Monday, July 30, 2012

Navy tests X-47B

X-47B at Pax River. U.S. Navy photo
PATUXENT RIVER, Md. -- The Navy conducted its first test of the X-47B Unmanned Combat Air System demonstrator. The tailless, unmanned aircraft built by Northrop Grumman launched from Pax River and flew for 35 minutes, reaching an altitude of 7,500 feet and an air speed of 180 knots. One of the testing facilities at Pax River is a simulated aircraft carrier environment, which will allow team members to ensure the aircraft is ready to operate in testing at sea. Land-based testing will establish X-47B has the ability to conduct precision approaches and to perform arrested landings and catapult launches prior to actual aircraft carrier operations. (Source: NNS, 07/29/12) Gulf Coast note: Northrop Grumman does some of the work on Fire Scout and Global Hawk unmanned systems in Moss Point, Miss.

Contract: L-3 Vertex, $9.9M

L-3 Communications Vertex Aerospace LLC., Madison, Miss., is being awarded a $9,931,132 firm-fixed-price, indefinite-delivery requirements contract for the Aircraft Intermediate Maintenance Department support for Chief of Naval Air Training aircraft, transient aircraft, and other services activities at the Naval Air Station Pensacola, Fla., and NAS Corpus Christi, Texas. Work will be performed in Pensacola (60 percent) and Corpus Christi 40 percent), and is expected to be completed in September 2017. The Naval Air Systems Command, Patuxent River, Md., is the contracting activity. (Source: DoD, 07/30/12)

787 engine issues

Rolls-Royce and GE engines used in Boeing's 787 have caused some issues for the new aircraft. On Saturday, debris shot from the back of a GEnx engine during a ground test at the Charleston (S.C.) airport. The incident is being investigated. In an earlier incident, All Nippon Airways temporary grounded five 787s due to gearbox corrosion in the Rolls Royce Trent 1000 engines. Rolls-Royce is replacing the gearbox units. (Sources: multiple, including HeraldnetSeattle Times, 07/29/12, Charleston Regional Business Journal, 07/30/12, Wall Street Journal, 07/23/12) Gulf Coast note: Rolls-Royce engines are tested at an outdoor facility at Stennis Space Center, Miss.; composite fan platforms and cases for the GEnx are made by GE Aviation in Batesville, Miss. Previous: Aeromexico orders Boeings; Airliner picks GEnx engines; Rolls-Royce wins orders; More orders for Rolls-Royce 

Saturn V engines eyed for rocket

HUNTSVILLE, Ala. -- Could the engines that powered Saturn V be used again for new NASA heavy-lift rocket? Dynetics Inc. of Huntsville thinks modified F-1 engines may be just right. It's negotiating a contract with NASA that could lead to construction of the biggest piece of rocket hardware in Huntsville since the Apollo program. NASA will use solid rocket boosters for the first flights of the 70-metric-ton Space Launch System. But it's letting industry compete over which boosters will be used on the 130-metric-ton version. Dynetics is teaming with Rocketdyne, which has three modified F-1 turbopumps in storage. Should the project go all the way through to engine manufacturing and testing, they will be tested at the Stennis Space Center, Miss. (Source: Huntsville Times, 07/29/12) Rocketdyne has an operation at SSC. Related: Historic engines to be recovered?

Developer's plans hit snag

PENSACOLA, Fla. – Plans to lease 104 acres of Saufley Field to a private developer have stalled because of the cost of moving several Saufley commands to Naval Air Station Pensacola, some 10 miles away. The Department of Defense's Enhanced Use Leasing program is designed to produce civilian jobs and provide revenue from under-utilized military land. Saufley is used for Navy education and training support programs, and its runways are used for flight training. The private developer, DCK Worldwide of Pittsburg, envisions a research/commercial park at Saufley. (Source: Pensacola News Journal, 07/29/12) Similar: Hotel on AF land raises issues; AF to become landlord

Saturday, July 28, 2012

School board OKs aviation center

BAY MINETTE, Ala. -- The Baldwin County Board of Education approved a resolution to take part in creation of an aviation training center for public high school students at Fairhope airport. The board will pay the annual cost of the bond to build the $2 million facility at the Sonny Callahan Airport, about $144,000 a year. The facility will provide technical training to prepare students for jobs in the aviation industry, such as those expected to be produced when Airbus begins building A320 aircraft at Mobile’s Brookley Aeroplex. Enterprise Community College and Faulkner State Community College will provide instructors. Training will begin in August 2013. (Source: Mobile Press-Register, 07/28/12)

SSC tests lander engine

Morpheus lander engine tested at SSC
NASA/JSC photo
STENNIS SPACE CENTER, Miss. -- NASA engineers recently conducted tests on a liquid methane, liquid oxygen engine used to power the Project Morpheus lander, which could one day carry cargo to the moon, asteroids or Mars. The tests on SSC's E-3 Test Stand over several days marked the first time the Morpheus engine has been tested on its own. Previous tests were done with the engine installed on the lander. Morpheus could carry a variety of payloads, including robots, small rovers and labs, to the moon or other celestial bodies. Morpheus, a NASA-designed vehicle, is one of 20 small projects comprising NASA's Advanced Exploration Systems Program. Morpheus is a full spacecraft with all the associated subsystems. The lander has been undergoing tether tests at NASA's Johnson Space Center in Houston, where it was built. Free flight testing is scheduled this year at Kennedy Space Center, Fla. (Source: NASA, 07/26/12)

Friday, July 27, 2012

UT finalizes Goodrich deal

HARTFORD, Conn. -- United Technologies Corp. has completed its $18.4 billion acquisition of Charlotte, N.C.-based Goodrich Corp. To satisfy antitrust concerns, United Technologies must sell several units, including Goodrich's engine control systems unit, and Goodrich's shares of Aero Engine Controls, an aircraft turbine manufacturing joint venture with Rolls-Royce. Goodrich will be combined with Hamilton Sundstrand to create the new UTC Aerospace Systems business unit, headquartered in Charlotte. (Source: PRNewswire, 07/26/12, Charlotte Observer, 07/27/12) Gulf Coast note: Goodrich operates a center in Foley, Ala. Previous

Thursday, July 26, 2012

Contract: Army Fleet Support, $1.9B

Army Fleet Support, Fort Rucker, Ala., was awarded a $1,979,297,394 cost-plus-incentive-fee contract to provide aviation maintenance services. Work will be performed in Fort Rucker, with an estimated completion date of Sept. 30, 2017. The bid was solicited through the Internet, with five bids received. The U.S. Army Contracting Command, Redstone Arsenal, Ala., is the contracting activity. (Source: DoD, 07/26/12)

Seeking propulsions 'Holy Grail'

HUNTSVILLE, Ala. -- Scientists here are working on a project that has the potential to revolutionize space travel: a thermonuclear propulsion system. Researchers from the University of Alabama in Huntsville, NASA's Marshall Space Flight Center and Boeing are assembling in the Aerophysics Research Center at Redstone Arsenal a huge piece of machinery that in a past life tested nuclear weapons effects. "Charger-1 Pulsed Power Generator" will be one of the largest and most powerful pulse power systems in the academic world, according to university officials. Scientists consider nuclear fusion the "Holy Grail" of spacecraft propulsion. As envisioned, multiple launch vehicles would put the required components into orbit, where the spacecraft would be assembled and a pulsed fusion engine would launch the spacecraft from high Earth orbit. Nuclear fusion propulsion, an idea that's been around for a long time, would cut fuel needed to a few tons instead of thousands of tons. (Source: University of Alabama in Huntsville, 07/25/2012) Gulf Coast note: NASA and commercial companies test propulsion systems at Stennis Space Center, Miss., which works closely with Marshall Space Flight Center.

