Thursday, January 30, 2014

Contract: Bell-Boeing, $10.3M

Bell-Boeing Joint Project Office, Amarillo, Texas, is being awarded a $10,322,803 modification to a previously awarded cost-plus-incentive-fee contract (N00019-09-D-0008) for additional Joint Performance Based Logistics support for the Marine Corps MV-22, and the Air Force and Special Forces Operations Command CV-22 aircraft. Work will be performed in Amarillo, Texas (50 percent) and Philadelphia, Pa. (50 percent), and is expected to be completed in February 2014. Fiscal 2013 defense-wide procurement, Special Operations Command; Fiscal 2013 aircraft procurement, Air Force; Fiscal 2014 aircraft procurement, Navy; Fiscal 2014 operations and maintenance, Air Force, Special Operations Command and Navy funds in the amount of $10,322,803 will be obligated at time of award, $8,376,278 of which will expire at the end of the current fiscal year. The Naval Air Systems Command, Patuxent River, Md., is the contracting activity. (Source: DoD, 01/30/14) Gulf Coast note: Hurlburt Field, Fla., is home of the Air Force Special Operations Command and the 1st Special Operations Wing, which uses the CV-22 Osprey.

A330 engine upgrade eyed

Airbus Group will decide by the end of March whether to offer more efficient engines for its A330 wide-body jet. The A330 currently offers engines from GE, Rolls-Royce and Pratt & Whitney. The A330 competes against Boeing's 787, powered by either GE or Rolls-Royce engines. (Source: Bloomberg, 01/29/14) Gulf Coast note: Airbus Group, the former EADS, proposed using the A330 MRTT platform for Air Force aerial tankers it hoped to build in Mobile, Ala. That project went to Boeing. Airbus is now building an A320 final assembly line in Mobile; GE Aviation builds engine parts at facilities in Auburn, Ala., Ellisville and Batesville, Miss.; Rolls-Royce tests jetliner engines at Stennis Space Center, Miss.

Can business be too good?

Boeing finished last year with a record order backlog, nearing 5,100 airplanes valued at nearly $400 billion. The company has been inundated with orders for new, more fuel-efficient versions of its top-selling 737 and other jetliners. Europe’s Airbus has an even larger order book, 5,559 airplanes at year’s end, led by its enormously popular A320 family. The backlogs represent more than eight years of assembly work for both companies. That kind of robust business, however, poses a question both companies have begun to consider: When is an order backlog too big? (Source: Businessweek, 01/29/14) Previous: Airbus eyes higher output; Airbus beats Boeing in sales

Wednesday, January 29, 2014

Contract: Lockheed, $35.8M

Lockheed Martin Corp., Lockheed Martin Aeronautics Co., Ft. Worth, Texas, is being awarded a $35,781,319 modification to a previously awarded cost-plus-fixed-fee contract (N00019-02-C-3002) to develop a Universal Armament Interface capability in the F-35 software for Small Diameter Bomb II F-35 Mission Systems Integration Laboratory, ground test only. Work will be performed in Fort Worth and is expected to be completed in April 2018. The Naval Air Systems Command, Patuxent River, Md., is the contracting activity. (Source: DoD, 01/29/14) Gulf Coast note: Eglin Air Force Base, Fla., is home of the F-35 training center, as well as the base where aerial weapons systems like the Small Diameter Bomb are developed.

SSC to open at noon

STENNIS SPACE CENTER, Miss. -- NASA's Stennis Space Center in south Mississippi will open at noon Thursday due to potential dangerous road conditions during the morning commute. A liberal leave policy for NASA employees will be in effect for Thursday. SSC was closed Tuesday and Wednesday due to the weather. (Source: Stennis Space Center, 01/29/14) Previous

Report details F-35 cracks

The Air Force and Marine variants of the F-35 developed cracks in testing of the fighter's durability and wasn't sufficiently reliable in training flights last year, according to a report released Tuesday. The Pentagon's chief tester, Michael Gilmore, notes cracks occurred in fuselage bulkheads, flanges, stiffeners and engine mounts. The report says it will require mitigation plans and may include redesigning parts and additional weight. The test report also outlined achievements, finding that flight tests performed by 18 jets to evaluate the aircraft’s flying prowess and handling qualities "made the planned progress" and "nearly matched or exceeded" sortie goals through October. (Source: Bloomberg, 01/28/14) Gulf Coast note: Eglin Air Force Base, Fla., is home of the F-35 training center.

VietJetAir to finalize Airbus order

Vietnamese carrier VietJetAir said it would finalize a $9 billion order for up to 92 Airbus aircraft next month as it seeks to tap into Southeast Asia's fast growing low-cost market dominated by AirAsia Bhd and Lion Air. In September, privately owned VietJetAir and Airbus agreed to a provisional order for mostly A320 planes, but the deal did not show up on the order book of Airbus in its 2013 data. (Source: Reuters, 01/28/14) Gulf Coast note: Airbus is building a final assembly line for A320s in Mobile, Ala. Previous: Airbus inks more orders, Airbus beats Boeing in sales

Tuesday, January 28, 2014

UTC ponders Sikorsky's future

United Technologies is pondering the future of helicopter maker Sikorsky, according to Defense News. Sikorsky, maker of Black Hawk, could emerge as a tempting target for European firms eager to crack a U.S. market that remains lucrative. Sikorsky and UTC, which also owns aircraft engine maker Pratt & Whitney and UTC Aerospace Systems, declined comment. Sikorsky is the Pentagon's leading helicopter supplier, Boeing is second, the Bell-Boeing joint venture is No. 3, Textron's Bell Helicopter is fourth and Airbus Helicopters is fifth. (Source: Defense News, 01/27/14) Gulf Coast note: Sikorsky has multiple support operations in the Gulf Coast; Sikorsky's Schweizer 333 is the airframe for the Fire Scout MQ-8B, built in part in Moss Point, Miss.; Airbus Helicopters builds helicopters in Columbus, Miss.; Bell plans to build a helicopter plant in Lafayette, La.; UTC has a nacelles and service center in facility in Foley, Ala.

