Saturday, August 31, 2019

Week in review (8/25 to 8/31)

Completion of the engine section of the Space Launch System, funding for an airport runway improvement project and the election of an airport executive to a statewide council highlighted the aerospace news for the Gulf Coast during the week.

Here is your week in review:

NASA and Boeing formally signed off on the first assembly of the most complicated element of the space agency’s Space Launch System (SLS) rocket. After a review of data from two months of functional testing at the Michoud Assembly Facility (MAF) in New Orleans, the engine section element of the first SLS Core Stage is complete and is now cleared to be mated to the rest of the vehicle.

The next step is to move the engine section and boattail to another building, rotate them from vertical to horizontal, and then come back for bolting to the aft end of the stage in the last “major join” in its assembly.

Boeing continues to aim to complete the full stage in December and barge it to the Stennis Space Center, Miss., for a full, integrated checkout and acceptance firing as part of the Green Run test. (Post)

The Mississippi Department of Environmental Quality was awarded a grant of $6.7 million for the Trent Lott International Runway Improvements project. MDEQ will subaward the project to the Jackson County Airport Authority to support engineering and design, surveying, permitting, and construction.

The improvements will allow the airport in Moss Point, Miss., to accommodate medium and large cargo planes used by local industries.

"Trent Lott International Airport already is home to world class manufacturing at Northrop Grumman’s manned and unmanned systems facility," said George Freeland, executive director of the Jackson County Economic Development Foundation, "but Jackson County remains focused on strategic improvements that position this community for continued growth in the aviation sector.” (Post)

-- In Panama City, Fla., Parker McClellan Jr., Executive Director of Northwest Florida Beaches International Airport (ECP), has been elected Chairman of the Florida Airports Council (FAC) – the official association of the publicly-owned and operated airports in Florida – effective October 1, 2019.

McClellan will be transitioning from his previous position on the Executive Committee of the Board of Directors as Vice Chairman and will serve as Chairman for one year.

The Council is composed of members representing all 20 Florida commercial service airports and 79 of the state’s general aviation airports, one Spaceport (Cecil Airport) and more than 250 corporate, educational, affiliate, student chapters and student members. McClellan will continue in his role at ECP. (Post)

Lockheed Martin Aeronautics Co., Fort Worth, Texas, was awarded a $25.3 million modification to a previously awarded contract. This modification is for an F-35 Lightning II Joint Strike Fighter regional maintenance repair and upgrade facility for the Government of Japan under the Foreign Military Sales (FMS) program. Work will be performed in Nagoya, Japan (65%); Ft Worth, Texas (26%); Greenville, S.C. (7%); Orlando, Fla. (2%); and El Segundo, Calif. (1%), and is expected to be completed no later than September 2022. The Naval Air Systems Command, Patuxent River, Md., is the contracting activity. … PAE Aviation and Technical Services LLC, Marlton, N.J., was awarded a $19.2 million modification to previously awarded contract for the Aerial Targets Program. The contract modification provides for the exercise of an option for an additional year of service under the multiple year contract, which directly supports live-fire weapons system testing and enables the 53rd Weapons Evaluation Group to perform developmental and operational weapons testing for all air-to-air missiles for the F-15, F-16, F-22, and F-35 aircraft. Work will be performed at Tyndall Air Force Base, Fla.; and Holloman AFB, N.M., and is expected to be completed by Sept. 30, 2020. The Air Combat Command, Acquisition Management and Integration Center, Langley Air Force Base, Va., is the contracting activity. … PRIDE Industries, Roseville, Calif., was awarded a $17.4 million contract modification for base operation support. Work will be performed in Fort Rucker, Ala., with an estimated completion date of Aug. 31, 2023. U.S. Army Mission and Installation Contracting Command, Fort Rucker, is the contracting activity.

Saturday, August 24, 2019

Week in review (8/18 to 8/24)

An increase in production of Global Hawks and Tritons, the ranking of firms to oversee the expansion of Pensacola’s MRO campus, a milestone in deliveries of Lakota helicopters and the selection of a launch vehicle for the Dream Chaser highlighted aerospace news for the Gulf Coast region during the week.