Kiplinger: Eglin at risk

Is Eglin Air Force Base, Fla., at risk of being closed in any new round of base closings? That's what a recent Kiplinger Report says. The report, which cited unnamed sources on Capitol Hill and others, lists Eglin along with eight other bases. The report said Eglin's work could be transferred to bases in the Northwest. But it shouldn't be taken seriously, according to Rep. Jeff Miller, R-Fla. He points out that Congress has no appetite for another base closing round. David Goestch, chairman of the Florida Defense Support Task Force, also discounts the assessment of the risk to Eglin, which received additional missions from the last base closing round. (Source: Northwest Florida Daily News, 07/25/12)

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

SLS passes major review

NASA illustration
WASHINGTON -- NASA's Space Launch System, which will launch humans farther into space than ever before, passed a major NASA review Wednesday with completion of a combined System Requirements Review and System Definition Review. SLS now moves ahead to its preliminary design phase. The SLS will launch NASA's Orion spacecraft and other payloads, and provide a new capability for human exploration beyond low Earth orbit. NASA's Marshall Space Flight Center in Huntsville, Ala., manages the SLS program. The RS-25 core stage and J-2X upper-stage rocket engine in development by Rocketdyne for the two-stage SLS will be tested at NASA's Stennis Space Center, Miss. Testing has already begun on the J-2X. The Boeing Co. in Huntsville is designing the SLS core stage, to be built at NASA's Michoud Assembly Facility in New Orleans and tested at Stennis Space Center before being shipped to Kennedy Space Center, Fla. (Sources: NASAPRNewswire, 07/25/12) Previous

Aeromexico orders Boeings

Aeromexico placed a provisional order for 90 Boeing 737 MAX jets and 10 Boeing 787s worth $11 billion. Each 787 will use two GE Aviation GEnx engines, and each MAX aircraft will be powered by two LEAP engines made by CFM International, GE Aviation's joint venture with France's Safran. The estimated total list price for the engine orders is $2.65 billion. (Sources: AP, Reuters, ATW Daily News, Dayton Business Journal, 07/25/12) Gulf Coast note: Composite fan platforms and cases for the GEnx are made by GE Aviation in Batesville, Miss., and turbine ignitions components, sensors and harnesses for the GEnx are made in Jacksonville, Fla. GE Aviation is building engine parts facilities near Hattiesburg, Miss., and Auburn, Ala.; Airbus is building an assembly line for A320s, which compete with the 737, in Mobile, Ala.; GE Aviation competes with Rolls-Royce to power the 787. Rolls-Royce airliner engines are tested at its outdoor facility at Stennis Space Center, Miss.

J-2X powerpack sets new mark

J-2X powerpack test Tuesday at SSC
NASA/SSC photo
STENNIS SPACE CENTER, Miss. -- A J-2X powerpack was test fired Tuesday for 1,350 seconds on the A-1 test stand, surpassing the 1,150-second firing of June 8. The powerpack sits atop the J-2X engine and feeds the thrust chamber, which produces the engine fire and thrust. The advantage of testing the powerpack without the thrust chamber is to operate over a wide range of conditions to understand safe limits. The test Tuesday gathered data on performance of the liquid oxygen and fuel pumps during extreme conditions. The Rocketdyne J-2X engine will power the upper-stage of a planned two-stage Space Launch System, which will launch NASA's Orion spacecraft and other payloads for missions beyond low Earth orbit. (Source: NASA, 07/24/12) Previous: J-2X goes the distance; Powerpack test sets record

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

F-22 restrictions being lifted

The Air Force has identified the cause of hypoxia-like symptoms a dozen F-22 pilots suffered, and flight restrictions gradually will be lifted. The Air Force ruled out contaminants as the cause, and made two changes to solve the hypoxia problem. The first was to order pilots not to wear the pressure garment vest during high-altitude missions. The vest inflates to stop blood from pooling, which would cause pilots to black out during high-speed turns. The Air Force found that a faulty valve caused the vest to inflate and remain inflated under conditions where it was not designed to inflate. The Air Force also removed a canister filter from the oxygen delivery system, increasing the volume of air flowing to pilots. (Source: American Forces Press Service, Reuters, 07/24/12) Gulf Coast note: F-22 pilots are trained at Tyndall Air Force Base, Fla.

AF to discuss F-35 bunker buster

EGLIN AIR FORCE BASE, Fla. -- Air Force weapons experts will brief industry Oct. 4, 2012 on the progress and future needs of a program to develop a rocket-propelled bomb for the F-35 that can attack and destroy deeply buried targets. The focus will be on the Air Force High Velocity Penetrating Weapon Flagship Capability Concept (HVPW FCC) program, and future needs for bunker-busting munition guidance, navigation and control; propulsion; explosives; and systems integration. The HVPW FCC program seeks to develop a 2,000-pound weapon with solid-rocket propulsion with the power of a 5,000-pound gravity bomb. (Source: Avionics Intelligence, 07/24/12)

Airport eyes opportunities

ST. ELMO, Ala. -- Supporters of St. Elmo Airport hope to market the 738-acre general aviation airport as a job creator for the south-Mobile County community. The airport some 18 miles from Brookley Aeroplex is state-owned and has 20 hangars and a 4,000-foot landing strip. John Eagerton, bureau chief for the Alabama Department of Transportation's Aeronautics Bureau, said the state has been positioning the airport take advantage of opportunities such as Airbus' decision to locate an assembly line at Brookley. (Source: Mobile Press-Register, 07/24/12)

Monday, July 23, 2012

UK F-35 now at Eglin

UK F-35 leaves Texas
Lockheed Martin photo
EGLIN AIR FORCE BASE, Fla. – The first international F-35 arrived at Eglin Air Force Base this morning. It's now with the Marine Strike Fighter Training Squadron 501 at the 33rd Fighter Wing. ZM135, an F-35B piloted by Royal Air Force Squadron Leader Jim Schofield, took off from Naval Air Station Fort Worth Joint Reserve Base in Texas for the 90-minute flight to Eglin. The F-35B combines short take off and vertical landing technology with supersonic speed and stealth, and also will be flown by the U.S. Marine Corps. The F-35B pairs a Pratt and Whitney F135 engine and the Rolls-Royce LiftSystem. The UK was the first of eight international partners to join the F-35 program and plans to acquire the F-35B short takeoff and vertical landing aircraft. (Source: GCAC, 07/23/12) Lockheed Martin release; Previous

Rocketdyne being sold to GenCorp.