SSC to remain closed

STENNIS SPACE CENTER, Miss. -- NASA's Stennis Space Center in south Mississippi will remain closed on Wednesday due to potential dangerous weather conditions. It was also closed Tuesday. Employees can call (228) 688-3777 for status updates. (Source: Stennis Space Center, 01/28/14) Previous

S. Korea eyes F-35 deal in 3Q

South Korea plans to sign a deal to buy 40 fighter jets in the third quarter, its arms procurement agency said on Monday. South Korea decided to redraw terms of its $7.68 billion tender to buy 60 fighters last year, reducing the number in December to an initial 40 jets. South Korea signaled plans to buy the Lockheed Martin F-35A after its Joint Chiefs endorsed a need in December for "cutting-edge stealth" jets for first delivery in 2018. (Source: Reuters, 01/27/14) Gulf Coast note: Eglin Air Force Base, Fla., is the F-35 training center.

Shelby tours GE Aviation

AUBURN, Ala. -- U.S. Sen. Richard Shelby, R-Ala., visited Auburn's GE Aviation plant Monday as part of a statewide tour of businesses. Now in his 28th year in the Senate, Shelby said he visits every Alabama county yearly. This year, he decided to tour area businesses. It was Shelby's first visit to GE Aviation, which opened in April. During the tour, Shelby observed the production of jet engine components, like shrouds, blades and turbines. GE Aviation has about 65 workers at the plant, but the number is expected to increase to 300 or 400 in the next several years. (Source: Opelika-Auburn News, 01/27/14) Previous related

Weather prompts early release

EGLIN AIR FORCE BASE, Fla. -- Due to anticipated inclement weather, the installation commander has ordered that non-mission critical military and civilian personnel be released at 2 p.m. today. Eglin will reopen for normal business at noon on Wednesday. All military and civilian personnel should report for duty at noon Wednesday or at the start of their normally scheduled duty period thereafter. (Source: Office of Public Affairs, 01/28/14)

Monday, January 27, 2014

Global Hawk a budget winner?

The Global Hawk unmanned aerial system could be a big winner in the Air Force's fiscal 2015 budget submission. That would mark a change in fortune for a program the service has tried to kill since 2012. The Northrop Grumman-built Global Hawk Block 30 will be funded when the president's budget arrives March 4, said two sources with knowledge of budget discussions. The sources confirmed funding will come at the expense of the U-2, which the Air Force had promoted as a cheaper alternative. The news was first reported by Aviation Week. (Source: Defense News, 01/26/14) Gulf Coast note: Global Hawk is built in part in Moss Point, Miss.

Contract: L-3 Vertex, $13.8M

L-3 Communications Vertex Aerospace LLC, Madison, Miss., is being awarded a $13,764,771 modification to a previously awarded firm-fixed-price contract (N00019-09-D-0007) to exercise an option for organizational, selected intermediate and limited depot level maintenance for F-16, F-18, H-60 and E-2C aircraft operated by the adversary squadrons based at Naval Air Station, Fallon, Nev. Work will be performed in Fallon and is expected to be completed in October 2014. Fiscal 2014 operations and maintenance, Navy Reserve funds in the amount of $13,764,771 are being obligated at time of award, all of which will expire at the end of the current fiscal year. The Naval Air Systems Command, Patuxent River, Md., is the contracting activity. (Source: DoD, 01/27/14)

Weather closing SSC

STENNIS SPACE CENTER, Miss. -- NASA's Stennis Space Center in south Mississippi will be closed on Tuesday due to potential dangerous weather conditions. If conditions warrant, the site will continue to be closed on Wednesday. A decision will be made by 6 p.m. Tuesday. Workers can call (228) 688-3777 for status updates. (Source: Stennis Space Center, 01/27/14)

Senior enlisted assignment

The U.S. Transportation Command announced Monday that Air Force Command Chief Master Sgt. William W. Turner, currently assigned as command chief master sergeant, Air Force Special Operations Command, Hurlburt Field, Fla., has been selected as command senior enlisted leader, U.S. Transportation Command, Scott Air Force Base, Ill. (Source: DoD, 01/27/14)

Friday, January 24, 2014

Command gets new leader

PENSACOLA, Fla. – The Naval Education and Training Command at Naval Air Station Pensacola, Fla., has a change of command ceremony Friday afternoon. Rear Adm. Mike White took command from Rear Adm. Don Quinn. White is a naval aviator whose most recent duty was commander of Carrier Strike Group 11. Quinn, is retiring after 35 years of service. (Source: WEAR-TVPensacola News Journal, 01/24/14)

$2.45M in defense grants awarded

Defense grants totaling $2.45 million will be awarded to 14 Florida communities with military installations. Escambia County is getting $250,000, Santa Rosa County $280,000, Okaloosa $300,000, Walton County $60,000 and Bay County $100,000. Part of the money is earmarked to buy land around the bases to prevent encroachment, and part for community relations and economic development. The military and defense industry is responsible for $73.4 billion, or 9.4 percent, of Florida's gross state product, according to state officials. (Source: WEAR, WJHG, Pensacola News JournalOffice of the Governor, 01/24/14)

Contract: B3H, $6.9M

B3H Corp., Shalimar, Fla., has been awarded a $6,856,100 firm-fixed-price task order for an existing contract (FA4890-12-D-0014) for English language instructors and an English language training program using Defense Language Institute English Language Center courseware, methodology and processes. This modification provides for the exercise of the first option year. Work will be performed at King Abdul Aziz Air Base, Dhahran, and is expected to be completed by Jan. 31, 2015. This contract is 100 percent foreign military sales for the government of Saudi Arabia. 338 SCONS, Joint Base San Antonio, Texas, is the contracting activity. (Source: DoD, 01/24/14)

