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.

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