United Technologies reached an agreement to sell Rocketdyne, currently part of Pratt and Whitney, to aerospace manufacturer GenCorp Inc. for $550 million. Rocketdyne, based in Canoga Park, Calif., and the world's largest maker of liquid-fueled rocket propulsion systems, will nearly double GenCorp's size. GenCorp also ownes Aerojet, which produces solid-fuel rocket motors. Rocketdyne is one of three units UT put on the block in an effort to fund the manufacturer's $16.5 billion takeover of Goodrich Corp. of Charlotte, N.C. (Sources: PRNewswire, Reuters, 07/23/12) Gulf Coast note: Rocketdyne has an operation at Stennis Space Center, Miss., that assembles and tests rocket engines. Aerojet engines are tested at SSC; Goodrich has a service center in Foley, Ala.

Guard pilot gets turn with F-35

EGLIN AIR FORCE BASE, Fla. -- The Air National Guard took its first turn at the controls of an F-35 last week. Maj. Jay Spohn, the chief of standards and evaluation at the 33rd Operations Group, flew on July 16. He's one of two Guard pilots and two Reserve pilots in training with the 33rd Wing at Eglin. Spohn's first flight came five days after the 33rd Fighter Wing flew its 100th sortie. (Source: Air Force Times, 07/22/12) Previous

Saturday, July 21, 2012

Change of command at 43rd

TYNDALL AIR FORCE BASE, Fla. -- Lt. Col. R. Travis Koch took over command of the 43rd Fighter Squadron at Tyndall Air Force Base Friday. Koch takes over for Lt. Col. Bradley Bird, who will be leaving to attend the Eisenhower School in Washington, D.C. Koch is a command pilot with more than 2,000 flight hours, primarily in the F-15C and F-22. (Source: Panama City News Herald, 07/21/12)

Friday, July 20, 2012

UK accepts first F-35

UK's F-35. Lockheed Martin photo
FORT WORTH, Texas -- The United Kingdom accepted the first international F-35 in a ceremony with senior representatives of the U.K. Ministry of Defence and the U.S. Department of Defense. The U.K. was the first of eight international partners to join the F-35 program and plans to acquire the F-35B short takeoff and vertical landing aircraft. Lockheed Martin is developing the F-35 with its principal industrial partners, Northrop Grumman and BAE Systems. Three variants of the F-35 will replace the A-10 and F-16 for the U.S. Air Force, the F/A-18 for the U.S. Navy, the F/A-18 and AV8-B Harrier for the U.S. Marine Corps, and a variety of fighters for at least 10 other countries. (Source: Lockheed Martin, 07/19/20) Gulf Coast note: Eglin Air Force Base, Fla., is home of the F-35 training center.

SDB II finds, hits moving target

Raytheon's GBU-53/B Small Diameter Bomb II (SDB II) successfully engaged and hit a moving target during a flight test at the White Sands Missile Range, N.M. Currently in engineering and manufacturing development, SDB II is designed to engage moving targets in adverse weather and through battlefield obscurants. During a test Tuesday, the crew of an F-15E Strike Eagle operating from Holloman Air Force Base, N.M., released an SDB II, which then tracked and guided itself to a moving vehicle, scoring a direct hit. The Air Force runs the program from Eglin Air Force Base, Fla. "The excitement level here (at Raytheon) is only matched by the excitement level at Eglin," said John O'Brien, Raytheon's SDB II program director. (Sources: Raytheon via PRNewswire, 07/19/12, Arizona Daily Star, Military and Aerospace Electronics, 07/20/12)

Thursday, July 19, 2012

AAC is no more

EGLIN AIR FORCE BASE, Fla. – The Air Armament Center was formally deactivated during a ceremony Wednesday. Eglin Air Force Base's aerial weapons development missions now falls under the Air Force Life Cycle Management Center at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base in Ohio, and its test missions is now under the Air Force Test Center at Edwards Air Force Base, Calif. It's all part of a reorganization of the Air Force Materiel Command. Gen. Janet Wolfenbarger, commander of AFMC, affirmed that Eglin’s research, development, testing, and evaluation missions will remain at Eglin, and only the leadership structure changed. (Source: Northwest Florida Daily News, 07/18/12) Previous

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

RR flying test bed in Tucson

TUCSON, Ariz. -- A Rolls-Royce Boeing 747 "flying test bed" is at Tucson International Airport as part of a project with Raytheon Technical Services to test the Trent 1000. Raytheon won a contract with Rolls-Royce to provide site test and maintenance operations services for the flying test bed, Raytheon spokeswoman Melissa Cleary said. The Rolls-Royce engine is designed for the Boeing 787. Boeing also offers customers the GE Aviation GEnx for the fuel-efficient 787.  (Source: Arizona Daily Star, 07/17/12) Gulf Coast note: Rolls-Royce tests jetliner engines at its outdoor test stand at Stennis Space Center, Miss.; Raytheon Technical Services has an operation at SSC.

Airbus, and then some

Mobile Press-Register reporter/columnist who went to the Farnborough International Air Show last week came back with some fresh insight, including that the Airbus decision to place an assembly line at Brookley Aeroplex may be an even bigger deal than first imagined since it will serve as the European company's showcase in America. (Source: Mobile Press-Register, 07/18/12)

On-orbit test of MUOS completed

Feb. 24 launch of Atlas V
United Launch Alliance photo
SUNNYVALE, Calif. -- Lockheed Martin completed on-orbit testing of the first Mobile User Objective System (MUOS) satellite, paving the way for the U.S. Navy's multi-service operational test and evaluation phase in preparation for the start of operations in August 2012. MUOS-1 was launched Feb. 24, 2012 atop a United Launch Alliance Atlas V rocket from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station, Fla. A narrowband tactical satellite communications system, MUOS will provide communications, including simultaneous voice, video and data. (Source: PRNewswire, 07/17/12) Gulf Coast note: Work on the propulsion system for the MUOS, an A2100 satellite-based spacecraft, is done at Stennis Space Center, Miss. Previous

Study warns of job losses

The four states along the Gulf Coast Aerospace Corridor would lose a combined 158,341 jobs as a result of automatic governments spending cuts due to kick in Jan. 2, 2013. That's according to a study commissioned by the Aerospace Industries Association. Of the four, Florida would lose the most with 79,456 jobs eliminated, followed by Alabama with 38,778. Louisiana would see 28,432 jobs go away and Mississippi 11,672. The report by George Mason University says 2.14 million jobs could be lost nationwide in one year if the $1.2 trillion in mandated cuts take effect. (Source: GCAC, 07/18/12) AIA news releasestudy

