Saturday, February 23, 2019

Week in review (2/17 to 2/23)

A group of Pensacola residents formed a committee that will try to force a city-wide referendum on the agreement to pay $5 million of city sales tax money to fund the $210 million ST Engineering expansion project at the Pensacola International Airport.

Citizens Against Corporate Welfare is invoking provision of the city charter that allows citizens to challenge a vote of the City Council with a city-wide voter referendum if 10 percent of registered city voters agree. The Pensacola City Council voted 4-3 earlier this month to approve an agreement with Escambia County to increase the city's funding for the project from $10 million to $15 million.

The project will expand ST Engineering's aircraft, maintenance and overhaul campus from one to four hangars and bring in 1,325 jobs on top of the 400 promised for the hangar that opened in 2018. Citizens Against Corporate Welfare will have to collect 4,005 verified signatures by mid-April to force a referendum. (Post)

I saw one of the members of the group on television the other day, saying that "bribing foreign-owned companies and providing them corporate welfare to compete with American companies is just unconscionable to me."

Well, thank you for defending large U.S. companies, none of which is proposing establishing an MRO in Pensacola. Surely this gentleman must know the foreign companies he's so concerned about have U.S. operations and hire U.S. workers - just like our companies have operations overseas and hire their workers.

Perhaps he has been out of the loop and doesn't understand that incentives are offered to companies, foreign and domestic, all over the country. Like it or not, right or wrong, the incentives are part of the economic development game.

I can just imagine, if this gentleman had been a resident of Mobile, Ala., what he would have thought about the incentives that were provided to bring an Airbus A320 assembly line to Mobile – or the more recent incentives to bring in a second assembly line to build A220 jetliners.

No doubt he would also have objected to the incentives that lured Mercedes to Alabama, the first in a series of automakers and supply manufactures that eventually made Alabama their home.

So for anyone approached to sign this petition, do so if you want. But I urge you to look at the long game.

By the way, Mississippi in the 1930s was the first state to make it official policy to get the public sector behind efforts to attract industry. The state created the Balancing Agriculture with Industries program, and it was controversial because it was considered socialist. Incentives had been offered on the local level for years, but BAWI gave the activity a state's blessing. It was BAWI that helped lure Ingalls Shipbuilding to Pascagoula, which remains the largest employer in the state. BAWI served as a model for other parts of the South, then over time the rest of the nation.

So there you have it.


Military
Money programmed for two construction projects planned for Eglin Air Force Base could be steered to construction of a U.S.-Mexico border wall under terms of President Donald Trump's declaration of a national emergency.

U.S. Rep. Matt Gaetz, R-Fla., confirmed that a proposed $34.9 million outlay for an F-35A training center and a proposed $28 million outlay for an F-35A student dormitory are part of the $3.6 billion in military construction funding that Trump could tap for the wall.

In all, Florida bases could lose up to $177 million for planned construction, according to a list compiled by the House Appropriations Committee. (Post)

-- Brig. Gen. David J. Francis, director, Army Aviation, Office of the Deputy Chief of Staff, at the U.S. Army in Washington, D.C., will become the new commanding general of the U.S. Army Aviation Center of Excellence and Fort Rucker, Ala.

Maj. Gen. William K. Gayler, current commanding general of the U.S. Army Aviation Center of Excellence and Fort Rucker, was nominated as director, J-3 Operations/Cyber, U.S. Africa Command in Germany. (Post)


Airports
New Orleans airport passenger traffic hit a new high in 2018. More than 13.1 million travelers flew in and out of Louis Armstrong New Orleans International Airport last year, up 9.3 percent from 2017. It marks a fourth consecutive year of passenger growth at the airport.

Meanwhile, a new $1 billion terminal, currently under construction on the north side of the airport property, is set to open May 15. It will have fewer overall gates than the existing terminal, but several gates at the aging facility have been closed for years. (Post)


Newsletter
The February 2019 Gulf Coast Reporters League/Gulf Coast Aerospace Corridor Newsletter is available for download.

It includes a stories about the groundbreaking for the A220 final assembly line in Mobile, Ala., and the Navy's official opening of Site X in Jay, Fla.. There's also a summary of key stories that occurred since the last newsletter, including additional funding for Pensacola's maintenance, repair and overhaul project. (Post)


Contract
Tapestry Solutions Inc., a Boeing Co., San Diego, Calif., was awarded a $259 million contract for Weapon Planning Software (WPS). This contract provides for the development, enhancement, and support of the WPS suite, which is a common component within the Joint Mission Planning System architecture. Work will be performed predominately in St. Louis, Mo.; and Niceville, Fla. Work is expected to be complete by February 2029. Air Force Life Cycle Management Center, Eglin Air Force Base, Fla., is the contracting activity.

Saturday, February 16, 2019

Week in review (2/10 to 2/16)

The February issue of the Gulf Coast Reporters League/Gulf Coast Aerospace Corridor Newsletter will publish Tuesday. The eight-page PDF will be sent to the inbox subscribers, and also will be available for download at our website.

