Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Gorgon Stare gets thumbs up

The Air Force's wide-area surveillance sensor, Gorgon Stare, is performing with at least a 90 percent availability rate in Afghanistan and has been well-received by commanders in the field. "The combatant commanders love it," Lt. Gen. Larry James, the chief of USAF intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance, told IHS Jane’s in an April 18 interview. More than two years ago a Department of Defense report blasted the Sierra Nevada-made sensor, intended to provide 'city-size' images taken twice per second. It received a poor operational assessment from testers at Eglin Air Force Base, Fla. (Source: IHS Jane’s, 04/30/13) Previous

B-2 being prepped for SLS

Duel position B-1/B-2 stand.
NASA/SSC photo
STENNIS SPACE CENTER, Miss. -- Before NASA's new Space Launch System (SLS) flies to space on its inaugural mission in 2017, it will fly in place at Stennis Space Center, Miss. The B-2 Test Stand at Stennis, originally built to test the Saturn rocket stages that propelled humans to the Moon, is being renovated to test the SLS core stage in late 2016 and early 2017. When ready, the SLS stage, with four RS-25 rocket engines, will be installed on the stand for propellant fill and drain testing and two hot fire tests. The site's engineers spent 18 months assessing the cost of the work needed to upgrade the B-2 Test Stand from Apollo- and space shuttle-era testing specifications. After NASA made the decision to proceed, engineers began the first of three project phases. NASA is developing the SLS to send humans to asteroids and Mars. The SLS, once operational, will launch NASA's Orion spacecraft from Kennedy Space Center in Florida. The first test flight of SLS will be in 2017, when the rocket will send an unmanned Orion spacecraft around the Moon. (Sources: Astronomy, Space Fellowship, 04/29/13)

Nepal getting two A320s

Nepal Airlines signed a deal with Airbus to buy two A320 aircraft equipped with sharklet fuel-saving wing tips. The deal is valued at $183 million at catalogue prices. Nepal Airlines, founded in 1958, currently flies to four international destinations and 25 domestic airports in the heart of the Himalayas. Last week Airbus announced an $8 billion deal to provide 60 planes to China Aviation Supplies Holding Co. (Sources: al.com, hindu business line, 04/29/13) Previous

Monday, April 29, 2013

GE Aviation opens plants

ELLISVILLE, Miss. -- Gov. Phil Bryant and GE Aviation President/CEO David Joyce will be on hand Tuesday for the grand opening of the company's new 340,000-square-foot aviation components factory in Ellisville, northeast of Hattiesburg. The event is in the Howard Technology Park. The company expects to hire 250 workers within five years to make composite parts for aircraft engines and systems. GE Aviation is investing $56 million in the plant to meet growing aerospace demand. The state is providing $8 million in incentives. The plant originally was to be 300,000 square feet to 340,000 square feet. (Source: Hattiesburg American, 04/28/13) GE Aviation also officially opened on Monday a $50 million facility in Auburn, Ala., that will make parts for jet engines. It’s in Auburn Technology Park West. GE Aviation also has a plant in Batesville, Miss.

Exelis tapped for MK 105

VAN NUYS, Calif. -- ITT Exelis has been awarded a contract valued at more than $10 million to provide one MK 105 Mod 4 airborne minesweeping system for the Naval Surface Warfare Center Panama City Division in Panama City, Fla. Introduced to the Navy fleet in 1972, the Exelis MK 105 system has been used in every major mine-clearance operation. The Navy's MH-53E Sea Dragon helicopter tows the system through the water, and twin magnetic tails, consisting of open-electrode magnetic sweeps, are towed behind the sled, detonating mines to clear the water for vessels. The work will be done in Panama City by the Exelis radar, reconnaissance and undersea systems business area, which designs and develops integrated minesweeping systems for the U.S. and allied navies. (Source: Business Wire, 04/29/13)