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Contract: EADS NA, $9.7M

EADS North America Inc., Herndon, Va., was awarded a $9,706,114 firm-fixed-price contract to provide engineering support services. Work will be done in Columbus, Miss., with an estimated completion date of June 30, 2016. One bid was solicited, with one bid received. The U.S. Army Contracting Command, Redstone Arsenal, Ala., is the contracting activity. (Source: DoD, 07/17/12)

F-35 talks continue

Talks between the Pentagon and Lockheed Martin over the next F-35 production contract may wrap up soon. "I'm hopeful we'll have a settlement before too much time goes by,” Undersecretary for Acquisition Frank Kendall told reporters Monday. Negotiations for the fifth production contract of as many as 30 F-35s have been under way since last year. The first four contracts for 63 jets are exceeding their combined target cost by $1 billion, according to congressional auditors. (Source: Bloomberg BusinessWeek, 07/17/12) Gulf Coast note: Eglin Air Force Base is home of the F-35 training center.

Monday, July 16, 2012

Airbus impact explored

MOBILE, Ala. -- Airbus' A320 assembly line at Brookley Aeroplex will have a measurable impact on Mobile's economy, enough to make the city a better bet for lenders, according to a recent report by Moody's Investor Service. (Source: Mobile Press-Register, 07/16/12) Meanwhile, an official in Columbus, Miss., thinks Mobile is in for a big ride. That small city in Mississippi saw a lot of growth after the same company that owns Airbus established a helicopter manufacturing plant there a decade ago. (Source: Mobile Press-Register, 07/16/12)

Wing chalks up 100th F-35 sortie

Eglin F-35 lands after sortie.
AF photo by Maj. Karen Roganov
EGLIN AIR FORCE BASE, Fla. -- Marine Lt. Col. David Berke, commanding officer for the Marine Fighter Attack Training Squadron 501, completed the 100th F-35 sortie at the 33rd Fighter Wing July 11. The 33 FW's 100 flights include 74 F-35A sorties and F-35B sorties. Current flying operations at the wing consist of Marine and Air Force fighter pilots checking out in the F-35 variants for each service. (Source: Eglin Air Force Base, 07/12/12) Eglin is home of Joint Strike Fighter training for all military branches and allies.

AAC change coming this week

EGLIN AIR FORCE BASE, Fla. -- The Air Armament Center missions will officially become part of two other Air Force Materiel Command centers during a ceremony Wednesday at 9 a.m. Eglin's air armament development and acquisition mission will align to the Air Force Life Cycle Management Center at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base, Ohio, and the test mission will be part of the Air Force Test Center at Edwards Air Force Base, Calif. Eglin's 96th Air Base Wing will be redesignated the 96th Test Wing. (Source: Eglin Air Force Base, 07/16/12)

Schwartz has 'fini flight' at Hurlburt

HURLBURT FIELD, Fla. -- Air Force Chief of Staff Gen. Norton Schwartz made his final flight as an active duty officer aboard an MC-130E Combat Talon last week. During a visit to Hurlburt to meet with airmen and Air Force Special Operations Command leadership, Schwartz joined an MC-130E crew on a local training sortie, which served as Schwartz's "fini flight" in the Air Force. The MC-130E he flew belongs to the 919th Special Operations Wing, an Air Force Reserve wing at Duke Field, Fla. "This is more than a little sentimental for me to be back in this seat again," said Schwartz, whose retirement ceremony will be held Aug. 10 at Joint Base Andrews, Md. (Source: AFNS, 07/14/12)

53rd WEG changes command

TYNDALL AIR FORCE BASE, Fla. – Col. James Vogel assumed command of the 53rd Weapons Evaluation Group during an assumption of command ceremony Friday. Vogel was previously the commander of Detachment 6, Air Force Operational Test and Evaluation Center, Nellis Air Force Base, Nev. (Source: 325th Fighter Wing Public Affairs, 07/13/12)

Sunday, July 15, 2012

Airbus to learn from Eurocopter

COLUMBUS, Miss. – An American Eurocopter plant that opened less than a decade ago to assemble helicopters is now more efficient than its European counterpart. And officials from Airbus, which plans to build an A320 assembly line in Mobile, Ala., are taking a close look to benefit from that plant's experience. The Mississippi plant, which builds helicopters from the ground up for the U.S. military, law enforcement and others, is a subsidiary of EADS, which is also the parent of Airbus. (Source: Mobile Press-Register, 07/15/12)

Saturday, July 14, 2012

Cochran: Rehabilitate test stand

Sen. Thad Cochran, R-Miss., said he supports NASA's proposal to rehabilitate and reuse the B-2 rocket test stand at Stennis Space Center, Miss. NASA proposes spending $12 million to initiate the project that would support NASA's Space Launch System program, designed to send astronauts into deep space. NASA is expected to make significant investments in the B-2 test stand, an estimated $168 million through 2014, to prepare it for core stage testing. Cochran said the decision to reuse the B-2 test stand followed an SLS program evaluation of the costs and benefits of options for required testing of SLS engines. (Source: Sen. Thad Cochran, 07/13/12)

J-2X goes the distance

J-2X has 550-second test. NASA/SSC photo
STENNIS SPACE CENTER, Miss. -- NASA engineers conducted a 550-second test of the J-2X rocket engine at the A-2 Test Stand, the latest in a series of firings to gather data for engine development. This was the first flight-duration test of the engine's nozzle extension, a bell shaped device to increase engine performance. Operators collected data about the extension's performance in conditions that simulated heights up to 50,000 feet. Additionally, operators introduced different propellant pressures at startup. The Pratt and Whitney Rocketdyne J-2X engine will power the upper-stage of a planned two-stage Space Launch System, which will launch NASA's Orion spacecraft and other payloads. (Source: NASA/SSC, 07/13/12)

Friday, July 13, 2012

Contract: Logistic Svcs, $11.6M

Logistics Services International, Jacksonville, Fla., was awarded an $11,602,225 firm-fixed-price contract. The award will provide for the modification of an existing contract to procure UH-60M Black Hawk Maintenance Trainers. Work will be done in Pensacola, Fla., with an estimated completion date of June 28, 2017. The U.S. Army Contracting Command, Redstone Arsenal, Ala., is the contracting activity. (Source: DoD, 07/13/12)

Crew capsule design review done

SpaceX has completed a design review of the crewed version of the Dragon spacecraft that in May successfully docked with the International Space Station. The concept baseline review presented NASA with the primary and secondary design elements of the Dragon capsule that will carry astronauts into low Earth orbit, including the ISS. SpaceX is one of several companies working to develop crew transportation capabilities under the Commercial Crew Development Round 2 agreement with NASA's Commercial Crew Program. While NASA works with private companies, the agency is developing the Orion spacecraft and Space Launch System for deep space missions. (Source: NASA, 07/12/12) Gulf Coast note: Stennis Space Center, Miss., tests rocket engines for NASA's SLS program, as well as engines for commercial companies; Michoud Assembly Facility in New Orleans builds the Orion crew vehicle and will build the core of the SLS.