Thursday, January 23, 2014

Final truss placed at FAL

MOBILE, Ala. – The final truss, signed by the construction crew and project team, has been placed atop the main structure of the Airbus A320 final assembly line at Mobile Aeroplex at Brookley. Ground was broken less than 10 months ago. The $600 million facility, which will come on line in 2015, eventually will employ about 1,000 workers. It will build 40 to 50 jetliners a year by 2018. Construction contracts for the other buildings will be awarded soon. (Source:, 01/23/14)

Embry-Riddle rebounds

FORT WALTON BEACH, Fla. – Enrollment is up at Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University Institute and courses are already planned for the next three years. Enrollment went from 60 at Choctawhatchee and Crestview high schools last year to 155 this year. An evening class has been introduced as well as unmanned aerial vehicle courses. Next year Embry-Riddle plans to add engineering courses. (Source: Northwest Florida Daily News, 01/23/14)

General assigned to Ft. Rucker

The Army chief of staff announced that Brig. Gen. Michael D. Lundy, deputy commanding general, U.S. Army Combined Arms Center, U.S. Army Training and Doctrine Command, Fort Leavenworth, Kan., has been assigned to commanding general, Aviation Center of Excellence and Fort Rucker, Fort Rucker, Ala. (Source: DoD, 01/23/14)

F-35 issues surface in report

A new Pentagon report warns that software, maintenance and reliability problems with the F-35 could delay the Marine Corps' plans to start using its F-35B jets by mid-2015. The report by the Pentagon's chief weapons tester, Michael Gilmore, is a critique of the technical challenges, and focuses heavily on what it calls the unacceptable performance of the plane's software, according to a draft obtained by Reuters. The report forecast a possible 13-month delay in completing testing of the Block 2B software needed for the Marine Corps to clear the jets for initial combat use next year. (Source: Reuters, 01/23/14) Gulf Coast note: Eglin Air Force Base, Fla., is home of the F-35 training center.

Company coming to airpark

CRESTVIEW, Fla. -- A company that will help train aerospace workers is coming to the Okaloosa Industrial Air Park. Carolina Aeronautical Airframe and Powerplant of Simpsonville, S.C., announced late Tuesday that it will open a branch in Crestview. Carolina Aeronautical specializes in courses for students to receive FAA certification for aircraft mechanics. The Carolina Aero Prep Panhandle Campus initially will offer training for veterans or retired military aircraft maintainers to receive certification for commercial work. Classes are expected to start in March. The park is at Bob Sikes Airport. (Source: Northwest Florida Daily News, 01/22/14)

Magellan to make A320 wing ribs

TORONTO – Canada's Magellan Aerospace said it will manufacture and supply 5-axis machined wing ribs for Airbus' single aisle A320 family, including the A320neo. The work complements the existing A320 wing ribs manufactured by Magellan Aerospace. The work is expected to generate revenues of about $20 million over five years. Magellan will invest in a new high-speed, 5-axis machining center in its facility in Greyabbey, Northern Ireland. Magellan Aerospace provides assemblies and systems to aircraft and engine manufacturers worldwide. It's a public company with operating units throughout Canada, the United States, the United Kingdom, India, and Poland. (Source: Wall Street Journal, 01/22/14) Gulf Coast note: Airbus is building an A320 final assembly line in Mobile, Ala., that will begin production in 2015.

Wednesday, January 22, 2014

Contract: L-3, $129M

L-3 Communications, Madison, Miss., was awarded a $129,000,000 modification to contract W58RGZ-10-C-0107 for maintenance and modification of the Army C-12/RC-12/UC-35 fixed wing aircraft fleet. Estimated completion date is Jan. 31, 2015. Work will be performed in Madison. Army Contracting Command, Redstone Arsenal, Ala. is the contracting activity. (Source: DoD, 01/22/14)

Contract: Gen. PAE, $28M

General PAE Applied Technologies LLC, Fort Worth, Texas, has been awarded a $28,070,424 modification on an existing contract (FA3010-13-C-0007) exercising the option for Keesler Air Force Base, Miss., base operations support services. Work will be performed at Keesler and is expected to be completed on Jan. 31, 2015. The 81st Contracting Squadron, Keesler, is the contracting activity. (Source: DoD, 01/22/14)

F-35 jobs overstated?

Lockheed Martin's estimate that the F-35 program supports 125,000 jobs in the United States is "greatly exaggerated." That's according to a new think tank report issued Wednesday by the non-profit Center for International Policy. In the report, William Hartung, a longtime critic of the program, said standard estimating procedures would put the number of jobs closer to 50,000 to 60,000. Lockheed defended its estimate, which is based on 32,500 direct jobs and adds 92,500 indirect jobs. The company said it expected the number of jobs would grow as production increased. The F-35 is a frequent target in military budget cut drills, but top U.S. officials have said current funding levels are important to preserve economies of scale aimed at lowering the plane's cost over time.  (Sources: Multiple, including Reuters, Bloomberg, 01/22/14) Gulf Coast note: Eglin Air Force Base, Fla., is home of the F-35 training center.

Stolen F-35 data leads to indictment

WASHINGTON -- A former employee of Pratt and Whitney who tried to ship boxes of stolen information on the F-35 to Iran has been indicted by a federal grand jury. Mozaffar Khazaee, born in Iran but a naturalized American citizen since 1991, is charged with two counts of interstate transportation of stolen property. The former resident of Bridgeport, Conn., arrested Jan. 9 at Newark International Airport, faces a maximum of 10 years in prison and a fine of up to $250,000 for each count. (Source: Defense News, 01/21/14) Gulf Coast note: Eglin Air Force Base, Fla., in northwest Florida is home of the F-35 training center.