Friday, April 26, 2013

China buying Airbus jetliners

China Aviation Supplies Holding Co. (CAS) signed a deal with Airbus for 60 aircraft. Airbus said the deal includes 18 wide-body A330s and 42 single-aisle A320s. The deal is worth at least $7.7 billion based on list prices. The A320's high reliability and low operational cost has appealed to Chinese airlines, while the A330 offers a solution to airport congestion in large Chinese cities as larger planes can carry more passengers with fewer flights, said Fabrice Bregier, president and chief executive officer of Airbus. As of the end of March, there were some 750 A320 aircraft in operation with 14 airlines in China and more than 110 A330 planes in service with six air carriers. (Sources: Reuters, Xinhua, 04/25/13) Gulf Coast note: Airbus is building an A320 final assembly line in  Mobile, Ala.

Bolden: SLS on track

WASHINGTON – NASA Administrator Charles Bolden reassured lawmakers Thursday that the agency isn't foot-dragging on developing a rocket to take astronauts into deep space. "We need a 70 metric-ton vehicle and we are on schedule, on target and on cost," Bolden told members of the Senate Appropriations subcommittee that oversees NASA funding. NASA is asking for $17.7 billion for fiscal 2014, which begins Oct. 1. That includes $2.73 billion to develop the Space Launch System (SLS) consisting of an Orion multi-purpose crewed vehicle and the deep-space rocket that will carry it. (Source: Florida Today, 04/25/13) Gulf Coast note: SLS rocket engines are tested at Stennis Space Center, Miss; Orion is built in part at Michoud Assembly Facility, New Orleans, which will also build the core stage of SLS.

Thursday, April 25, 2013

Airport, BP settle

PANAMA CITY, Fla. – When the Deepwater Horizon exploded in April 2010, officials at Northwest Florida Beaches International Airport in West Bay were preparing for a grand opening. Now three years later, the airport board put the oil spill in the past Wednesday by accepting a $5.98 million economic-loss settlement from BP instead of seeking litigation. Airport Attorney Franklin Harrison expects ECP to receive the check no later than May 1. (Source: Panama City News Herald, 04/24/13)

Residents may hear exercise

PANAMA CITY, Fla. -- Air Force Special Operations Command is hosting a field exercise to train forces in combat scenarios through May 3. Training events will take place in parts of Liberty, Calhoun and Franklin counties, but may spill into Bay County airspace. Most of the exercises will be at night, said a military spokesman. In addition to hearing aircraft noise at night, residents may also hear simulated munitions fire. (Source: Panama City News Herald, 04/24/13)

Orders for 60 F-35s eyed

Lockheed Martin may receive a $9 billion U.S. order in June for 60 F-35 jets, consolidating the sixth and seven production contracts, said the Pentagon’s program manager. The number of F-35s may rise to as many as 71 if orders from other nations are included. Some of the money for the next group of fighters already has been obligated, sparing those funds from the across-the board reductions of sequestration. The F-35’s estimated cost for a fleet of 2,443 aircraft has risen to $395.7 billion, up 70 percent from $233 billion in 2001 in current dollars. Air Force Lieutenant General Christopher Bogdan, manager of the Pentagon's F-35 program, has pressed Lockheed Martin to do a better job containing costs. He gave a generally upbeat assessment of the F-35’s progress. Frank Kendall, the Pentagon's chief weapons buyer, said he feels "much more comfortable" about the F-35 program than he did a year and a half ago. (Source: Bloomberg, 04/24/13) Gulf Coast note: Eglin Air Force Base, Fla., is home of the F-35 training center.

Hyatt Place at airport opens

PENSACOLA, Fla. -- The new 127-room Hyatt Place Hotel Pensacola Airport is now open. More than 200 people turned out for the grand opening Wednesday. Developed by Innisfree Hotel owner Julian MacQueen, the hotel is adjacent to the airport on land leased through a long-term contract. The hotel's interior is themed around the city's Five Flags history and extensive aviation activities. Airport Director Greg Donovan said the Hyatt's amenities are "exclusive to Pensacola International." The hotel is projected to generate over $420,000 annually in non-airline revenue for the airport through lease fees, and $100,000 in local option sales taxes for the city. It will also create over $4 million in payroll revenues through 235 new jobs. (Sources: WEAR-TV, Pensacola News Journal, 04/24/13) It's the 18th Hyatt Place branded property in Florida. (Source: TravelWorld.com, 04/10/13)