Tyndall gets new vice commander

TYNDALL AIR FORCE BASE, Fla. – Col. David Graff, the new vice commander of the 325th Fighter Wing, is happy to be back in Bay County. Graff, who became vice commander June 25, is on his third tour at Tyndall. His first time was in 1995 as a student in the F-15 Eagle program, and he returned to the 325th Fighter Wing in 1998 as an instructor pilot with the 2nd Fighter Squadron. He later served as a weapons officer with the 95th Fighter Squadron. (Source: 325th Fighter Wing Public Affairs, 07/12/12)

325th MOS changes command

TYNDALL AIR FORCE BASE, Fla. -- Maj. Brady Poe accepted command of the 325th Maintenance Operations Squadron from Maj. Christopher Cullen during a change of command ceremony Thursday. Poe arrived from the 509th Aircraft Maintenance Squadron, 509th Maintenance Group at Whiteman Air Force Base, Mo. where he was the operations officer. (Source: 325th Fighter Wing Public Affairs, 07/12/12)

Airbus tallies $16.9B in orders

FARNBOROUGH, England -- Airbus said Thursday that it had won orders and commitments for 115 aircraft worth $16.9 billion at the Farnborough International Air Show. The orders confirm strong recent demand for revamped versions of its A320 and A330 passenger jets from airlines that want fuel-efficient jets. But it's well below the record $72.2 billion in orders at the Paris air show last year. Boeing has announced orders for 220 jetliners worth $20.6 billion at list prices, mostly for current and new versions of its 737 single-aisle plane. (Source: MarketWatch, 07/12/12) Gulf Coast note: Airbus early this month said it's building an A320 assembly line in Mobile, Ala.

Thursday, July 12, 2012

Airbus incentives OK'd

MOBILE, Ala. -- Mobile's city council and county commission approved incentives for Airbus worth $29 million. The aircraft maker is building an A320 assembly line at Brookley Aeroplex, and the state and Mobile Airport Authority have pledged $129.5 million. The county and city contribution brings the total to $158.5 million. The bulk of the county's and city's incentives, $10 million each, will be payable over the next five years. (Source: Mobile Press-Register, 07/12/12)

Airliner picks GEnx engines

Germany's second largest airline, airberlin, chose the GEnx-1B engine to power its fleet of 15 Boeing 787-8 Dreamliners for which orders are confirmed. The airline also signed a 12-year agreement to cover the maintenance, repair and overhaul of its GEnx engines in a deal valued at more than $1.2 billion over the life of the contract. The GEnx-1B engine entered service in April with Japan Airlines and has accumulated more than 3,000 flight hours and close to 900 cycles. More than 800 GEnx-1B engines have been sold to more than 25 customers. (Source: GE Aviation, 07/10/12) Gulf Coast note: GE Aviation's plant in Batesville, Miss., makes composite fan stator, acoustic panels and fan platforms for GE90 engines and composite fan platforms and fan cases for GEnx engines. Its Ellisville plant, near Hattiesburg, Miss., will build advanced composite components for jet engines and the plant in Auburn, Ala., will make precision machined parts for commercial and military engines.

More orders for Rolls-Royce

Rolls-Royce won a $630 million contract with Brazil-based Synergy Aerospace to provide Trent 700 engines and long-term engine service support for nine Airbus A330s. Of the nine aircraft, six will be passenger jets and three freighters. More than 1,400 Trent 700 engines are now in service or on firm order. (Source: Rolls-Royce, 07/12/12) Gulf Coast note: Rolls-Royce tests airliner engines at its outdoor facility at NASA's Stennis Space Center, Miss. It's currently constructing a second facility at SSC. Previous

Eglin medics get Bronze Stars

EGLIN AIR FORCE BASE, Fla. -- Two combat medics received Bronze Stars during a ceremony Wednesday at Eglin Air Force Base. Between them, Lt. Col. Patrick Brannan and Maj. Richard Barnett performed more than 1,000 surgeries on wounded service members and nationals in Afghanistan. The Bronze Star is the ninth highest honor conferred by the armed services. (Source: Northwest Florida Daily News, 07/11/12)

Hypoxia issues continue

There were two more incidents involving F-22 pilots suffering from hypoxia when they flying an F-22. One incident was in Virginia and the other in Hawaii. Two members of Congress issued a letter of concern to the secretary of the Air Force. The letter also makes reference to a "grounding incident" of an F-22 at Tyndall Air Force Base, Fla., in May, which the Air Force contends was not a crash. (Source: Panama City News Herald, 07/11/12) Tyndall is the home of the 325th Fighter Wing, which provides training for F-22 Raptor pilots, maintenance personnel and air battle managers. Previous about Tyndall incident.

Airbus, Alcoa ink deal

Alcoa signed new multiyear agreements valued at about $1.4 billion to supply Airbus with products for virtually all of the passenger-jet maker's commercial programs. Alcoa will supply aluminum and aluminum-lithium wing parts and fuselage panels for Airbus's A320 and A380 jetliners as well as the A350 still in development. Alcoa has stepped up its aluminum-lithium offerings as competition has intensified from carbon-fiber reinforced plastic. (Source: MarketWatch, NASDAQ, 07/11/12) Gulf Coast note: Airbus plans to build an assembly line for A320 jetliners at Brookley Aeroplex in Mobile, Ala.

SELEX Galileo gets AGS contract

SELEX Galileo, a Finmeccanica company, has been awarded a contract worth $171 million by Northrop Grumman for NATO's Alliance Ground Surveillance program, which uses a Global Hawk unmanned aerial vehicle platform. Thirteen NATO countries are participating in the program: Bulgaria, the Czech Republic, Estonia, Germany, Italy, Latvia, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Norway, Romania, Slovakia, Slovenia and the United States. SELEX Galileo will be responsible for the fixed mission operational support and transportable general ground station components of the AGS system's ground-based element, and contribute to the telecommunications suite. (Source: defpro, 07/11/12) Gulf Coast note: Northrop Grumman builds the Global Hawk center fuselage in Moss Point, Miss.; SELEX Galileo has an operation in Kiln, Miss., near NASA's Stennis Space Center.

