Saturday, May 11, 2019

Week in review (5/5 to 5/11)

Facing a need for a lot more workers in the coming years, Airbus during the week announced the launch of two new programs designed to employ applicants with little-to-no previous aerospace experience.

The programs, FlightPath9 and Fast Track, are intended to train candidates to become workers on the company's A320 and A220 jetliner assembly lines in Mobile. FlightPath9 is a nine-month program for high school seniors. It will be run by Flight Works Alabama, which has partnered with Airbus, Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University, Cintas, Snap-On Tools, Southwest Alabama Partnership for Training and Employment, and the National Coalition of Certification Centers.

Students will attend training after school during their senior year. Upon graduation, students who complete the program can start their career with Airbus through the second program, Fast Track.

Fast Track is a 12 to 15-week program for people with no aviation experience. It provides them with the skills needed for a career in aerospace maintenance. "When they come out of that training, the employee graduates to on-the-job training on A220 an A320 aircraft," said Daryl Taylor, vice president and general manager of the A320 manufacturing facility in Mobile.

Fast Track, while targeting Mobile-area residents, can be attended by others from the region. The announcement was attended by Gov. Kay Ivey, who congratulated each of the first class of 25 students who signed up for FlightPath9.

Airbus, which already has its A320 line up and running, is expanding that line and building a second assembly line for A220s, and expects to need 600 to 700 new workers in the next few years. (Post)

The Mobile-Pensacola portion of the aerospace corridor will be adding a lot of aviation jobs in the near future. In addition to the 600-700 in Mobile, some 60 miles to the east in Pensacola, Fla., there will be a need for 1,200 maintenance, repair and overhaul workers at the ST Engineering campus at Pensacola International Airport.

Eglin Air Force Base, Fla., is the preferred alternative to receive an additional F-35A training squadron. Eglin was the location of the F-35 initial joint training site hosting Air Force, Navy and Marine Corps F-35s, but the Marine Corps relocated its F-35Bs in 2014 and the Navy announced its plans to relocate F-35Cs in 2019.

“By basing the next F-35A training squadron at Eglin Air Force Base, we are taking advantage of existing facilities and training air space,” said Secretary of the Air Force Heather Wilson.

Additional F-35As are expected to begin arriving in the fall of 2021. The new squadron is expected to reach full operational capability by spring 2023. Eglin will only receive the additional F-35 training unit if the F-22 Raptor formal training unit temporarily operating at Eglin is permanently moved to Joint Base Langley-Eustis, Va.

In March, the Air Force acknowledged plans to move the F-22 training unit to JB Langley-Eustis, pending the outcome of the National Environmental Policy Act and other regulatory and planning processes. This F-35 basing action is also dependent on completing the environmental analysis. (Post)

Eglin got the F-22 training unit after Tyndall Air Force Base, to the east of Eglin near Panama City, was hit hard by Hurricane Michael. The base is being rebuilt, and now Tyndall is being recommended by the Air Force to receive up to three operational F-35 squadrons. If approved and funded by Congress, the squadrons would arrive in 2023.

Two Louisiana airports, Baton Rouge Metropolitan Airport and Lafayette Regional Airport, were awarded $15 million and $10.5 million grants, respectively, by the Federal Aviation Administration.

Lafayette will use the money from the FAA’s Airport Improvement Program for taxiway improvement projects. The Lafayette airport is undergoing an $80 million construction project to build a new terminal. The project is expected to be completed by the end of 2021. In Baton Rouge, the funding will be used for runway, safety, and other development projects included in the airport’s master plan. (Post)

United Technologies Corp., Pratt & Whitney Engines, East Hartford, Conn., was awarded a $55.7 million modification to a previously awarded contract. This modification provides additional funding for F135 long lead items to support the production delivery schedule, exercises an option for additional initial spare parts, and provides program administrative labor for the global spares pool in support of the Navy; Air Force, and Marine Corps, non-U. S. Department of Defense (DoD) participants and Foreign Military Sales (FMS) customers. Work will be performed in East Hartford (67 percent); Indianapolis, Ind. (26.5 percent); and Bristol, United Kingdom (6.5 percent), 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.

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