This issue includes a story about last month's groundbreaking for the new A220 final assembly line in Mobile, Ala. Some 700 folks showed up for the event at the Mobile Aeroplex at Brookley.

We'll also let you know what some press reports are saying about the new A220, the former Bombardier CSeries. The jetliner had its first revenue flight earlier this month. At least one reporter who took a flight said he’d take this plane over others.

There's also a story about the opening of the Navy’s newest outlying field, Site X in Santa Rosa County, Fla. It's now being used to train military aviators from Naval Air Station Whiting Field. The Navy says the new 600-acre field in the community of Jay is more capable than OLF 8, the field it replaced in Escambia County. That 600-acre parcel is destined for development.

We'll also tell you about the successful effort to raise additional money for the expansion of the ST Engineering maintenance, repair and overhaul (MRO) footprint at Pensacola International Airport. It's part of a package of stories bringing you up to speed on what's happened in the region since the last newsletter in December.

Now for your week in review:


MRO
The ST Engineering MRO expansion project got another $20 million during the week when the Florida Department of Transportation upped its commitment to a total of $45 million.

FDOT is amending its work program to removing funding from several other projects to fund the airport project, a process it said takes about eight weeks. FDOT's work program and budget will still need to be reviewed by the Florida Legislature, but if approved, Pensacola will receive the funding in 2021 for the project.

The $210 million expansion would add three more hangars to the one already in place at Pensacola International Airport. It would add another 1,325 jobs. (Post)


Airbus
With Airbus expecting to need more workers for its A320 assembly line and A220 line that is now being built, it's holding recruiting drives at Naval Air Station Pensacola, Fla., Tuesday and at Keesler Air Force Base, Miss., Feb. 28.

Military I.D. is required to attend to recruiting open houses. Airbus and its hiring partner, AIDT, are seeking candidates (retired military, Guard, Reserve or active duty) to fill positions at the A220 assembly line.

The open house at NAS Pensacola is 10 a.m. to 3 p.m., Building 741. The open house at Keesler AFB is 10:30 a.m. to 2:30 p.m., at Sablich Center, Room 108B. (Post)


Space
NASA resumed RS-25 rocket engine testing for its new Space Launch System (SLS) rocket with a hot fire test during the week on the A-1 Test Stand at Stennis Space Center (SSC), Miss.

The hot fire marked the first RS-25 test of the year at SSC, continuing a series with developmental engine No. 0525 that began last August. The test once more featured a flight controller to be used on an SLS mission and marked the third time since last February that NASA has powered its RS-25 engine up to 113 percent of original thrust.

NASA is testing RS-25 engines to help power the SLS rocket, being built to send humans deeper into space than ever before. Four RS-25 engines, firing simultaneously, will produce 2 million pounds of combined thrust during SLS launch and ascent.

The test was the first since mid-December, when a test was terminated early due to an observed anomaly.(Post)


Airports
Two airports during the week announced new service.

At Destin-Fort Walton Beach Airport (VPS), Allegiant Airlines announced the debut of non-stop service to seven cities: Des Moines, Iowa; Huntington (Tri-State), W. Va.; Little Rock, Ark.; Rockford/Chicago, Ill.; Shreveport, La.; Toledo, Ohio/Detroit, Mich.; and Wichita, Kan.

"We couldn't be more proud of our partnership with Allegiant Air and the seven new non-stop flights from the Destin-Fort Walton Beach Airport, bringing our total to 37 non-stop destinations," said Tracy Stage, Okaloosa County Airports Director. All seven nonstop routes will operate twice weekly. (Post)

In addition, Silver Airways announced the debut of daily non-stop service from VPS to Orlando International Airport (MCO) beginning on May 17, 2019. Silver will announce its flight schedule and propose fares Feb. 19, when tickets will go on sale. (Post)

Over at Pensacola International Airport (PNS), Silver Airways has launched daily nonstop service to Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood International Airport (FLL). Silver is offering introductory fares from $89 available at SilverAirways.com for a limited time for travel between Feb. 13 and May 22 for ticketing before Nov. 19.

"The commencement of direct service to Ft. Lauderdale and the South Florida area provides another link to one of the Pensacola Gulf Coast Region’s top ten market areas and important connecting opportunities on the Silver network to Key West and the Bahamas," said Pensacola Airport Director Dan Flynn. (Post)


Contracts
Lockheed Martin Corp., Fort Worth, Texas, was awarded a $14.5 million modification to a previously awarded contract to provide for initial lay-in of repair material for seven F-35 Lightning II systems at various depots in support of the Air Force, Marine Corps, Navy, non-U.S. Department of Defense (DoD) participants, and Foreign Military Sales (FMS) customers. Work is expected to be completed in July 2024. The Naval Air Systems Command, Patuxent River, Md., is the contracting activity. Eglin Air Force Base, Fla., is home of the F-35 integrated training center. … McKinsey & Co. Inc., Washington, D.C., was awarded $15.7 million modification to a delivery order previously issued against a blanket purchase agreement in support of the F-35 Lightning II affordability campaign for the Navy, Marine Corps, and Air Force. The Naval Air Systems Command, Patuxent River, Md., is the contracting activity.