Rolls-Royce wins orders

Trent 700. Rolls-Royce photo
Rolls-Royce was selected by Cathay Pacific Airways to provide Trent XWB engines for 10 Airbus A350-1000 aircraft, subject to the approval of the Cathay board. The airline also will convert 16 orders for Airbus A350-900 aircraft to A350-1000s. All 26 aircraft will be powered by the higher-thrust version of the Trent XWB engine. (Source: Rolls-Royce, 07/10/12) Rolls-Royce also won an order worth $280 million at list prices from Avianca for Trent 700 engines to power four Airbus A330 freighter aircraft, (Source: Rolls-Royce, 07/11/12), and an order from Garuda Indonesia Airlines for Trent 700 engines to power 11 Airbus A330 aircraft. (Source: Rolls-Royce, 07/12/12) Gulf Coast note: Rolls-Royce tests airliner engines at its outdoor facility at NASA's Stennis Space Center. It's currently constructing a second facility at SSC.

CALC commits to 36 A320s

China Aircraft Leasing Co., a Hong Kong based aircraft leasing company, signed a Memorandum of Understanding at the Farnborough International Air show for 36 current generation A320s. CALC currently owns 11 Airbus aircraft including five A320s, five A321s and one A330. It also has three A330s and five A320s aircraft in its delivery pipeline. (Source: Airbus, 07/11/12) Gulf Coast note: Airbus plans to build an A320 assembly line in Mobile, Ala.

AFMC changes continue

SCOTT AIR FORCE BASE, Ill. -- The Air Force Global Logistics Support Center officially became part of the Air Force Sustainment Center of Tinker Air Force Base, Okla., during a ceremony Wednesday. The change is part of the Air Force Materiel Command reorganization, announced in November, that consolidates the command's number of centers from 12 to five. (Source: AFNS, 07/11/12) Gulf Coast note: At Eglin Air Force Base, Fla., the 96th Air Base Wing will be re-designated the 96th Test Wing on July 18. Previous related

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Hurlburt gets new commanders

HURLBURT FIELD, Fla. -- Maj. Ronald Kolodziekczyk became the new commander of the 1st Special Operations Equipment Maintenance Squadron June 25. Previous assignments include 1st Special Operations Aircraft Maintenance Squadron at Hurlburt and 1st Special Operations Maintenance Squadron at Eglin Air Force Base, Fla. (Source: 1st Special Operations Wing Public Affairs, 07/11/12) On June 5, Lt. Col. Richard Carrell became commander of the 15th Special Operations Squadron. Previous assignments include operations officer, 1st Special Operations Squadron, Kadena Air Base, Japan, and evaluator navigator of the 15th Special Operations Squadron at Hurlburt. (Source: 1st Special Operations Wing Public Affairs, 07/11/12)

Airbus eyes Washington suppliers

Airbus is looking for suppliers in Boeing's home state, according to the Seattle Times. David Williams, vice president of procurement at Airbus Americas, met with Washington Gov. Chris Gregoire to discuss opportunities. Williams' job is to find more U.S. suppliers for Airbus and its parent, EADS. Williams said in an interview at the Farnborough International Air Show that Washington is a key aerospace state, "an obvious pond to fish." The state has 740 aerospace suppliers. (Source: Seattle Times, 07/11/12) Gulf Coast note: Last week Airbus said it would build an A320 assembly line in Mobile, Ala., at Brookley Aeroplex that will create 3,200 construction jobs and eventually employ 1,000 workers.

A good kind of fatigue

Alabama's governor traveled 6,000 miles from Montgomery to Germany then London for the Farnborough air show, where Airbus' decision to build an assembly line in Mobile was a major topic. In the past two days alone, Gov. Robert Bentley met with two dozen companies, conducted a dozen interviews and delivered half as many speeches. The Mobile Press-Register talked to Bentley as he started the trek back home. (Source: Mobile Press-Register, 07/11/12)

F-35 update: Pilot and software

The 33rd Fighter Wing at Eglin Air Force Base, Fla., schoolhouse for the F-35, is ready to graduate its first non-cadre student F-35 pilot. It's Marine Lt. Col. Roger Hardy, the first non-test pilot, non-initial cadre pilot to qualify in the fighter. (Source: Flightglobal, 07/11/12) Meanwhile, the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter team has started to test fly the Lockheed Martin-built jet's Block 2A software. The test team has already started to undertake maturity flights for that software in order to release it to the F-35 training unit at Eglin. (Source: Flightglobal, 07/11/12)

Carrier pilots practice in Pensacola

PENSACOLA, Fla. -- F/A-18 pilots from the USS Harry S Truman are in Pensacola using an outlying field for carrier landing practice while repairs are made to their field in Oceana, Va. About 100 aviators, some using Super Hornets, are in Northwest Florida for training through most of July. They are using outlying field Choctaw near Naval Air Station Whiting Field in Milton, to the northeast of Naval Air Station Pensaola. (Source: Pensacola News Journal, 07/11/12)

Fire Scout training center opens

Fire Scout simulator. Northrop Grumman photo
JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – A new training facility for the Navy's Fire Scout unmanned helicopter opened Tuesday at Naval Air Station Jacksonville, Fla. The Fire Scout Training Center will meet increasing demands for trained operators as the system is used more during deployments. New flight simulators were placed in the facility to improve training, incorporating lessons learned during the MQ-8B Fire Scout's recent land- and sea-based deployments. Typical training lasts about six weeks. (Source: Northrop Grumman, 07/10/12) Gulf Coast note: Fire Scouts are built in part at the Northrop Grumman Unmanned Systems Center in Moss Point, Miss.

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

More F-35s to arrive at Eglin

The first four F-35s manufactured as part of the low rate initial production Lot 3 will begin ferrying to Eglin Air Force Base, Fla., in coming days from Fort Worth, Texas. They will bring the total F-35s at Eglin to 16. The Department of Defense now has more operational F-35s than test aircraft. A total of nine F-35s have been delivered for the year, giving DoD 30 aircraft – 16 operational and 14 test planes. DoD has eight test aircraft at Naval Air Station Patuxent River, Md., and six test aircraft at Edwards Air Force Base, Calif. (Source: Lockheed Martin, 07/10/12)

Contract: EADS, $15.2M

EADS North America Inc., Herndon, Va., was awarded a $15,221,000 firm-fixed-price contract. The award will provide for the modification of an existing contract to procure contractor logistic support. Work will be performed in Columbus, Miss., with an estimated completion date of June 30, 2016. The U.S. Army Contracting Command, Redstone Arsenal, Ala., is the contracting activity. (Source: DoD, 07/09/12)

Union eyes Mobile plant

The International Association of Machinists will try to organize Airbus workers in Mobile, Ala., when the A320 assembly line opens. That's what IAM President Tom Buffenbarger told The Street. Airbus announced last week that it plans to build a new seven-building, 116-acre complex at Brookley Aeroplex to build A320 jetliners. Buffenbarger said the union has a good relationship with Airbus, and that he's surprised it's taken the company this long to establish an assembly line in the United States. (Source: The Street, 07/09/12)

Goldman leaving NASA for Aerojet

HUNTSVILLE, Ala. -- Acting Marshall Space Flight Center Director Gene Goldman said Monday that he is retiring from the space agency in August to lead Aerojet's southeast regional operations. Taking over at MSFC will be current Marshall Associate Director Robin Henderson. Aerojet and Teledyne Brown Engineering will build a new rocket engine in Huntsville that will be marketed to NASA and the Air Force. Goldman is the former director of Stennis Space Center, Miss. (Sources: Huntsville Times, SpaceRefGlobe Newswire, 07/09/12) Gulf Coast note: Aerojet tests its AJ-26 engine at SSC.