Here’s your week in review:

Economic development
A Pensacola, Fla., city selection committee ranked four firms that could oversee building the $210 million expansion of the ST Engineering maintenance, repair and overhaul campus at Pensacola International Airport.

The No. 1 company was Birmingham, Ala.-based Brasfield and Gorrie partnering with local Greenhut Construction Co. Greenhut was the construction manager on the first $46 million ST Engineering hangar that opened in 2018.

The company selected will build the next aircraft maintenance hangar, Hangar 2, but the same company could be in charge of the entire project if everything goes well on during construction of Hangar 2. (Post)

Northrop Grumman plans to more than double production capacity for the RQ-4 Global Hawk and MQ-4C Triton unmanned air vehicles to 12 aircraft per year in anticipation of growing demand for the intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance platform.

The manufacturer is adding production capacity to its Site 7 facilities in Palmdale, Calif. It will start production out of a recently remodeled building the week of Aug. 26. The building is on the grounds of United States Air Force Plant 42 and was previously a manufacturing facility for the Northrop F-5 fighter.

Northrop Grumman has lined up six customers for variants of its high altitude long endurance UAV: The U.S. Navy, U.S. Air Force, NATO, South Korea, Japan and the Royal Australian Air Force.

The company previously produced between three to five RQ-4 Global Hawk or MQ-4C Triton aircraft per year. Typically it takes 162 to 174 days to build the UAV: 150 days to build the fuselage in Moss Point, Miss. and 12 to 24 days for final assembly in Palmdale, the firm says. (Post)

Airbus Helicopters delivered on Aug. 19 the 200th UH-72A Lakota for training with the Army Aviation Center of Excellence at Fort Rucker, Ala. Airbus Helicopters of Columbus, Miss., has built more than 550 aircraft for the U.S. government since 2006.

The UH-72A Lakota is a derivative of the EC145 twin-engine rotorcraft, and is operated by U.S. Navy, U.S. Army and other various military units worldwide. To date, the Lakota fleet has amassed more than 600,000 flight hours. (Post)

Sierra Nevada Corp. (SNC) has selected United Launch Alliance (ULA) as the launch vehicle provider for the Dream Chaser spacecraft's six NASA missions to the International Space Station. Dream Chaser will launch aboard ULA's Vulcan Centaur rockets for its cargo resupply and return services to the space station, starting in 2021.

Under NASA's Commercial Resupply Services 2 (CRS-2) contract, the Dream Chaser will deliver more than 12,000 pounds of pressurized and unpressurized cargo to the space station and remain attached for up to 75 days as an orbiting laboratory.

Once the mated mission is complete, the Dream Chaser disposes about 7,000 pounds of space station trash and returns large quantities of critical science, accessible within minutes after a gentle runway landing.

Vulcan Centaur is a new class of space launch vehicle with the performance of a heavy launch vehicle in just a single core.

ULA in 2018 chose Blue Origin's BE-4 engine to power Vulcan. In 2014 ULA announced it was partnering with Blue Origin to partially fund the BE-4 development. BE-4 components have been tested at Stennis Space Center, Miss., and some of the Dream Chaser work has been done at Michoud Assembly Facility in New Orleans. (Post)

Two Blue Angel jets touched mid-air during a recent practice at Naval Air Station Pensacola, Fla. According to the Navy, the No. 3 canopy made momentary contact with the underside of No. 1's outer wing during the Diamond 360 maneuver.

There were no injuries. An initial damage assessment of the aircraft found a "minimal scratch" on the No. 3 canopy. (Post)

