One of the most anticipated will be the testing of the Space Launch System core stage at Stennis Space Center, Miss. In the "green run" test, at some point all four RS-25 engines will be fired at the same time while the core is held in place at the B-2 test stand. It will be loud, that I can tell you. But when in 2019 it will occur is uncertain. The timeline keeps slipping.
But that's just one of the things to expect in 2019. We will also see the construction of a new jetliner assembly line in Mobile, Ala., this one for the Airbus A220. Mobile is already building the popular A320s at the Mobile Aeroplex, and has delivered more than 100 so far. The A220 line will deliver its first jet in 2020. There is likely to be progress as well on the tech school Airbus wants to create in Mobile.
We're also likely to see construction begin on the expanded maintenance, repair and overhaul (MRO) campus in Pensacola, Fla., assuming all the required funding is landed. There is one ST Engineering MRO at Pensacola International Airport, but plans are to build three more hangars.
We can also expect to see forward progress on the Whiting Aviation Park near Naval Air Station Whiting Field in Milton, Fla. It will also have an MRO, but this one for military aircraft. It is also likely to be a location for an aviation tech school.
You'll also see more progress in the rebuilding of Tyndall Air Force Base, Fla., which was hammered by Hurricane Michael in October. The Air Force now wants to base F-35s at that base near Panama City.
Those are just the most obvious things. But what I particularly like about tracking aerospace and aviation activities in the region is that there's bound to be things that will happen that are completely unexpected.
Now for a review of news items that occurred while this column was on hiatus:
The huge liquid hydrogen tank that was built at NASA's Michoud Assembly Facility is now in north Alabama, but it is still sitting on the barge Pegasus in the Tennessee River waiting to be offloaded. The problem is, the river is still too high.
The tank was sent to Huntsville for testing as part of NASA's program to eventually return astronauts to deep space. The 149-foot-long tank, which weighs more than 100,000 pounds and is the largest ever built here, is part of the Space Launch System.
The tank is a test model that won't actually be launched. It was moved out of the New Orleans factory to the barge and traveled up the river to north Alabama. It will undergo tests at Marshall Space Flight Center designed to mimic the conditions of traveling into space. The tank holds 537,000 gallons of liquid hydrogen that along with liquid oxygen will help propel the rocket and its cargo into space. (Post)
The tank arrived in north Alabama Dec. 26, but has been tied up beside the Tennessee River waiting to be unloaded. Rain in the Southeast has swollen the river and the crew handling the tanks move to Marshall has to wait for the level to drop before the tank can be removed from the barge. (Story)
The final assembly line hasn't been built, but orders for the new passenger jet it will produce are coming in.
JetBlue and Moxy Airlines each have firmed up orders for 60 A220-300 jetliners, all of them to be built in Mobile. The A220, the former CSeries jet, is being produced in a partnership between Airbus and Canada's Bombardier in a deal reached last year.
Construction of a new final assembly line to assemble the A220 aircraft is expected to begin later this month at the Mobile Aeroplex at Brookley. The first plane is expected to be delivered in 2020. (Post)
Pensacola is moving ahead with the design of the next hangar of the ST Engineering campus, although full funding for the four-year project is still pending, according to Mayor Grover Robinson.
Lining up the remaining funding for the $210 million project to expand ST Engineering's maintenance, repair and overhaul facility at the Pensacola International Airport has become the top priority of Robinson's administration since taking office a month ago.