Monday, July 9, 2012

Ng: Just a meeting

MOBILE, Ala. -- ST Aerospace Mobile President Joseph Ng said the rumor that the company is considering a move to Pensacola, Fla., is just that, a rumor. He confirmed meeting with Pensacola officials, but provided no details. Pensacola Mayor Ashton Hayward declined to comment. Ng also said his company, which has 1,500 workers, looks forward to opportunities with Airbus, which will build an A320 assembly line at Brookley Aeroplex, which is also the home of ST Aerospace Mobile. (Source: Mobile Press-Register, 07/09/12) In Pensacola, a columnist wrote Sunday that sources said ST Aerospace initiated the contact. (Source: Pensacola News Journal, 07/08/12) Previous. Meanwhile, in an unrelated matter, Singapore Technologies Aerospace, parent of ST Aerospace Mobile, said it secured $370 million in new contracts in the second quarter of 2012, including contracts for aircraft maintenance and modification. (Source: Mobile Press-Register, 07/09/12)

Fort Rucker getting new leader

FORT RUCKER, Ala. -- The Army Aviation Center of Excellence and Fort Rucker will be getting a new commander. It’s Maj. Gen. Kevin W. Mangum, who most recently served as commanding general of the U.S. Army Special Operations Aviation Command at Fort Bragg, N.C. Mangum replaces Maj. Gen. Anthony G. Crutchfield, who is being assigned as chief of staff, U.S. Pacific Command, Camp H. M. Smith, Hawaii. (Source: DoD, 07/09/12) Fort Rucker, near Dothan, Ala., is the primary flight training base for Army aviators.

AFFTC being renamed

EDWARDS AIR FORCE BASE, Calif. -- The Air Force Flight Test Center will become the Air Force Test Center during a ceremony July 13. Gen. Janet Wolfenbarger, commander of Air Force Materiel Command at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base, Ohio, will preside. The redesignation results from the command's consolidation of 12 centers to five. The Air Force Test Center will oversee work at Edwards as well as Eglin Air Force Base, Fla., and Arnold Air Force Base, Tenn. The Arnold operation was redesigned the Arnold Engineering and Development Complex July 6. At Eglin, the 96th Air Base Wing will be re-designated the 96th Test Wing on July 18. Missions at each location will continue. (Source: AFNS, 07/08/12)

A320neo production begins

TOULOUSE, France -- Less than a week after the announcement that Airbus will build an A320 assembly line in Mobile, Ala., the first "cutting of metal" for the A320neo version has taken place in Toulouse. It marks the start of manufacturing of the fuel-efficient version of the popular A320. The event was the machining of the first component for the engine pylon, the structures that hold the engine to the wing. The pylon has much in common with the existing type, but incorporates more titanium and new features tailored for fuel-efficient engines. (Source: Airbus, 07/08/12)

Research gets NASA funding

HATTIESBURG, Miss. -- A University of Southern Mississippi marine science professor is launching a year-long project to determine if life is possible on Mars. Scott Milroy will attempt to grow blue-green algae, cyanobacteria, in incubation chambers at Stennis Space Center, Miss., that mimic Mars' surface conditions. The experiment is one of five university projects nationwide that NASA is funding to provide science and engineering opportunities to university students. Experiments in two of the projects will eventually be flown on the International Space Station. (Source: Hattiesburg American, 07/07/12)

Sunday, July 8, 2012

London reception draws 500

LONDON -- The Mobile Press-Register’s George Talbot, in London for the Farnborough International Air Show, reports about a reception that drew 500 dignitaries Sunday prior to the start of the air show. Airbus' decision to build an assembly line in Mobile, Ala., made the reception, hosted by the Aerospace Alliance, a must event. (Source: Mobile Press-Register, 07/08/12) Meanwhile, Reuters reports that Boeing's new commercial planes chief downplayed Airbus' first U.S. assembly line. Ray Conner said airline customers don't care where planes are built, just the value they offer. (Source: Reuters, 07/08/12)

Saturday, July 7, 2012

Alabama reps arrive for show

LONDON -- Alabama delegates are arriving in England looking to capitalize on the announcement that Airbus will build a $600 million A320 assembly line in Mobile. Leaders believe it gives the state momentum heading into the Farnborough International Air Show. A delegation of 80 Alabamians, including about two dozen from Mobile, is led by Gov. Robert Brantley. The group kicks off the week with a reception Sunday night hosted by the Aerospace Alliance, a trade association representing Alabama, Florida, Louisiana and Mississippi. "We're actually having to turn away guests because we don't have enough space," said Neal Wade, chairman of the group and director of the Bay County (Florida) Economic Development Alliance. He said the reception will draw many of the top Airbus suppliers that are expected to locate near the new plant, which is scheduled to begin production in 2016. (Source: Mobile Press-Register, 07/07/12)

Friday, July 6, 2012

Airport sees boost from Airbus

FAIRHOPE, Ala. -- The H.L. "Sonny" Callahan Airport in Baldwin County may be in good position to benefit from Airbus' decision to build an A320 assembly line in nearby Mobile. For years the airport authority has worked to turn the airport into an economic development engine, including buying 250 acres adjacent to the runway in 2007. The runway itself was expanded a few years earlier to handle commercial or military aircraft. Airport Authority chairman Charles Zunk the Fairhope airport and the airport in Moss Point, Miss., are both well-positioned. He said Fairhope is qualified for secondary vendors for Airbus. Aviation entities already located at or near Fairhope include Continental Motors, Segers Aero, the Alabama Department of Public Safety, AMRO, PHI and John Ward Flight Training. About 50 aircraft are based at Fairhope. Also in the works is an aviation training facility. (Source: Mobile Press-Register, 07/05/12)

Airbus good for USA students

MOBILE, Ala. -- The announcement that Airbus will build an assembly line for A320 jetliners in Mobile will mean University of South Alabama’s College of Engineering students will have a better chance staying in the area. A partnership between Airbus and USA was already in place prior to the announcement, but the latest news boosts the relationship, meaning more USA engineering graduates could be hired on by Airbus. (Source: Mobile Press-Register, 07/06/12) Previous re announcement