Lockheed Martin Aeronautics Co., Fort Worth, Texas, was awarded three contracts related to the F-35 during the week. It was awarded a $2.4 billion modification to a previously awarded contract for F-35 initial spares for the Marine Corps, Navy, Air Force, non-U.S. Department of Defense (DoD) participants, and Foreign Military Sales (FMS) customers. Work will be performed in Texas, California, New York, New Hampshire, Florida, Iowa, Arizona, Connecticut, Maryland, Illinois, Georgia, the United Kingdom, and The Netherlands. It also was awarded a $32.1 million modification to a delivery order under a previously issued against basic ordering agreement. This award procures modification kits and special tooling for modification and retrofit of delivered F-35 for the Air Force, Marine Corps, Navy, non-Department of Defense (DoD) participants and Foreign Military Sales (FMS) customers. Work will be performed in Fort Worth and is expected to be completed in June 2025. In the third contract, Lockheed was awarded a $12 million modification to a delivery order under a previously issued against basic ordering agreement. This award procures modification kits for modification and retrofit of delivered F-35 for the Air Force and Marine Corps. Work will be performed in Fort Worth and is expected to be completed in December 2021. The Naval Air Systems Command, Patuxent River, Md., is the contracting activity for all three Lockheed contracts. … BAE Systems Information and Electronic Systems, Nashua, N.H., was awarded a $75 million contract to procure 1,440 Radio Frequency Countermeasures and the maintenance and repair of multi-function test stations in support of the F-35 aircraft. Work will be performed in New Hampshire, Pennsylvania, Massachusetts, California, and New Jersey. The Naval Air Systems Command, Patuxent River, Md., is the contracting activity. … Sikorsky Aircraft Corp., a Lockheed Martin Co., Stratford, Conn., was awarded $48.3 million order against a previously issued basic ordering agreement to procure spare parts to repair and maintain CH-53K low-rate initial production Lot Three configuration aircraft. Fort Walton Beach, Fla. will do 2.32% of the work. Other work sites are in Quebec, Canada, Connecticut, New York, West Virginia, Missouri, Ohio, Iowa, United Kingdom and other locations. The Naval Air Systems Command, Patuxent River, Md., is the contracting activity.

Saturday, August 17, 2019

Week in review (8/11 to 8/17)

The August issue of the Gulf Coast Aerospace Corridor Newsletter published Friday with a cover story about the growth of the Interstate 10’s space activities along the Louisiana-Mississippi border. It focuses on Relativity Space’s decision to build rockets at Stennis Space Center in Mississippi.

We also have a story on how Airbus is building its first A220 in Mobile before the completion of the A220 final assembly line. There’s also a wrap-up about some of the other key news items during the past couple of months – notably a piece on the ups and downs of a major project. In this case, the building of a maintenance, repair and overhaul campus in Pensacola.

If you’re on our subscriber list, the newsletter PDF was sent to your inbox. Non-subscribers can go to our website and download the newsletter. It’s free of charge to readers thanks to our underwriters.

Now for your week in review:

NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstine was in New Orleans Thursday to visit Michoud Assembly Facility (MAF), where the core stage of the Space Launch System (SLS) is built. He said the 2024 mission to the moon is to test the moon’s resources.

Bridenstine said 90 percent of the project is complete. During a meeting with the media, Bridenstine stood in front of the center piece of the rocket, the core stage. Crews are preparing to add the final section before moving the rocket to Mississippi, according to WVUE in New Orleans.

The first SLS launch is the Artemis 1 mission, an uncrewed test flight of the rocket and an Orion capsule. Assembly of the core stage, the largest and most complex stage NASA ever has built, remains on schedule for completion before the end of the year. Comprised of two liquid propellant tanks and four RS-25 engines, it will produce more than two million pounds of thrust. (Post)

Battelle, a nonprofit research and development organization, will conduct laboratory and field tests of firefighting foam at the Air Force Civil Engineering Center on Tyndall Air Force Base, Fla.

Firefighting foam used by the military contained PFAS, chemicals that have “since been linked to health issues like cancer,” a news release stated. PFAS use has since been phased out. Available foams could be modified to meet military standards, according to the release.

Battelle was awarded a contract as part of the Environmental Security Technology Certification Program. The project is part of the environmental research initiative by the Department of Defense. Battelle also will work with the Navy and Army to determine if the foams meet military specifications. (Post)

Lord & Son Construction Inc., Fort Walton Beach, Fla., was awarded a $32.1 million contract for construction of a Long-Range Stand-Off Acquisition Facility on Eglin Air Force Base, Fla. Work will be performed in Eglin Air Force Base with an estimated completion date of Aug. 14, 2021. U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, Mobile, Ala., is the contracting activity. … Lockheed Martin Corp., Orlando, Fla., has been awarded a $99 million contract for Joint Air-to-Surface Standoff Missile (JASSM) foreign military sales production support. This contract will provide for lifecycle support for all efforts related to JASSM and any JASSM variants in the areas of system upgrades, integration, production, sustainment, management and logistical support. Work will be performed at Orlando and is expected to be completed by August 2024. The Air Force Life Cycle Management Center, Eglin Air Force Base, Fla., is the contracting activity.