Tuesday, January 21, 2014

L-3 cuts workforce

CRESTVIEW, Fla. -- One of Okaloosa County's largest employers has laid off more than 10 percent of its staff. L-3 Crestview Aerospace confirmed Monday that it had reduced its workforce by about 100 positions late last week and early this week. The company still employs more than 850 people at its Crestview location. According to public relations manager Lance Martin, the layoffs resulted from a lower volume of work in L-3's U.S. defense programs and delays in the awarding of a commercial contract. Local economist David Goetsch said he expects to see a lot of defense contractors reducing staff in the next couple of years. (Source: Northwest Florida Daily News, 01/20/14) L-3 Crestview Aerospace does aircraft modifications, aerostructure fabrication and assembly. Previous

Shelby visits UTC Aerospace

FOLEY, Ala. – U.S. Sen. Richard Shelby, R-Ala., who is on a statewide jobs and industry tour, stopped at UTC Aerospace Systems Monday. The largest manufacturing employer in Baldwin County was the seventh stop on his tour. The aerostructures business unit designs, builds and supports nacelle systems for commercial and military aircraft. The Foley site houses both original equipment work as well as the Alabama Service Center, a maintenance, repair and overhaul site for nacelle components. (Source:, 01/20/14) Previous

Safran buys Eaton units

Defense and aeronautics engineering group Safran will buy aerospace businesses from Eaton Corp. for $270 million in cash. Safran will acquire Eaton's Aerospace Power Distribution Management Solutions, which makes key contactor and circuit breakers for jets. It will also acquire Eaton's Cockpit Solutions, manufacturing plane panels and displays in cockpits. The deal is expected to close in the first half of 2014. Safran is 2013 acquired Goodrich Electrical Power Systems. (Source: Wall Street Journal, Reuters, 01/20/14) Gulf Coast note: Safran has an engineering center in Mobile, Ala.; Eaton has a hydraulic systems center in Jackson, Miss. Related

Monday, January 20, 2014

Exercise hones combat skills

F-22s inspected on flight line before exercise.
Air Force photo
TYNDALL AIR FORCE BASE, Fla. – Tyndall Air Force Base held a "war day" exercise late last week designed to increase the combat prowess of F-22 pilots of the 43rd and 95th Fighter Squadrons. The simulated air combat mission pulled together aircraft in an atmosphere the pilots might see on a real battlefield. The event featured Mitsubishi MU-2 aircraft, F-4 Phantoms, F-16 Fighting Falcons from Luke AFB, Ariz., T-38 Talons and F-22s. "The goal is to try to increase the knowledge of the base and give them an idea of what having a fighter squadron that could deploy means and what type of mission they will be training on," said Capt. Daniel Dickinson, 43rd F-22 Raptor instructor pilot and Bravo Flight commander. (Source: 325th Fighter Wing Public Affairs, 01/17/14)

Harbert to build Enterprise facility

ENTERPRISE, Ala. -- The new $12 million aircraft maintenance hangar for Alabama Aircraft Support in Enterprise will be built by BL Harbert International of Birmingham. Alabama Aircraft Support will use to facility to repair and maintain helicopters, creating up to 200 jobs. The main building will house a production floor and administrative offices. The site will also include a paint building, defueling and wash area, two landing pads, aprons and parking areas, along with a taxi-way connection to the airport. The project is slated to be finished in October. (Source:, 01/17/14) Previous

Saturday, January 18, 2014

Iconic building renamed

PENSACOLA, Fla. – The historic Command Headquarters at Naval Air Station Pensacola was renamed in a ceremony Friday after Navy photographer Walter Leroy Richardson. About 300 people, including some two dozen of Richardson's descendents, attended the ceremony that kicked off the base's centennial. The 63,000-square-foot Building 1500, which recently had an $11.2 million renovation, also housed the Navy's photography school. About 4,000 photographers graduated during the school's 48-year history at NAS Pensacola. That curriculum is now taught at Fort Meade, Md. (Source: Pensacola News Journal, 01/18/14)

Friday, January 17, 2014

Seventeen airports to feel cuts

Three airports in the Gulf Coast will lose American Airlines direct flight to Washington D.C.'s Reagan National Airport. American Airlines will cut the daily nonstop flights to Florida's Pensacola, Fort Walton Beach and Tallahassee, along with 14 other small and midsize cities. It results from the deal that paved the way for American's merger with US Airways. As the newly created world's largest passenger airline, American was required to give up the National Airport slots to win federal approval of the merger. (Sources: Herald Tribune, Washington Post, 01/15/14)

Thursday, January 16, 2014

Cornum going to Scott

Brig. Gen. (Dr.) Kory G. Cornum, commander, 81st Medical Group, Air Education and Training Command, Keesler Air Force Base, Miss., is being assigned to command surgeon, Headquarters Air Mobility Command, Scott Air Force Base, Ill., the Air Force announced Thursday. Cornum is also the senior market manager for TRICARE's Gulf Coast Multi-Service Market, which includes five military medical facilities stretching from Mobile, Ala., to New Orleans. (Source: DoD, 01/16/14)

First Airbus hires in Germany to train

The first group of workers hired for the Airbus final assembly line being built in Mobile, Ala., are in Hamburg, Germany, for training. The group, which has trained in Mobile for the past two months, includes four Alabama natives who will spend at least 10 months in Hamburg. The $600 million assembly line in Mobile will open in 2015 and will eventually have 1,000 workers. It will eventually produce between 40 and 50 aircraft each year. (Source:, 01/16/14)

