Saturday, September 15, 2018

Week in review (9/9 to 9/15)

Leaders in this region are clearly serious about the education and training of a workforce that can handle the growing number of aviation jobs that are coming down the pike.

During the week there was a ceremonial groundbreaking at the Mobile Aeroplex marking the start of construction of the Flight Works Alabama education center. The $6.5 million center is being built near the Airbus manufacturing facility and across from Continental Motors.

"The future of our state begins right here," said Gov. Kay Ivey about the hands-on learning center. It's designed to bolster Alabama's workforce development efforts and inspire young people.

Jeff Knittel, Airbus Americas chairman and CEO, said what the industry needs is a workforce not only for today, but one ready for the future. He said the center will help in a fun and creative way.

Of particular importance is that the center will be an education hub, with nine educational institutions, including Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University, signing up to have programs at the center.

Under an agreement with Airbus, Embry-Riddle will offer its award-winning educational programs at Flight Works, making it the latest Embry-Riddle Worldwide Campus. It will offer targeted associates, bachelors and masters degree programs, high school dual-enrollment opportunities, specialized training and continuing education.

The other education partners are Auburn University, Bishop State Community College, Coastal Alabama Community College, Troy University, Tuskegee University, University of South Alabama, University of Alabama, and the University of West Alabama.

The center is due to open in late 2019. (Post)

The hands-on nature of the center will add yet another link to the already significant number of learning centers along the Gulf Coast I-10 region. All are designed to pique the interest of youth in science and technology careers.

Back in July 2016, I wrote about the region's learning centers, and at the time said how surprised I was that someone hadn't thought of putting them all together in a multi-day family-focused education tour. (Gulf Coast Reporters’ League Business Quarterly, pages 24-37). I still think that's a great idea that not only piques the interest of youth, but goes a long way to dispell the stereotype of this region - and the South in general. Maybe now with Airbus added to the mix that might happen.

What is really striking to me about the approach of Flight Works Alabama is the genius behind the idea of putting under one roof the hands-on experience with educational opportunities. If someone comes in and looks at the exhibits and gets fired up, it makes sense to have the educational opportunities right there to give them a sense of the pathways that will get them involved in aerospace and aviation.

If this education and training talk intrigues you, then you should know that we'll be writing about all the aviation education opportunities in the four states with a piece of the I-10 region in our October issue of the Gulf Coast Aerospace Corridor/Gulf Coast Reporters’ League aerospace newsletter. It will be a real eye-opener.

Northrop Grumman recently began flight tests for MQ-8C Fire Scout unmanned helicopters produced at the Trent Lott International Airport in Moss Point, Miss. It's a major milestone for the company and the region's aerospace economy.

The plant is key to producing and testing the MQ-8C Fire Scout, the Navy's newest autonomous helicopter that is bringing increased speed, endurance and payload capacity to maritime operations.

The Navy recently completed initial operational test and evaluation aboard the USS Coronado (LCS 4) for the MQ-8C Fire Scout, which has over 1,500 program flight hours. The aircraft is a modified Bell 407 helicopter, and final assembly is done in Moss Point at a 101,000-square-foot plant that opened in 2006 and now works on the Fire Scout and Global Hawk unmanned systems and does subassembly work for the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter.

"Building on Northrop Grumman's recent announcement of new production capabilities in Moss Point and a 40 percent increase in employment at the site, the ability to now conduct MQ-8C Fire Scout flight tests where the production occurs will bring new efficiencies and effectiveness to our local operations and improve our ability to serve the U.S. Navy," said Melissa Packwood, program director, Fire Scout, Northrop Grumman. (Post)

-- Skyborne Technology, Inc., a designer and developer of manned and unmanned next generation aviation systems, has opened a manufacturing facility in Florida's Gulf County.

Skyborne said it chose the area to have access to employ manned and unmanned aircraft pilots, skilled manufacturing labor for composites, aircraft aluminum and high bulletproof fabrics.