Saturday, August 10, 2019

Week in review (8/4 to 8/10)

The August issue of the Gulf Coast Aerospace Corridor Newsletter will publish next week. We’ll tell you why Relativity Space’s decision to build rockets at Stennis Space Center in Mississippi is so important to the region.

We also have a story on how Airbus is building its first A220 in Mobile before the completion of the A220 final assembly line.

If you’re on our subscriber list, the newsletter PDF will be sent to your inbox. But non-subscribers can go to our website next week to download the newsletter. It’s free of charge to readers thanks to our underwriters.

Now for your week in review:

Airbus has officially started manufacturing the A220 in the United States.

The first team of A220 production workers began work at the Mobile, Ala.-based production facility after returning from on-the-job training in Mirabel, Quebec, Canada. That’s where the A220 program and primary final assembly line are located.

Airbus is producing the first few aircraft within some current A320 aircraft buildings and newly-built support hangars.

The first U.S.-made A220, a jetliner that will go to Delta Air Lines, is scheduled for delivery in the third quarter of 2020. By the middle of next decade, the facility will produce between 40 and 50 A220 aircraft per year.

Airbus announced plans for the addition of A220 manufacturing in Mobile in October 2017. Construction on the main A220 flowline hangar and other support buildings for the new A220 began at the Mobile Aeroplex at Brookley at the beginning of this year. (Post)

U.S. Navy Cmdr. Wesley Barnes relieved U.S. Coast Guard Capt. Mark Jackson as the 56th commanding officer of Training Squadron Two (VT-2) in a unique ceremony onboard Naval Air Station Whiting Field Friday.

In the aerial change of command flying the T-6B Texan aircraft, Jackson handed the squadron over the aircraft radio to Barnes. Three aircraft, one with Barnes and a second pilot, one with Jackson and another pilot, and one aircraft with the deputy commodore of Training Air Wing Five (TW-5), Col. Jeffrey Pavelko, who acted as the officiating officer, flew in a three-ship formation.

After landing the T-6B aircraft, the officers completed the ceremony in a hangar on the installation with commodore, TW-5, Capt. Doug Rosa presiding. More than a hundred people attended the ceremony. Rosa presented Jackson with a meritorious service medal for his accomplishments leading the squadron. (Post)

ZITEC Inc., Niceville, Fla., was awarded a $25.1 million contract to provide up to 672 alternate mission equipment mobility ready storage systems; two first article units, and 670 production systems for the Navy and Marine Corps. Work will be performed in Niceville and is expected to be completed in August 2025. The Naval Air Warfare Center, Aircraft Division, Lakehurst, N.J., is the contracting activity.

Saturday, August 3, 2019

Week in review (7/28 to 8/3)

Somebody needs to tell President Trump that when a company buys from Airbus, it means jobs for American workers. That’s because the company not only builds aircraft in the United States – and employs American workers – but also buys from U.S. suppliers, where other Americans work.

NBC News has reported that Trump, during a meeting with airline officials during the week, scolded U.S.-based Delta Air Lines for buying billions of dollars worth of planes from Europe-based Airbus. He pointed out that Qatar Airways is buying jets from Chicago-based Boeing.

The comment raised eyebrows, since Airbus has an A320 assembly line in Mobile, Ala., and is building a second assembly line for A220 passenger jets. Planes built in Mobile have been delivered to Delta and other U.S.-based airliners. But that’s not the only reason the president's comment caused some to scratch their heads. Delta also buys from Boeing, and has the largest Boeing fleet in the world.

In response to requests from the Mobile media, Airbus in a statement said "We are proud to have Airbus aircraft flying for 13 U.S. airlines, and to manufacture many of those aircraft in Mobile, Ala., where work continues on our second large aircraft assembly line. With our hundreds of U.S. suppliers accounting for 40 percent of all Airbus’ aircraft-related procurement, every customer who invests in Airbus is investing in U.S. manufacturing and supporting American jobs."