Wednesday, January 15, 2014

United drops some Airbus orders

United Continental Holdings Inc. canceled orders for 12 Airbus single-aisle planes valued at about $1.08 billion that the carrier said are no longer needs. It affects six A319s and six A320s, according to Christen David, a spokeswoman for United. After once targeting the Airbus jets for removal, United said Nov. 19 it was upgrading them with new seats, larger overhead bins and satellite Wi-Fi, deferring $3 billion of capital expense needed for new jets. The orders were canceled in December, David said. (Source: Bloomberg, 01/15/14)

Airbus seeks liaison engineers

MOBILE, Ala. -- Airbus is seeking liaison engineer candidates in three categories for its A320 final assembly line at the Mobile Aeroplex. The three new engineering positions will focus on installation, structure and systems, and each requires a minimum of 10 months training abroad. Liaison engineers support the production line, ensuring each aircraft meets standards of safety and reliability. Airbus is building a $600 million assembly line that will open in 2015 and eventually employ about 1,000 people. (Source:, 01/15/13)

Tuesday, January 14, 2014

BAMS-D hits 10K hours milestone

The Northrop Grumman RQ-4A Broad Area Maritime Surveillance-Demonstrator (BAMS-D) unmanned aircraft system has completed 10,000 combat hours in the six years it has been deployed in the Central Command area of responsibility, the US Navy disclosed. The RQ-4 Global Hawk Block 20-based high-altitude long-endurance was originally intended to deploy for six months as a concept demonstration, but has had its deployment extended indefinitely ahead of the planned introduction into service of its successor, MQ-4C Triton, which completed its first flight on May 22, 2013. The Navy has two BAMS-D aircraft operating out of Patuxent River in Maryland. Typical missions include tracking surface shipping and taking imagers of littoral targets. (Source: IHS Janes 360, 01/13/14) Gulf Coast note: The BAMS aircraft and Triton are built in part in Moss Point, Miss.; Previous

Global Hawk safety record tops

SAN DIEGO -- Northrop Grumman's Global Hawk Unmanned Aerial System has been designated as the platform with the best safety record in the U.S. Air Force in 2013. The combat-proven Global Hawk has logged more than 100,000 flight hours and carries a variety of intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance sensor payloads to allow military commanders to gather near real-time imagery and uses radar to detect moving or stationary targets on the ground or at sea. The system supports antiterrorism, antipiracy, humanitarian assistance, disaster relief, airborne communications and information sharing missions. (Source: Northrop Grumman, 01/13/14) Gulf Coast note: Global Hawks are built in part in Moss Point, Miss.

Monday, January 13, 2014

Airbus eyes higher output

Airbus is exploring higher output of A320 single-aisle and A350 wide-body aircraft, following a similar move by Boeing, to help shorten the wait time for customers following its highest order intake ever last year. Airbus now builds 42 of its workhorse single-aisle jets a month, and production could rise to 44 or 46 in early 2016, said Tom Williams, Airbus executive vice president for programs. Output of the updated A320neo could rise to about 50 after 2018, and the 10-a-month rate targeted for A350s in 2018 could go to 14 thereafter, the company said. (Source: Bloomberg, 01/13/14) Gulf Coast note: Airbus is building an A320 final assembly line in Mobile, Ala.; Previous

Airbus beats Boeing in sales

Airbus beat Boeing with record sales and orders last year, but was second in airliners delivered. Airbus in 2013 took 1,503 net orders, allowing for cancelations, compared to 1,355 orders taken by Boeing. At the end of last year Airbus had orders to build 5,559 aircraft, equivalent to eight years of production. Results published by Boeing Jan. 6 showed that it had a total order book for 5,080 aircraft. Last year Airbus delivered 626 planes and Boeing delivered 648 aircraft. (Sources: AFP, The Guardian, Telegraph, 01/13/14) Gulf Coast note: Airbus is building an A320 final assembly line in Mobile, Ala.; Previous: Boeing has record year; Airbus beat Boeing in 2013?

Sunday, January 12, 2014

PRCC working with RR

POPLARVILLE, Miss. -- Pearl River Community College has received a $50,000 grant from the Mississippi Development Authority to support Rolls-Royce at Stennis Space Center. The funds are used to send new employees to a training center in Columbus, Ohio; the company's main test facility in Derby, England; or to training at Stennis, said Troy Teadt, PRCC workforce liaison. Rolls-Royce North America opened its first engine test site outside of the United Kingdom at SSC in 2007 and completed a second test stand in the fall of 2013. The site conducts noise, crosswind, endurance and other tests on the latest Rolls-Royce civil aircraft engines. The engines include the Trent 1000 that powers the Boeing 787 Dreamliner and the Trent XWB that powers the Airbus A350 XWB. (Source: PRCC, 01/10/14)

Cygnus berths with ISS

Orbital Sciences' Cygnus spacecraft successfully completed its rendezvous and approach maneuvers with the International Space Station and docked Sunday. Launched into orbit by Orbital's Antares rocket Jan. 9 from NASA’s Wallops Flight Facility, Cygnus is delivering 2,780 pounds of cargo. It will remain berthed at the ISS until Feb. 18. When it leaves it will take 2,800 pounds of disposable cargo for a destructive reentry over the Pacific Ocean. Under a $1.9 billion CRS contract with NASA, Orbital will use Antares and Cygnus to deliver up to 44,000 pounds of cargo to the ISS over eight missions through late 2016. (Source: Business Wire, 01/12/14) Gulf Coast note: Antares AJ26 engines are tested at Stennis Space Center, Miss. Previous