The expanded facility is expected to bring in an additional 1,325 jobs and will consist of three additional hangars similar to the one that opened in June, as well as an office, warehouse and shop buildings at the airport. (Post)
During this column’s two-week hiatus, these are the contracts that were awarded. They are listed based on the size of the award, from largest to smallest:
Lockheed Martin Corp., Lockheed Martin Aeronautics Co., Fort Worth, Texas, was awarded $712.5 million for a delivery order against a previously issued basic ordering agreement for the development of advanced hardware in support of the F-35 Lightning II Technology Refresh 3 (TR3) System. The Naval Air Systems Command, Patuxent River, Md., is the contracting activity. … Rolls-Royce Corp., Indianapolis, Ind., was awarded a $218.7 million contract action to provide intermediate and depot level maintenance and related logistics support for in-service T-45 F405-RR-401 Adour engines. Eleven percent of the work will be done in Pensacola, Fla. The Naval Air Warfare Center Training Systems Division, Orlando, Fla., is the contracting activity. … United Technologies Corp., Pratt & Whitney Military Engines, East Hartford, Conn., was awarded a $230.1 million contract to provide testing support for the F-35 Lightning II Propulsion System Block 4 Flight Test Program for the Navy, Marine Corps, Air Force and the non-U.S. Department of Defense (non-U.S. DoD) participants. The Naval Air Systems Command, Patuxent River, Maryland, is the contracting activity. … Summit Technologies Inc., Pensacola, Fla., and Cognition LLC, Panama City, Fla., were among the companies that will compete for each order of a $168 million contract for training strategies, concepts, and products. U.S. Army Mission and Installation Contracting Command, Fort Eustis, Va., is the contracting activity. … Raytheon Missile Systems, Tucson, Ariz., was awarded a $141.4 million contract to exercise an option to a previously awarded contract for Small Diameter Bomb (SDB) II. Air Force Life Cycle Management Center, Eglin Air Force Base, Fla., is the contracting activity. … Lockheed Martin Corp., Orlando, Fla., was awarded a $99.3 million contract to procure equipment and tooling needed to increase Joint Air-to-Surface Standoff Missile/Long Range Anti-Ship Missile production to a maximum rate where installation is required during the construction phase of the new facility. Air Force Life Cycle Management Center, Eglin Air Force Base, Fla., is the contracting activity. … Risk Mitigation Consulting Inc., Destin, Fla., was awarded a $95 million contract for mission assurance assessments of installation/facilities infrastructure and facility-related control systems for the Department of the Navy. The Naval Facilities Engineering Command, Atlantic, Norfolk, Va., is the contracting activity. … The Boeing Co., St. Louis, Mo., was awarded a $76.6 million contract for the design, fabrication, installation, test and delivery of two F/A-18E Tactical Operational Flight trainers and two F/A-18E low cost trainers for the government of Kuwait under the Foreign Military Sales (FMS) program. Thirty percent of the work will be done in New Orleans. The Naval Air Warfare Center Training Systems Division, Orlando, Fla., is the contracting activity. … The Boeing Co., St. Louis, Mo., was awarded a $75 million modification to a previously awarded contract. This modification provides for non-recurring engineering in support of the incorporation of the initial Block III capability for the production of F/A-18E/F and EA-18G aircraft. Two percent of the work will be done in Ft. Walton Beach, Fla. The Naval Air Systems Command, Patuxent River, Md., is the contracting activity. … General Dynamics One Source LLC, Fairfax, Va., was awarded $45.2 million order against a previously issued General Services Administration, Government Wide Acquisition contract. This order provides a range of knowledge based and information technology support services. Five percent of the work will be done at Eglin Air Force Base, Fla. The Naval Air
Warfare Center Aircraft Division, Patuxent River, Md., is the contracting activity. … Lockheed Martin Corp., Lockheed Martin Aeronautics Co., Fort Worth, Texas, was awarded a $22.1 million modification to a previously awarded contract that provides sovereign data merge capabilities that ensure the integrity and protection of country unique data of participants that use the Autonomic Logistics Information systems in support of the F-35 program. The Naval Air Systems Command, Patuxent River, Md., is the contracting activity. … The Boeing Co., Oklahoma City, Okla., was awarded an estimated $14.4 million Option Three modification to a contract for KC-135 engineering services for sustainment. Some of the work will be done in Fort Walton Beach, Fla. Air Force Life Cycle Management Center, Tinker Air Force Base, Okla., is the contracting activity. … BAE Systems Technology Solutions & Services Inc., Rockville, Md., was awarded a $12.4 million contract modification to exercise Option One. The contract modification extends the contract term for an additional 12 months. Some of the work will be done in Fort Walton Beach, Fla. Air Force Sustainment Center, Tinker Air Force Base, is the contracting activity. … The Boeing Co., St. Louis, Mo., was awarded an $11.3 million modification to a contract for high rate compact telemetry units (HCTMs) and long laser wire harnesses. Air Force Life Cycle Management Center, Eglin Air Force Base, Fla., is the contract activity. … DMR Consulting Inc., Panama City Beach, Fla., was awarded a $9.4 million contract for depot level repair, overhaul, and modification for the MK-105 magnetic minesweeping gear. Work will be performed in Panama City. The Naval Surface Warfare Center Panama City Division is the contracting activity.