Meanwhile, Airbus is continuing its push to hire workers for the new A220 plant. Airbus recently held job fairs in North Carolina. The company is reaching out into hubs for aviation professionals and technical professionals. (Post)

That’s the problem when you think in terms of buy American. The devil is in the details. The aerospace industry - like the automotive industry - is global, and while headquarters may be in one country, the reach of that company is so much greater.

After considering canceling a planned full-duration test-firing of the Space Launch System (SLS) core stage in Mississippi ahead of the heavy-lift rocket’s first flight, NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstine said the agency will press ahead with the eight-minute test next year.

He cited safety and reliability benefits for future astronauts riding on the launcher on missions to the moon.

The first SLS test flight, carrying an unpiloted Orion crew capsule to lunar orbit, is set for blastoff in 2021 from pad 39B at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida. The mission is designated Artemis 1, the first flight in NASA’s Artemis program to return astronauts to the moon as a stepping stone toward eventual expeditions to Mars.

NASA has planned the so-called “green run” test of the SLS core stage since the program’s start in 2011. For more than half a decade, workers at NASA’s Stennis Space Center (SSC) in southern Mississippi have modified and outfitted the B-2 test stand — previously used for Saturn V, space shuttle and Delta IV rocket testing — to accommodate the 212-foot-tall, 27.6-foot-wide SLS core stage.

Liquid hydrogen and liquid oxygen tanks inside the SLS core stage will hold 733,000 gallons of propellant to feed four RS-25 main engines, generating more than 2 million pounds of thrust at full throttle. The RS-25 engines, supplied by Aerojet Rocketdyne, are left over powerplants from the space shuttle program.

Unlike full-stage firings of previous rockets, the green run test at Stennis will use the same core stage that will fly on the first SLS launch, and not a ground test article. Once the core stage is finished at Michoud Assembly Facility, a NASA barge will haul the rocket from New Orleans to SSC for installation on the B-2 test stand. The shipment of the core stage to Stennis is scheduled around the end of the year. (Post)

Test pilots from the 413th Flight Test Squadron at Duke Field, Fla., became the first Air Force pilots to receive a Type rating on the AW-139 helicopter on July 29. Majors Zach Roycroft and Tony Arrington completed the five-week contracted course in New Jersey on the civilian counterpart to the service's new MH-139 helicopter. The aircraft is to replace the UH-1N Huey.

A Type rating is an FAA qualification for a specific aircraft. As test pilots were training, the 413th FLTS and Air Force Global Strike Command airmen were completing the maintenance technician course on the aircraft.

The MH-139 delivery marks the first, in recent history, that the Air Force will receive a rotary wing asset not previously used by another branch of the military. The service plans to buy 84 MH-139 helicopters over the next decade. The first aircraft delivery to Duke Field is scheduled for late November. (Post)

-- Two Air Force Special Operations Command airmen from Hurlburt Field, Fla., were recognized for receiving the 2017 Cheney Award on June 13. Now-Lt. Col. Matthew Mills and Master Sgt. Michael Wilson displayed extraordinary heroism while providing humanitarian relief after Hurricane Maria left a path of devastation on the island of Dominica in September 2017.

Mills served as an MC-130H Combat Talon II aircraft commander and Wilson served as the aircraft loadmaster. Both were assigned to the 15th Special Operations Squadron at the time of the actions.

The Cheney Award is an aviation award presented to an airman for an act of valor, extreme fortitude or self-sacrifice in a humanitarian interest, performed in connection with an aircraft, but not necessarily of a military nature. (Post)

South Alabama Regional Airport Authority, Andalusia, Ala., was awarded a minimum $11.5 million contract for fuel. This was a competitive acquisition with 148 responses received. This is a 44-month contract with one six-month option period. Location of performance is Alabama, with a March 31, 2023, performance completion date. Using customers are Army, Navy, Air Force, Marine Corps and federal civilian agencies. The contracting activity is the Defense Logistics Agency Energy, Fort Belvoir, Va.