focus on the education and training options for folks interested in getting involved in the region's growing aerospace/aviation field. It promises to be a keeper whether you're a parent, student, worker or company official.

Air show
The Navy's Blue Angels flight demonstration team is performing in two shows close to home over the next couple of weeks. The first one, at Pensacola Beach, Fla., is this weekend and the second one will be in Biloxi, Miss., next weekend. The team, which uses F/A-18 jets, is headquartered at Naval Air Station Pensacola. (Post)

Northrop Grumman Systems Corp., San Diego, Calif., was awarded a $41.2 million modification to an order against a previously issued basic ordering agreement. This modification increases the ceiling and extends the period of performance on the delivery order to provide test, maintenance and logistics support services to sustain MQ-4C Triton unmanned air system (UAS) air vehicles, mission control and operator training systems. Work will be performed in Maryland, California, Florida and Guam and is expected to be completed in March 2019. The Naval Air Systems Command, Patuxent River, is the contracting activity. Northrop Grumman does fuselage work on Global Hawk variants, including Triton, in Moss Point, Miss.

Saturday, July 7, 2018

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

It was bound to happen. Less than a week after Airbus and Bombardier closed on the deal where Airbus took a majority stake in the Bombardier CSeries jetliner, Boeing agreed to take a majority stake in Embraer's jetliner business.

The new deal, which still has to be approved by stakeholders and the government of Brazil, will add a smaller single-aisle aircraft to the Boeing portfolio. Chicago-based company will hold an 80 percent ownership stake in a joint venture valued at $4.75 billion. (Post)

In the earlier Airbus-Bombardier deal, Airbus now owns a 50.01 percent majority stake in CSeries Aircraft Limited Partnership (CSALP), while Bombardier and Investissement Québec own about 34 percent and 16 percent, respectively. CSALP's head office, primary assembly line and related functions are based in Mirabel, Québec, ground will be broken this year on a second assembly line in Mobile, Ala., at the site where Airbus builds A320 series jetliners. (Post)

Both the Airbus-Bombardier and Boeing-Embraer deals are changing the landscape of competition to build jetliners. Bombardier and Embraer were once seen as potential competitors, and now they are part of two larger teams.

Airbus and Boeing both face the possibility that they'll one day be competing against aircraft built by China and Russia, but that will be a long time coming.

The C919 is a narrow-body twin-jet passenger jet built by Commercial Aircraft Corporation of China (COMAC). It’s designed to compete with the Airbus A320 series and the Boeing 737 family. Russia’s competitor in this category is the Ikrut MC-21.

How well those competitors will do outside their home countries is yet to be seen. The single-aisle market is dominated by Airbus and Boeing, which produce hundreds of these aircraft each year. They have a global supplier chain in place and an impressive track record.

Cracking that duopoly is no small feat. The new competitors still face a long road ahead and a lot of hurdles. But something to keep in mind in an age where jet manufacturers are finding ways to join forces. Russia and China have also shown a willingness to work together. They are jointly developing a wide-body jet through the China-Russia Commercial Aircraft International Corporation.

In other items of interest to the Gulf Coast aerospace region during the week:

An Aerojet Rocketdyne AR-22 rocket engine that will be used in a reuseable military aircraft has gone through a series of tests at NASA's Stennis Space Center, the rocket engine test facility in South Mississippi. The engine, a variant of the RS-25, was tested over a 10-day period, fired up for 100 seconds and then doing it again 24 hours later. (Post)

-- Relativity Space will be one of the few domestic players in a segment of the market dominated by foreign firms. This could put the company, which is focused on building 3D printed rockets, in an advantageous position to compete for military contracts. A launch site in the United States will be selected later this year. The company expects to fly its Terran 1 rocket by late 2020, with a goal to start commercial launches in 2021. Terran’s 3D printed engine, named Aeon 1, is being tested at Stennis Space Center, where the company signed a 20-year lease. (Post)

Naval Air Station Whiting Field in Milton, Fla., is where generations of naval aviators have learned to fly. Started at the height of World War II to meet the nation's demand for aviators, Whiting will soon mark its 75th anniversary. (Post)

DynCorp International, Fort Worth, Texas, was awarded a $14.9 million contract modification for continued contractor operated and maintained base supply support. Work will be performed at Columbus Air Force Base, Miss.; Laughlin AFB, Texas; Randolph AFB, Texas; Sheppard AFB, Texas; Vance AFB, Okla.; Air Force Combat Systems Officer at Naval Air Station Pensacola, Fla.; Navy Naval Flight Officer at NAS Pensacola, Fla.; NAS Whiting Field, Fla.; NAS Corpus Christi, Texas; NAS Patuxent River, Md. (satellite), and Army Aviation Flight Test Directorate (satellite). Work is expected to be completed by Sept. 30, 2018. Air Force Life Cycle Management Center, Training Aircraft Division, Joint Primary Aircraft Training System, Wright-Patterson Air Force Base, Ohio, is the contracting activity. … Northrop Grumman Undersea Systems, Annapolis, Md., was awarded a $9.9 million modification to the previously awarded contract to exercise options for the accomplishment of depot level repair, maintenance, and modifications of the AN/AQS-24 mine detecting system to support the Navy for the currently deployed airborne mine countermeasures legacy systems. Work will be performed in Annapolis and is expected to be completed by April 2019. The Naval Surface Warfare Center, Panama City Division, Panama City, Fla., is the contracting activity.