Friday, January 10, 2014

Bolden, Vitter to see SLS progress

NASA Administrator Charles Bolden and Sen. David Vitter of Louisiana will visit the agency's Michoud Assembly Facility in New Orleans Jan. 13. They will be updated on construction of the facility that will manufacture the massive core stage of NASA's Space Launch System heavy-lift rocket and progress on launching it on its targeted first flight test in 2017. SLS will be the world's largest rocket, and the Michoud Vertical Assembly Center will be home to one of the world's largest welding tools when the facility is completed in March. NASA is developing the SLS and Orion spacecraft to provide an entirely new capability for human exploration. They will expand human presence beyond low-Earth orbit and enable new missions of exploration in the solar system, including to an asteroid and Mars. (Source: PRNewswire, 01/10/14)

Audit critical of B-2 refurbish

A recently released audit criticized NASA for spending $352 million to refurbish a Mississippi test stand for Space Launch System tests when it would have cost less to revamp stands in Alabama and California. The alternate stands are at Edwards Air Force Base, Calif., and Marshall Space Flight Center in Huntsville, Ala. The audit said it would have cost $251 million to refurbish the Huntsville stand and $319 million for the Edwards stand. The audit said NASA chose B-2 because of risks associated with the other stands. In the case of Edwards, NASA was concerned over transportation risks, and with Huntsville it was concerned over noise issues. NASA responded to the audit by admitting it didn't follow its own rules and agreements, but "is confident it made the right decision." The audit from NASA Inspector General Paul Martin was released Wednesday. (Source: GCAC, 01/10/14; background al.comaudit)

Triton completes nine flights

Navy Triton tested in California.
Northrop Grumman photo
The Triton unmanned aircraft system has completed nine initial flight tests, the half-way point in a process called envelope expansion. During envelope expansion, the Northrop Grumman and Navy test team validates the aircraft's ability to operate at a range of altitudes, speeds and weights. The Triton test team accomplished endurance flights up to 9.4 hours at altitudes up to 50,000 feet. The aircraft also performed doublets, a maneuver that tests the aircraft's ability to recover from small perturbations in its flight path caused by turbulence. The flights are taking place at the company's manufacturing facility in Palmdale, Calif. Completion of envelope expansion will allow the test team to prepare for installation and further testing of Triton's surveillance sensors.  The Navy plans to field 68 Tritons. (Source: Northrop Grumman, 01/06/14) Gulf Coast note: Central fuselage work on the Triton is done in Moss Point, Miss.

SLS avionics see first light

HUNTSVILLE, Ala. -- The avionics system that will guide NASA's Space Launch System, the most powerful rocket ever built, has seen the light. The flight software and avionics for SLS were integrated and powered for testing Thursday at NASA's Marshall Space Flight Center in Huntsville as part of a milestone known as first light. It enables early integration and testing of avionics and software to help NASA perfect the system and ensure the units communicate together as designed. Avionics tell the rocket where it should fly and how it should pivot its engines to stay on course. (Source: NASA, 01/09/14) Gulf Coast note: Stennis Space Center, Miss., tests engines for the SLS; Michoud Assembly Facility, New Orleans, is building portions of the SLS.

Thursday, January 9, 2014

Hurlburt general fired

HURLBURT FIELD, Fla. -- A brigadier general has been fired in the wake of allegations of an inappropriate personal relationship. Brig. Gen. Jon Weeks was relieved as commander of the Air Force Special Operations Warfare Center on Thursday. Gen. Eric Fiel, head of Air Force Special Operations Command at Hurlburt, said he made the decision based on preliminary information from the ongoing investigation. The warfare center, headquartered at Hurlburt, has operations at Duke Field, Cannon Air Force Base, N.M., and Robins Air Force Base, Ga. (Source: Northwest Florida Daily News, WEAR-TV, 01/09/14)

Antares/Cygnus take off

Orbital Sciences launched its unmanned Cygnus cargo ship on the company's first regular supply mission to the International Space Station. The liftoff of the Antares rocket carrying Cygnus was Thursday afternoon from Wallops Island, Va. Cygnus is due to dock at the ISS on Sunday, only the fifth mooring of a private vessel to the station. The first was SpaceX's Dragon in May 2012. The launch is Orbital's second trip to the ISS, following a successful demonstration launch in September. (Source: Space Travel, 01/09/14) Previous Gulf Coast note: The Antares AJ26 engines are tested at Stennis Space Center, Miss.

Colonel tapped for promotion

Col. Robert G. Armfield of Hurlburt Field, Fla., has been nominated for appointment to the rank of brigadier general, Pentagon officials said Thursday. Armfield is currently serving as the commander, 24th Special Operations Wing, Air Force Special Operations Command, Hurlburt Field. The appointment was among 31 named in a release from Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel. (Source: DoD, 01/09/13)

Hangar fatality identified

EGLIN AIR FORCE BASE, Fla. -- Defense Support Services (DS2) today released the identity of its employee who died in a hangar incident Wednesday. Jonathan Lord, 31, died following an incident at King Hangar when the fire suppression system dispensed foam. Lord was a tool and parts attendant with DS2 and had been a contract employee at Eglin since 2006. A resident of Valparaiso, he is survived by his wife and one child. Three other DS2 employees were treated and released. (Source: 96th Test Wing Public Affairs, 01/09/13) Previous

Joint venture orders A320

Singapore Airlines has chosen the Airbus A320 to launch its new Indian joint venture with Tata Sons, a win over rival Boeing in Asia's third biggest economy. Sources familiar with the decision said a project team picked Airbus over Boeing's 737, the aircraft ordered by low-cost operator SpiceJet to expand its fleet in a deal reported by Reuters on Tuesday. (Source: Reuters, 01/09/14) Gulf Coast note: The A320 market is of interest to Mobile, Ala., where Airbus is building an A320 final assembly line.