The manufacturing facility is at the Gulf County Industrial Park near Wewahitchka. The company’s target markets are agriculture, communications, education, defense, border security, and more. The company plans to create up to 100 jobs. (Post)

Contracts F-35
Lockheed Martin Aeronautics Co., Fort Worth, Texas, was awarded an $88 million modification to a previously awarded contract. This modification exercises an option for F-35 Lightning II low-rate initial production Lot XI support equipment for the Marine Corps. Work will be performed in Florida, California, Connecticut, Texas, Ohio, Maryland, Australia and Italy, and is expected to be completed in September 2022. The Naval Air Systems Command, Patuxent River, Md., is the contracting activity. ... Pratt and Whitney Military Engines, East Hartford, Conn., was awarded a $266 million contract for the procurement of program administrative labor for non-recurring sustainment activities; supplies, services and planning for depot activations; material and support equipment for depot maintenance facilities and mockup engines and modules for test cells in support of F-35 Air Force, Marine Corps, Navy, non-U.S. Department of Defense (DoD) participants and Foreign Military Sales (FMS) customers. Work will be performed in East Hartford and is expected to be completed in October 2021. The Naval Air Systems Command, Patuxent River, Md., is the contracting activity. ... Pratt and Whitney Military Engines also was awarded a $187.6 million modification to a previously awarded contract. This modification provides for fiscal 2018 Initial Spare Modules, Parts and Afloat/Deployment Spares Package in support of the F135 Lot 12 Propulsion Production contract. Work will be performed in Connecticut, Indiana and the United Kingdom and is expected to be completed in September 2021. The Naval Air Systems Command, Patuxent River, Md., is the contracting activity.

Contracts munitions
The Boeing Co. Defense, St. Louis, Mo., was awarded a $14 million contract for Small Diameter Bomb I focused lethality munition production assets. This contract provides for GBU-39 A/B weapons, and single weapon shipping/storage containers. Work will be performed in St. Louis and is expected to be 
completed by September 2020. Air Force Life Cycle Management Center, Eglin Air Force Base, Fla., is the contracting activity. … Lockheed Martin Corp., Orlando, Fla., was awarded a $51 million contract for Joint Air-to-Surface Standoff Missile Extreme Range (JASSM-XR). This contract effort includes all all-up round level systems engineering and programmatic activities to align and phase the work necessary to design, develop, integrate, test, and verify component and subsystem design changes to the JASSM-XR baseline electronics, hardware, firmware, and operational flight software. Work will be performed in Orlando and is expected to be completed by Aug. 31, 2023. Air Force Life Cycle Management Center, Eglin Air Force Base, Fla., is the contracting activity.

Contract aircraft maintenance
L3 Communications Vertex Aerospace LLC, Madison, Miss., was awarded a $202.9 million modification to a previously awarded contract to exercise an option for organizational, intermediate, and depot level maintenance, logistics, and engineering support for Navy T-45 aircraft, aircraft systems, and related support equipment for flight and test and evaluation operations. Work will be performed at the Naval Air Station (NAS) Kingsville, Texas (45.7 percent); NAS Meridian, Miss. (41.7 percent); NAS Pensacola, Fla. (10.1 percent); and NAS Patuxent River, Md. (2.5 percent), and is expected to be completed in September 2019. The Naval Air Systems Command, Patuxent River, is the contracting activity.

Other contract
Mississippi Department of Rehabilitation Services, Madison, Miss., was awarded a $7.4 million modification on a contract for full food services. The location of performance is Keesler Air Force Base, Miss., and work is expected to be completed by Sept. 30, 2019. The 81st Contracting Squadron, Keesler AFB, is the contracting activity. … EMR Inc., Niceville, Fla., was awarded $7.1 million for a task order under a previously awarded contract for repairs and modifications to Building 484 at Naval Support Activity, Panama City, Fla. Work will be performed in Panama City and is expected to be completed by September 2020. The Naval Facilities Engineering Command, Southeast, Jacksonville, Fla., is the contracting activity. … Seaside Engineering and Surveying LLC, Baker, Fla.; Gustin, Cothern and Tucker, Niceville, Fla.; Joyner Keeny PLLC, Rocky Mount, N.C.; Maptech Inc., Jackson, Miss.; Merrick and Co., Greenwood Village, Colo.; SurvTech Solutions Inc., Tampa, Fla.; and Woolpert Inc., Dayton, Ohio, will compete for each order of the $49 million contract for architect and engineering services for survey and mapping. Work locations and funding will be determined with each order, with an estimated completion date of Sept. 12, 2021. U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, Mobile, Ala., is the contracting activity.

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