Saturday, November 3, 2018

Week in review (10/28 to 11/3)

If there was a major take-away from the two-day Aerospace Alliance Summit at the Grand Hotel in Point Clear, Ala., it was that the aerospace sector in this region is on a growth trajectory, and that steps need to be taken to ensure the workforce pipeline is filled.

More than 100 folks participated in the annual event that focuses on issues important to the industry in Alabama, Florida, Louisiana and Mississippi. One of the presentations Friday was by Paul Gaskell, who is heading up the Airbus A220 final assembly line project in Mobile.

The A220 project along with the expected growth of the A320 production rate will double the size of the Airbus footprint at the Mobile Aeroplex over the next few years, he said. The current assembly line is doing four jetliners a month and will deliver its 100th A320 jetliner in December to Frontier Airlines. That plane is currently on the assembly line. The Mobile plant will build its first extended range A321 next year, Gaskell said.

As for the A220 line, right now they are finalizing construction plans. Haskell said during the summit that with the A320 assembly line it took three years from project launch to start of assembly. For the A220, it will be 13 months. Like the A320 assembly line, major sections will be brought to Mobile from a variety of locations, including Belfast, Montreal and Italy.

Airbus has committed to going to an annual rate 60 A320s by mid-2019, up from the current 48. “Getting to rate 60 is an extremely difficult task, especially in Europe,” said Gaskell. “But here, we have room to grow, and therefore, I can’t announce anything, but we will definitely grow in Alabama.”

Airbus is working towards creating a technical school of its own that would help provide it with the larger workforce it expects it will need with the ramp up of the A320 production line and the new A220 production line. The school was mentioned Thursday by Stephanie Burt, director of Human Resources for the Airbus U.S. Manufacturing Facility at the Mobile Aeroplex. Airbus currently has 480 direct employees and will be hiring 400 to 500 workers for the new A220 assembly line and another 150 for the A320 line as production ramps up to meet customer demand.

She said that at this point Airbus has enough qualified applicants, but that will not necessarily be the case in the future with so many jobs that will be created. The school would open next year and will not be a technical school in the traditional sense of a two-year college, but rather a place where someone who went to a two-year school could come and be assessed over three- to five-week program before being put in a position at the plant or “you come to us with nothing and in 12 weeks we have you capable to go out and do some OJT (on-the-job-training).” (Post)

While Mobile’s footprint is clearly growing, to the east in Pensacola, Fla., growth is also in the cards. ST Engineering and the city of Pensacola signed a memorandum of understanding (MOU) for additional maintenance, repair and overhaul hangars at Pensacola International Airport, adjacent to a 173,500 square-foot hangar that opened this summer. It will bring about 1,000 additional aerospace jobs to Pensacola.

ST Engineering will invest $35 million in the $210 million project. The MOU was signed Oct. 27 in Singapore. Under the agreement, ST Engineering and the city of Pensacola will develop the MRO complex over four years after the formalization of definitive agreements. The 655,000 square-foot design-to-build complex will consist of three state-of-the-art widebody aircraft hangars and an administration building. Since opening in June 2018, the current facility has already redelivered 25 aircraft. (Post)

Tech park
Setting up a Community Redevelopment Agency or business improvement district at the Fort Walton Beach Commerce and Technology Park could generate money to help pay for improvements, including more buildings.

That's according to City Manager Michael Beedie. The park is home to about 70 businesses, ranging from Fortune 100 companies such as Boeing and Lockheed Martin to local-based businesses like Props Craft Brewery and Fort Walton Machining.

“When you have an aging asset and you’re not tuned into competitive realities, a great jewel can pass you by if you don’t try to chart a new path,” said Nathan Sparks, executive director of the Economic Development Council of Okaloosa County.

Beedie and Sparks said much of the park’s long-term future will be guided by its ongoing master plan, a draft version of which will be presented to the City Council on Nov. 13. (Post)

Members of the Florida Defense Support Task Force have toured Tyndall Air Force Base to survey the considerable damage caused by Hurricane Michael. Officials say Tyndall should be up and running by January.

Jay Trumbull, state representative and chair for the task force, said Tyndall's needs will be met with a significant structural rebuild. The task force, which has an interest in all military installations in the state, offers support on a state level. Rep. Neal Dunn said the rebuild will mean a brand new Tyndall, updated to the needs of the 21st century. Currently around 35 percent of infrastructure on base has significant damage. (Post)

Lockheed Martin Aerospace Co., Fort Worth, Texas, was awarded a $130.4 million modification to a previously awarded contract in support of the F35 Block 4 Pre-modernization Phase II effort. Work will be performed in Fort Worth and is expected to be completed in March 2020. The Naval Air Systems Command, Patuxent River, Md., is the contracting activity. ... Lockheed Martin Corp., Fort Worth, Texas, also was awarded a $64.3 million modification to a previously awarded contract that exercises an option to procure one lot of F-35 training devices for the Marine Corps. Work will be performed in Florida, Virginia, Oregon, Ohio, California, and the United Kingdom and is expected to be completed in July 2021. The Naval Air Systems Command, Patuxent River, Md., is the contracting activity. ... Lockheed Martin Space, Sunnyvale, Calif., was awarded a $129.5 million contract under a Foreign Military Sales (FMS) case to the United Arab Emirates (UAE). Under this new contract, the contractor will provide maintenance and sustainment for two Terminal High Altitude Area Defense Batteries for UAE. The work will be performed in California, Alabama, Florida and the United Arab Emirates, with an expected period of performance of Nov. 1, 2018, through July 2, 2021. The Missile Defense Agency, Huntsville, Ala., is the contracting activity ... Multiple companies, including Science and Management Resources Inc., of Pensacola, Fla., were awarded a ceiling $473 million contract for the Air Force Enterprise Contracted Precision Measurement Equipment Laboratories Services II. Work will be performed at various Air Force bases in the continental U.S. and outside the continental U.S., and is expected to be completed by Sept. 30, 2028. Headquarters Air Combat Command Acquisition Management and Integration Center, Joint Base Langley-Eustis, Va., is the contracting activity. ... General Dynamics Information Technology Inc., Fairfax, Va., was awarded a $54.4 million modification to a previously awarded contract. This modification provides integrated logistics support for multiple foreign military sales (FMS) customers using purchased Navy defense articles including weapon systems, various aircraft, and other components procured under FMS programs. Work will be performed in at Patuxent River, Md. (52 percent); Philadelphia, Pa. (11 percent); Jacksonville, Fla. (2.5 percent); Pensacola, Fla. (1.5 percent); Mechanicsburg, Pa. (1 percent); various locations within the continental U.S. (4 percent); and various locations outside the continental U.S. (28 percent), and is expected to be completed in October 2019. The Naval Air Systems Command, Patuxent River, is the contracting activity.

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