Busted pipe causes flight delays

PENSACOLA, Fla. -- A ruptured fire sprinkler water pipe over the main concourse at Pensacola International Airport caused delays in boarding passengers Wednesday afternoon. Airport spokeswoman Belinda Zephir said the flooding affected the carpeting from gates 3 through 10 but was cleaned up by work crews. Boarding passengers were redirected to other gates, resulting in delays of up to 20 minutes. (Source: Pensacola News Journal, 01/09/14)

One dead in Eglin hangar accident

EGLIN AIR FORCE BASE, Fla. -- A civilian contractor died and three others were injured Wednesday afternoon after the fire suppression system in 90,000 square-foot King Hangar released an unknown amount of foam. Officials are investigating the cause of the death and the accident, which occurred around noon. The contractors worked for Defense Support Services (DS2), which provides support services to Department of Defense equipment and facilities. There were five aircraft in the hangar at the time. The injured contractors were treated for inhalation problems, according to a news release from the Eglin. Two were treated on base and released and the third was taken to White-Wilson Medical Center. (Sources: Northwest Florida Daily News, WEAR-TV, 01/08/14)

Wednesday, January 8, 2014

Antares/Cygnus launch delayed

Rough space weather forced Orbital Sciences to postpone Wednesday's launch of its unmanned Cygnus spacecraft on its first regular contract flight to supply the International Space Station. The Cygnus spacecraft had been set to take off from Wallops Island, Va., atop an Antares rocket. But a solar flare caused increased levels of space radiation that might have damaged the spacecraft's electronics. Orbital has a contract with NASA worth $1.9 billion for eight cargo resupply missions to the ISS. Orbital and SpaceX, both private companies, stepped in to ensure the United States' ability to reach the ISS after the retirement of the space shuttle program in 2011. The launch will mark the company's second trip to the ISS. There was a successful demonstration launch in September. (Sources: Space Travel, NASA Spaceflight, 01/08/14) Gulf Coast note: The Antares AJ26 engines are tested at Stennis Space Center, Miss. Previous

Experimental plane soars

PENSACOLA, Fla. -- The experimental Thatcher CX5, a two-seat plane designed by Pensacola's Dave Thatcher, made its initial flight in December at Jack Edwards Airport in Gulf Shores, Ala. Flown by test pilot Glen Bradley, the plane is powered by a modified Volkswagen engine. Once test flights are finished, the Thatcher CX5 will return to Pensacola International Airport, where the plane was built in a private hangar. Thatcher plans to sell plans for the CX5 after tests are finished for about $475. Thatcher sold 574 plans for his CX4, a single-seat plane he designed. (Source: Pensacola News Journal, 01/08/14)

Gov: Boeing used Alabama?

BIRMINGHAM, Ala. -- Gov. Robert Bentley said Wednesday that Boeing might have used Alabama as leverage during union negotiations in Washington state. But he said Alabama, which proposed Huntsville, would have been in the top three states competing for a new Boeing plant had the manufacturer not reached a deal with the union. "When I met with them the first time, I said, 'Are you using us to get a positive vote out of the union or are you truly serious about moving?'" Bentley said. "We were the first state that they had met with and they said they were truly serious about moving." (Source:, 01/08/14) Previouscolumn

Tuesday, January 7, 2014

McArtor to replace O'Keefe

Allan McArtor, chairman of Airbus Americas, will replace Sean O'Keefe as chairman and chief executive officer of Airbus Group Inc., the company's North American business unit, when O'Keefe resigns March 1, 2014. In his new capacity, McArtor will be a member of the Airbus Group Executive Committee, the company's top decision-making body. O'Keefe elected to step down in order to fully address ongoing medical issues due to injuries he sustained in a 2010 aircraft accident in Alaska. However, he will continue with the company on special assignment to oversee and facilitate the compliant transition of the company’s ongoing security agreement with the Department of Defense to the new U.S. Group structure. The company, best known for its commercial jets, recently changed its name to Airbus Group from the European Aeronautic Defence and Space Co., EADS. The new Airbus Group will feature divisions called Airbus, Airbus Defence and Space, and Airbus Helicopters. Airbus will focus on commercial aircraft and Airbus Defense and Space will integrate its Cassidian, Astrium and Airbus Military businesses. Airbus Helicopters is a direct name change from Eurocopter. (Source: Airbus Group, 01/07/13) Previous McArtorGulf Coast note: Airbus is building an A320 final assembly line in Mobile, Ala., at Brookley Aeroplex, where it also has an engineering center. It also has an operation at Mobile Regional Airport; American Eurocopter has an assembly facility in Columbus, Miss.

Monday, January 6, 2014

SpaceX launches satellite

CAPE CANAVERAL, Fla. -- SpaceX's Falcon 9 rocket took off at 5:06 p.m. EST from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station on Monday to put a commercial communications spacecraft into orbit for Thai satellite operator Thaicom. The satellite, built by Orbital Sciences Corp., was deployed about a half-hour after the launch. Monday's launch was the second in just over a month for Space Exploration Technologies. (Sources: NBC News, USA Today, 01/06/14) Gulf Coast note: Orbital Sciences tests its AJ26 rocket engines at Stennis Space Center, Miss., where SpaceX plans to test its new generation Raptor engines. Previous

F-22s arrive at Tyndall

TYNDALL AIR FORCE BASE, Fla. -- Lt. Col. Erick Gilbert landed the first of five F-22 Raptors at the new home of the 95th Fighter Squadron. The five planes that arrived Monday from Holloman Air Force Base in New Mexico are the first of 24 Raptors that will be based at Tyndall. The remaining planes will arrive by the end of April; at that point, more than 50 Raptors will be stationed at the base. The arrival symbolizes an expansion of Tyndall's mission into combat operations for the 95th Fighter Squadron, a first in Tyndall’s history. (Source: News Herald, 01/06/14, 325th Fighter Wing Public Affairs, 01/07/14) Previous

Airbus beat Boeing in 2013?

