Saturday, January 19, 2019

Week in review (1/6 to 1/19)

Years from now people who visit the A220 assembly line at the Mobile Aeroplex will be able to look at a white structural beam and read the names of many if not all of the 700 people who participated in the ceremonial groundbreaking Jan. 16.

Yup, I added my name.

The groundbreaking Wednesday for the $300 million A220 final assembly line included a fireworks display. When the line is completed, it will be the second passenger jet assembly line in the city. Mobile at that point will be the fourth largest jetliner assembly center in the world.

Work on the site that will eventually produce four A220 jets every month began prior to the ceremonial groundbreaking. The first delivery is expected in 2020. Dignitaries on hand for the event included Alabama Gov. Kay Ivey and Airbus Chief Executive Officer Tom Enders.

The A220 is the smallest member of the Airbus line of passenger jets and is the former Bombardier CSeries. Airbus took over majority interest in the program under an Airbus/Bombardier partnership. Airbus also plans to expand its A320 workforce. In total, the company expects to hire some 600 new employees over the next 18 months. (Post)

While the assembly line is being built, Airbus is seeking its first candidates to fill manufacturing positions for the new line. Positions include aircraft structure/installation mechanics, installers for aircraft cabin furnishings and aircraft electricians.

Successful candidates for all positions will participate in several weeks of training at AIDT in a combination of classroom and on-the-job training. Some candidates will also have on-the-job training in Mirabel, Canada, where the planes are currently being built.

Production on the first aircraft begins in Q3 2019. In addition to the positions for the new A220 production facility, Airbus is also hiring for similar production positions in its current A320 production facility. (Post)

In addition to all that, details have begun to emerge on the incentives that will be offered to Airbus as it builds a new jet assembly line in Mobile, including $4 million in cash from the city and an equal amount from Mobile County. Details were spelled out in project agreement on the Mobile City Council agenda. (Post)

Relativity Space, a three-year-old start-up that aims to build rockets using 3D printers, announced a contract Thursday with the Air Force to build and operate a launch facility at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station, Fla. The five-year multi-user agreement means Relativity can begin operating out of Launch Complex 16 (LC-16), the historic location built in the 1950s and site of hundreds of American space launches.

There is no monetary exchange or lease payment to the Air Force. The agreement includes an option to extend for an exclusive 20-year term. Relativity is the fourth private company to have an orbital launch site at Cape Canaveral. The others are SpaceX, United Launch Alliance and Blue Origin. Relativity CEO Tim Ellis estimates the launch facilities represent more than $10 million worth of existing infrastructure.

Relativity has built one of the world’s largest 3-D printers, called Stargate, and has developed its own rocket engine, Aeon 1. Relativity has a 20-year leasing agreement with NASA's Stennis Space Center (SSC), Miss., to test fire its rocket engines. The contract gives Relativity access to four testing chambers at SSC.

Relativity, headquartered in Los Angeles, Calif., is looking for more space in L.A. It has grown from 14 employees a year ago to 60 today. (Post)

-- The government shutdown is impacting NASA's Space Launch System (SLS). Qualification testing on the SLS’s intertank and hydrogen tank will be pushed back Marshall Space Flight Center in Huntsville, Ala. It also means testing can't even begin on the hydrogen tank, which arrived at Marshall after being shipped by barge from Michoud Assembly Facility in New Orleans.

The testing to ensure rocket components can withstand harsh launch conditions has already been completed for the engine. The furlough also means NASA and Boeing employees have halted modifications to the stand at Stennis Space Center, Miss., that will hold the rocket during a test-fire of all four engines. (Post)

Late in the week SpaceFlight Insider reported that the core was loaded onto the 215-foot tall test stand 4693 at NASA’s Marshall Space Flight Center in Huntsville Jan. 14. (Story)

Allegiant Air announced the debut of non-stop service from the Destin-Fort Walton Beach Airport (VPS) to Omaha's Eppley Airfield (OMA) and Tulsa International Airport (TUL) beginning June 6, 2019. Tracy Stage, Okaloosa County Airport Director, said the new services brings the airport's total of non-stop destinations to 30. (Post)

Marine Corps Reserve Col. Leonard F. Anderson IV has been nominated for appointment to the rank of brigadier general. Anderson is currently serving as the assistant wing commander, 4th Marine Aircraft Wing, U.S. Marine Corps Forces Reserve, New Orleans, Louisiana. The nomination was among multiple nominations announced today by Acting Secretary of Defense Patrick M. Shanahan. (Post)

Lockheed Martin Aeronautics Co., Fort Worth, Texas, was awarded $68.9 million for delivery order 0104 against a previously issued basic ordering agreement. This order provides for the design, development, documentation, integration, and test of upgrades to the U.S. Reprogramming Laboratory to execute the Mission Data (MD) programming and reprogramming mission for the F-35 Digital Channelized Receiver/Technique Generator and Tuner Insertion Program (DTIP) and non-DTIP configurations. Work will be performed in Fort Worth, Texas (65 percent); Baltimore, Md. (25 percent); and Eglin Air Force Base, Fla. (10 percent), and is expected to be completed in May 2021. The Naval Air Systems Command, Patuxent River, Md., is the contracting activity. … C4 Planning Solutions, Blythe, Ga., was awarded a maximum ceiling $45.5 million contract with a five-year ordering period and option to extend services up to six months for tactical systems support and professional engineering services for the Marine Corps Tactical Systems Support Activity. Two percent of the work will be done in New Orleans, La. The Marine Corps Systems Command, Quantico, Va., is the contract activity. … Raytheon Missile Systems, Tucson, Ariz., was awarded a $21 million modification to the ceiling amount of the previously-awarded contract for advanced medium range air-to-air missile system improvement program software architecture and design risk reduction efforts to counter evolving threats. Work will be performed in Tucson. Air Force Life Cycle Management Center, Eglin Air Force Base, Fla., is the contracting activity.

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