Saturday, April 20, 2019

Week in review (4/14 to 4/20)

As the editor of several Gulf Coast aerospace publications, I’m never sure when I go to events that are not specifically focused on aerospace what, if anything, I’ll come back with.

That was the case with the 22nd Gulf Power Economic Symposium, held Wednesday and Thursday at the Sandestin Resort in Miramar Beach. I go every year – there were 638 participants this year – because the event is always interesting and informative, with good speakers. And I usually get something out of it that’s aerospace-related.

Besides, I get to see folks I know who I don't get a chance to see on a regular basis.

I went Wednesday for just part of the day, then returned Thursday for the entire half-day event, where there were talks about innovation, public/private partnerships and what factors might make a company pick one site over another.

Thursday also included remarks by Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis, who talked about the trend of people, businesses and wealth moving from highly taxed, highly regulated states to places like Florida. He said Florida has low taxes, reasonable regulations and conservative spending. "I think we're seeing more and more people who want to come and invest in Florida for those reasons," he said.

DeSantis also talked about the state's approach to preparing workers for the future. He said that while Florida's university system is ranked No. 1 by U.S. News and World Report, the university path is not the only road to success.

"We set a goal to make Florida No. 1 in workforce education by 2030," he said, noting that the state is now in the middle of the pack. (Post)

After his talk, DeSantis spent a few minutes with reporters to answer questions. Needless to say, I took the opportunity to focus on aerospace, and asked him how the state is doing compared to other states as an aerospace power.

"I think that in many respects we're leading the way," he said. He pointed out that the growth in commercial space activity is "a very big deal," and said many of those companies have chosen Florida to set up operations. They use Florida not only for launches, but for manufacturing.

And he’s also interested in getting Florida on the radar for the Space Force – should that happen.

“I've been talking with the president about locating the combatant command for U.S. Space Force in Florida. He is definitely considering it ... I think Florida is uniquely positioned for that. We already have three combatant commands,” he said.

Getting the space force would not only be good substantively, but symbolically. “That would kind of show, hey, Florida is the place to be for space.”

I also asked him how Florida does compared to other states in K-12 education. After all, he said in his talk that the state’s higher education system ranks high, and that he intends to make it No. 1 in workforce training.

The governor pointed out that Florida is a diverse state, and K-12 education varies, but pointed out that the state’s NAEP (National Assessment of Educational Progress) scores have improved in the last 20 years, and recently made the top 10.

The need as he sees it is to focus on the basics, and to put more emphasis on vocational training at the high school level. One of his concerns is civics education, a very important part of schooling that ensure youth understand the basics and the nation’s foundation.

I couldn’t agree with him more. A 2016 survey by the Annenberg Public Policy Center found that only 26 percent of Americans can name all three branches of government, a significant decline from previous years. And that's just one part of a host of basics that any good citizen should know.

Without an understanding of the structure of government, our rights and responsibilities, and the different methods of public engagement, civic literacy will continue to plague our nation. Schools have a responsibility to ensure that young people become knowledgeable citizens. The increased focus on math and reading in K–12 education, while important, shouldn’t push out civics and other important subjects.

And while we're at it, how about more history, which should go hand-in-hand with civics. An educated public is the best way to ensure our future.

The next Gulf Power Symposium will be held in February 2020, again at Sandestin.

ST Engineering has been given approval by regulators in the United States to acquire GE Aviation’s nacelle unit. The Singapore group is acquiring Middle River Aircraft Systems (MRAS) in a deal worth an estimated net price of $440 million.

ST Engineering’s U.S. subsidiary, Vision Technologies Aerospace, is acquiring all the shares of Baltimore, Md.-based MRAS, the sole supplier of certain nacelle equipment for GE engines powering the Airbus A330, Boeing 747-8, 767, Comac ARJ21 and Embraer 190.

It specializes in the development, production and aftermarket support of nacelles, thrust reversers and aerostructures and employs around 800 staff. ST Engineering has maintenance, repair and overhaul operations in Mobile, Ala., and Pensacola, Fla. (Post)

Pratt and Whitney Engines, East Hartford, Conn., was awarded a $201.9 million modification to the previously awarded advance acquisition contract. This modification provides for long-lead materials, parts, and components for Lot 14 F135 Propulsion systems for the F-35 Lightning II Joint Strike Fighter aircraft in support of the Air Force, Marine Corps, Navy, non-U.S. Department of Defense (non-U.S. DoD) participants; and Foreign Military Sales (FMS) customers. Work will be performed in East Hartford; Indianapolis, Ind.; and Bristol, United Kingdom, and is expected to be completed in April 2022. 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. … The Boeing Co., St. Louis, Mo., was awarded a $65 million contract for Small Diameter Bomb Increment I miniature munitions. This contract provides for integration, sustainment and support of the Small Diameter Bomb Increment I miniature munition and carriage system on various Foreign Military Sales aircraft platforms. This support includes all testing, engineering, management, technical, and logistical activities associated with Small Diameter Bomb Increment I weapon system with various aircraft and associated systems. Work will be performed in St. Louis, various Air Force test ranges, and in each respective country. Work is expected to be complete by April 15, 2029. Air Force Life Cycle Management Center, Eglin Air Force Base, Fla., is the contracting activity. … Raytheon Missile Systems Co., Tucson, Ariz., was awarded a $19.1 million modification to a previously awarded contract for Advanced Medium Range Air-to-Air Missile (AMRAAM) production program. This modification provides for upgrade and commonality of AMRAAM production test equipment being produced and utilized
under the basic contract. Work will be performed in Tucson and is expected to be complete by April 15, 2022. Air Force Life Cycle Management Center, Eglin Air Force Base, Fla., is the contracting activity.

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