Europe's Airbus beat U.S. rival Boeing in 2013 in their annual fight over orders. Boeing earlier reported 1,531 gross commercial airplane orders for 2013, or 1,355 net orders after subtracting cancellations. Airbus booked more orders in both categories, the sources said, speaking on condition of anonymity, without giving more details. The European company delivered over 625 aircraft in 2013, beating its target of up to 620 but lagging Boeing's total of 648 deliveries, one source said. Airbus declined to comment ahead of an annual news conference on January 13. (Source: Reuters, 01/06/14) Previous

Pilot unhurt in emergency landing

MOSS POINT, Miss. -- A small plane made an emergency landing near Trent Lott International Airport Monday evening, but the pilot was not injured. Jackson County Emergency Services officials said the pilot was traveling from St. Elmo, Ala., and was landing at Trent Lott Airport to refuel, but he lost power and set down in a field northeast of the airport. The aircraft was a Russian-made single-engine plane. (Source: Mississippi Press, 01/06/14)

Florida lands secret space plane

A secretive military space plane will move into a vacant former space shuttle hangar at Kennedy Space Center, Fla., possibly bringing hundreds of jobs. Using the Orbiter Processing Facility-1 will allow the Air Force's classified X-37B program to land, recover, refurbish and re-launch the unmanned system in Florida, according to Boeing, which built and supports the program's two orbital vehicles. U.S. Sen. Bill Nelson said Friday that the program would mean "hundreds" of jobs, first to renovate OPF-1 and then from Boeing's engineering, technician and support team. Officials did not say how soon the military program could move to KSC, which has been seeking new users for facilities it no longer needs following the shuttle's 2011 retirement. (Source: Florida Today, 01/05/14) Previous Gulf Coast note: NASA's Stennis Space Center, Miss., also offers unused/underutilized facilities for commercial use.

Boeing has record year

SEATTLE -- Boeing set a company record in 2013 for the most commercial airplanes delivered in a single year with 648. Boeing's unfilled commercial orders stood at 5,080 at the end of the year, also a new Boeing record. Boeing also booked 1,531 gross commercial orders in 2013, a new company record and 1,355 net commercial orders in 2013, the second-largest number in company history. In 2013, three programs set records for deliveries in a single year, including the 737 program, which delivered 440 next-generation 737s. (Source: Boeing, 01/06/14) Gulf Coast note: Boeing has operations in the Gulf Coast I-10 region; Boeing's competitor, Airbus, is building a final assembly line in Mobile, Ala., for the A320, which competes with the 737.

Saturday, January 4, 2014

F-22s to arrive Monday

TYNDALL AIR FORCE BASE, Fla. – The first of two dozen F-22 Raptors will begin arriving at Tyndall Air Force Base Monday. When all the jets arrive Tyndall will be home of the largest contingent of Raptors in the world, with both a training and operational missions. The addition of the combat mission was announced in October 2012, but in January 2013 the Air Force announced the arrival of the F-22s would be delayed a year. The five jets coming Monday are the first of 24 that are being transferred from Holloman Air Force Base, N.M. (Source: News Herald, 01/03/14)

Union OKs contract, keeps 777X

Union members in Washington State on Friday approved the latest contract offer from Boeing, a decision that ensure the company's 777X aircraft and its composite wings are built in the Puget Sound area. The work includes the fuselage build, final assembly and major components fabrication, such as interiors and wires.Members of the International Association of Machinists and Aerospace Workers District 751 approved the eight-year contract extension offer after rejecting the initial contract offer in November. That initial rejection launched Boeing on a nationwide search for alternate sites, including Huntsville, Ala. Union leadership also rejected a new contract offer in December, but members demanded to vote on the offer. (Source: Boeing, 01/04/13) Previous

SpaceX launch delayed

The year's first launch from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station, Fla., is now planned for no earlier than Monday. SpaceX had hoped to launch its Falcon 9 rocket around 5 p.m. Friday carrying a Thai commercial communications satellite. But the decision was made to conduct more rocket inspections. If necessary, launch attempts could also be made next Wednesday through Sunday. (Source: USA Today, 01/03/14) Previous Gulf Coast note: SpaceX plans to test its Raptor engines at Stennis Space Center, Miss.

Friday, January 3, 2014

5% aerospace, defense growth seen

The aerospace and defense industry will grow 5 percent globally in 2014, despite the budget pressures to the defense sector. That’s according to a study from Deloitte. "It is likely that 2014 will bring high single to double-digit levels of growth in the commercial aerospace sub-sector, as experienced in 2012 and expected in 2013, given the dramatic production forecasts of the aircraft manufacturers," said the study. Commercial aerospace is a bright spot. The 2014 growth in the commercial aerospace industry is being driven by record-setting production levels, due to the accelerated replacement cycle of obsolete aircraft with newer fuel-efficient planes. The report predicts that by 2023, annual production levels in the commercial aerospace industry will increase by 25 percent. (Source: The Hill, 01/02/13) Gulf Coast note: Aerospace and defense are pillars of the region's economy.

Tower funding still in limbo

WEST BAY, Fla. -- Funding for the Northwest Florida Beaches International Airport control tower is still in limbo. But continued funding is looking good for the Federal Aviation Administration's contract tower program, in which the airport participates. "Right now, it looks like things are moving forward," said Airport Director Parker McClellan, noting language in both the Senate and House budget bills in support of the program, which costs about $150 million annually. (Source: News Herald, 01/02/14)

Thursday, January 2, 2014

SpaceX set to launch satellite

SpaceX is scheduled to launch from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station, Fla., Friday evening with a communications satellite. The launch of the upgraded Falcon 9 would be SpaceX's second in a month from the Cape of a commercial communications satellite. The previous one was Dec. 3. This time the customer is Thailand-based Thaicom. (Source: Florida Today, 01/02/13) Gulf Coast note: SpaceX will test its Raptor engine at Stennis Space Center, Miss.