Saturday, February 9, 2019

Week in review (1/27 to 2/9)

Triumph Gulf Coast will now provide another $10 million for Pensacola's ST Engineering expansion project, upping the previous award of $56 million. The funding is $2.5 million less than what the city wanted.

The initial grant of $56 million called for a commitment to create 1,325 jobs and keep them in the community for at least three years. Now that’s up to seven years with the additional money.

Earlier this week, the Pensacola City Council and Escambia County Commission each approved committing an additional $5 million a piece to the project, a 50 percent increase for each government.

The $210 million project would expand ST Engineering's aircraft maintenance, repair and overhaul (MRO) footprint at Pensacola International Airport from the current one to four hangars. ST Engineering’s first hangar opened in June and cost $46 million, and the company plans to hire 400 people.

The city still has a shortfall of nearly $25 million. Pensacola Mayor Grover Robinson is optimistic that $20 million of that will come from the Florida Department of Transportation. (Post)

A lot of people don’t understand the reason incentives are offered to companies, arguing that those international companies have the money to cushion the cost on their own. But the problem is, everybody is playing that game. If you don’t offer them, someone else will and the jobs will go elsewhere.


Military
The Navy's newest outlying landing field is now being used to train military helicopter pilots. There was a ribbon-cutting Jan. 30 that marked the ceremonial transfer of Site X in Santa Rosa County to the Navy.

Exchange of the signed deeds, which is the act that finalized change of ownership for both properties of some 600 acres each, was the day before the ribbon-cutting. The Navy ceased operations at NOLF Site 8 in neighboring Escambia County the same day.

The National Defense Authorization Act in 2015 authorized the land exchange, the first of its kind for the Navy. In June 2016, the Navy and Escambia County signed a land exchange agreement to formalize the intentions to transfer the property at Site 8 to Escambia County, in exchange for a suitable landing field in Santa Rosa County. Escambia County plans to develop the former Site 8, possibly as a commerce park. (Post)


Contracts
Lockheed Martin Aeronautics Co., Fort Worth, Texas, was awarded a $90.3 million contract modification. This modification provides for the identification and execution of cost reduction initiatives to reduce the cost of the F-35 Lightning II Air System. Work will be performed in Fort Worth, Texas, and is expected to be completed in June 2022. The Naval Air Systems Command, Patuxent River, Md., is the contracting activity. … In another F-35-related contract, Lockheed Martin Aeronautics Co., Fort Worth, Texas, was awarded $52.4 million modification to a previously issued delivery order placed against basic ordering agreement. This modification provides for additional ancillary mission equipment for F-35 Lightning II aircraft in support of the Marine Corps, Air Force, Navy, non-U.S. Department of Defense (non-U.S. DoD), participants and Foreign Military Sales (FMS) customers. Work will be performed in Fort Worth and is expected to be completed in June 2022. The Naval Air Systems Command, Patuxent River, Md., is the contracting activity. ... In a third contract, Lockheed Martin Corp., Fort Worth, Texas, was awarded $31.3 million modification to a previously awarded contract for sustainment services for F-35 Lightning II low-rate initial production Lot X aircraft for the government of Australia. Work will be performed in Williamtown, Australia, and is expected to be completed in January 2021. The Naval Air Systems Command, Patuxent River, Md., is the contracting activity. … Northrop Grumman Systems Corp., San Diego, Calif., was awarded $55 million for a modification to a previously awarded contract. This modification provides for the procurement of five Fire Scout MQ-8C unmanned air systems and two lightweight fuel cells. Moss Point, Miss., will perform 16 percent of the work and Ozark, Ala., 27 percent. The Naval Air Systems Command, Patuxent River, Md., is the contracting activity. ... The Boeing Co., St. Louis, Mo., was awarded a $56.8 million contract that provides program management support as well as engineering and integrated logistics support by the original equipment manufacturer for the post-production support phase of the T-45 aircraft lifecycle. Work will be performed in St. Louis (96.1 percent); Meridian, Miss. (1.3 percent); Kingsville, Texas (1.3 percent); and Pensacola, Fla. (1.3 percent), and is expected to be completed in January 2022. The Naval Air Warfare Center Training Systems Division, Orlando, Fla., is the contracting activity. … Andromeda Systems Inc., Virginia Beach, Va., was awarded a $42 million contract to provide engineering support services and associated engineering technical services in support of the Fleet Readiness Center South East’s In-Service Support Center. Among other places, some of the work will be performed at Naval Air Station Whiting Field in Milton, Fla. The Naval Air Warfare Center Training Systems Division, Orlando, Fla., is the contracting activity. … Homeland Security Solutions Inc., Hampton, Va., was awarded a $10.3 million contract for program management support, training, human resources services and non-guard security support services. New Orleans will perform 2 percent of the work. The Marine Corps Installations National Capitol Region - Regional Contracting Office, Marine Corps Base Quantico, Va., is the contracting activity.