Thursday, July 5, 2012

Aerospace book updated

The second annual "Gulf Coast Aerospace Corridor 2012-2013," published early last month, has been updated to include details about the major announcement that Airbus will built an A320 assembly line in Mobile, Ala., a move that promises to be a watershed event for the Gulf Coast region. The book focuses on the considerable aerospace activities in the region between New Orleans and Northwest Florida, including space, pilot training, weapons development and more. It's available as a free PDF or as a printed book at cost. (Source: Gulf Coast Reporters’ League, 07/05/12)

Wednesday, July 4, 2012

World fleet to double in 20 years

Boeing is projecting a $4.5 trillion market for 34,000 new airplanes over the next 20 years as the current world fleet doubles in size, according to the Boeing 2012 Current Market Outlook released Tuesday. The company's annual forecast reflects the strength of the commercial aviation market. Airline traffic is forecasted to grow at a 5 percent annual rate over the next two decades, with cargo traffic projected to grow at an annual rate of 5.2 percent. The single-aisle market will continue its robust growth. (Source: Boeing, 07/03/12) Gulf Coast note: Boeing competitor Airbus is establishing an A320 assembly line in Mobile, Ala., to help it meet high demand for single-aisle jetliners. The A320 family of planes competes with Boeing’s 737 and its future 737 MAX.

PW welcomes Airbus plant

Among those congratulating Airbus for its decision to build an assembly line for A320s in Mobile, Ala., was Pratt & Whitney. The company, part of United Technologies, provides engines for the A320 family of aircraft: the PW1100G-JM and the V2500 engine made by the International Aero Engines collaboration. "Airbus' decision to open a new production facility and create high-tech jobs here in the United States is a very positive sign for the entire aerospace industry," said UTC Chairman and Chief Executive, Louis ChĂȘnevert. Pratt & Whitney President David Hess said his company "looks forward to building on our longstanding partnership with Airbus and powering many of the aircraft being assembled in Mobile." (Source: Pratt and Whitney, 07/02/12) In a related matter, Rolls-Royce late last month completed the restructuring of its participation in International Aero Engines Collaboration. The company sold its equity to Pratt & Whitney, though Rolls-Royce continues to manufacture high-pressure compressors, fan blades and discs as well as the provision of engineering support and final assembly of 50 per cent of V2500 engines. Other IAE shareholders are Pratt & Whitney Aero Engines International GmbH, Japanese Aero Engines Corp., and MTU Aero Engines GmbH. (Source: Rolls-Royce, 06/29/12) UT's Pratt & Whitney Rocketdyne assembles and tests rocket engines at Stennis Space Center, Miss.

MAF-built Orion at KSC

Lockheed Martin photo
The first space-bound Orion spacecraft crew module has been delivered to the Operations and Checkout Building on NASA's Kennedy Space Center, Fla. The crew module structure recently underwent its final friction stir weld at NASA's Michoud Assembly Facility in New Orleans, and was transported to KSC to be readied for its Exploration Flight Test in 2014. Over the next year and a half the crew module will undergo final assembly, integration and testing at KSC in preparation for the Exploration Flight Test. Additional subsystems will be installed, including propulsion, thermal protection, environmental control, avionics, power, mechanisms, and landing and recovery systems. The EFT-1 flight, using a Delta IV rocket, will be NASA's first orbital flight test beyond low Earth orbit since the 1960s. (Source: Lockheed Martin, 07/02/12) Stennis Space Center, Miss., tests the rocket engines that will be used in the massive Space Launch System that will launch future Orion flights.

Tuesday, July 3, 2012

46th tests alcohol fuel in A-10

A-10 tests alcohol fuel. Air Force photo
EGLIN AIR FORCE BASE, Fla. -- The 40th Flight Test Squadron made history June 28 flying the first aircraft to use a new fuel blend derived from alcohol. The fuel, ATJ (Alcohol-to-Jet), is the third alternative fuel to be evaluated by the Air Force as a replacement for standard petroleum-derived JP-8 aviation fuel. "The A-10 is the first aircraft ever to fly on this fuel," said Jeff Braun, Chief for the Air Force Alternative Fuel Certification Division, at Wright Patterson AFB, Ohio. It flew without any issues. ATJ is a cellulousic-based fuel that can be derived using wood, paper, grass, anything that is a cell-based material. The sugars extracted from these materials are fermented into alcohols, which are then hydro-processed into the aviation-grade kerosenes used for aviation fuel. (Source: Team Eglin Public Affairs, 07/02/12)

Monday, July 2, 2012

Mobile welcomes Airbus

MOBILE, Ala. -- In an announcement that sounded at times like a pep rally and patriotic celebration, Europe's Airbus and Alabama dignitaries today made it official: Mobile is getting a $600 million A320 assembly plant. It will eventually make 40 to 50 aircraft a year. Building the Airbus complex at Brookley Aeroplex will create 3,200 construction jobs alone, and the plant will eventually employ 1,000 people, but official said the ripple effect will mean 5,000 jobs in the region. The Airbus complex will include seven buildings on 116 acres. Sections of the aircraft built in Europe will be shipped to the Alabama State Docks in Mobile and fabricated at Brookley. The project, which includes state and local incentives, puts Mobile, Alabama and the Gulf Coast region in a select club of locations producing commercial airliners. The arrival of the world's largest aircraft manufacturer on to the home turf of its chief rival, Boeing, is likely to change the dynamics of the aerospace industry for years to come. Airbus opted to build the U.S. plant to satisfy the growing need of airliners for fuel-efficient short to medium-haul replacement jets. (Source: GCAC, 07/02/12)

Airbus chief toasts Mobile

MOBILE, Ala. – After days of official silence, Airbus and Alabama dignitaries today (10 a.m. CDT) will confirm what everyone already knows: Mobile is getting a $600 million A320 assembly plant that will make up to 40 aircraft a year by 2017. Late Sunday European business executives and Alabama politicians gathered in the historic Battle House Hotel in Mobile, where Airbus President Fabrice Bregier toasted his hosts, according to the Mobile Press-Register. The project will put Mobile, Alabama and the Gulf Coast region in a select club of locations producing single-aisle commercial jetliners. An airliner plant owned by the world’s largest aircraft manufacturer on to the home turf of its chief rival, Boeing, is expected to change the dynamics of the aerospace industry. (Source: GCAC, Mobile Press-Register, 07/02/12)

Sunday, July 1, 2012

Mobile to build A319, A320, A321

MOBILE, Ala. – The Mobile Press-Register reports that Airbus has approved plans for a plant at Mobile's Brookley Aeroplex that will assemble A319, A320 and A321 aircraft. The formal announcement will be Monday. The $600 million plant will employ 1,000 workers at full capacity, according to an internal briefing document obtained by the Press-Register, producing up to 50 aircraft per year by 2017. Construction will begin in 2013, creating 2,500 jobs over two years, with aircraft assembly beginning in 2015 and the first deliveries in 2016. (Source: Mobile Press-Register, 06/30/12)