Wednesday, April 24, 2013

Jets retired from displays

PANAMA CITY, Fla. -- Two F-101 Voodoo jets are being removed from their display perches at the city marina and Gulf Coast State College. There was a ceremony Wednesday marking the occasion. The jets will be disassembled and taken by the Air Force to a temporary storage location. The jets are being moved to make way for redevelopment and because of the cost of ongoing maintenance. The F-101 Voodoos were originally designed as deep penetration bomber escorts, but later served a reconnaissance role. (Source: Panama City News Herald, 04/24/13)

Key F-35 data link tested

The Multifunction Advanced Data Link (MADL) waveform was successfully demonstrated in an F-35 flight test, validating an eight-year development effort. MADL, provided by Northrop Grumman's F-35 integrated communications, navigation and identification (CNI) avionics, provides pilots the equivalent capability of more than 27 avionics subsystems. The F-35 CNI avionics on two F-35 aircraft established the MADL link between two airborne platforms for the first time. Data passed between aircraft via MADL was correlated with data from other F-35 sensors by Lockheed Martin's fusion system to form a simplified situational awareness picture on the cockpit displays. Northrop Grumman, part of the Lockheed Martin F-35 team, also produces the center fuselage; designed and produces the radar and electro-optical subsystem; develops mission systems and mission planning software; leads the team's development of pilot and maintenance training system courseware; and manages the team's use, support and maintenance of low-observable technologies. (Source: Northrop Grumman, PRNewswire, 04/23/13) Gulf Coast ties: The F-35 training center is at Eglin Air Force Base, Fla.

Tuesday, April 23, 2013

NASA awards contractors

Pratt and Whitney Rocketdyne of East Hartford, Conn., is NASA's large business prime contractor of the year and A2Research of Huntsville, Ala., is the agency's small business prime contractor of the year. The awards were presented Tuesday by NASA Administrator Charles Bolden in Washington. (Source: al.com, NASA, 04/23/13) Gulf Coast note: At Stennis Space Center, Miss., A2Research performs test stand calibration and support and Pratt & Whitney Rocketdyne tests rocket engines. The Mississippi Enterprise for Technology's March-April newsletter mentions A2Research in a feature story.

Tyndall cutting 14 positions

TYNDALL AIR FORCE BASE, Fla. -- The Air Force will trim 16,000 civilian employees from its ranks, but only a few will come from Tyndall Air Force Base. Herman Bell, chief of Tyndall's 325th Fighter Wing Public Affairs, said there are about 14 civilian employees that may be impacted, and they'll likely be lost through attrition. The Defense Department announced last week the civilian force at about 60 Air Force installations would be impacted by a reduction in force. Officials pointed out the reductions are not part of the sequestration cuts, which would come later. (Source: Panama City News Herald, 04/22/13) Previous related: RIF impacts AF, Eglin; Keesler budget cut 20 percent

RR, Safran agree on RTM322

Rolls-Royce today said it reached agreement to sell its shareholding and interest in the RTM322 helicopter engine program to Turbomeca, a Safran company. Rolls-Royce's 50 percent interest in the engine program will be progressively transferred to Turbomeca, which will then hold 100 percent of the program. The RTM322 engine powers the Apache, EH101 Merlin and NH90 helicopters. The RRTM Adour engine program, which powers Hawk and Jaguar aircraft, is unaffected by the agreement, as are the other helicopter engine programs in the Rolls-Royce portfolio. The sale is expected to complete before year end, subject to closing conditions. (Source: Rolls-Royce, 04/23/13) Gulf Coast ties: Rolls-Royce has its outdoor jet engine test facility at Stennis Space Center, Miss.; Safran this month opened an engineering office at Brookley Aeroplex in Mobile, Ala.

J-2X: Steering to the future

April 4 record test. NASA/SSC photo
STENNIS SPACE CENTER, Miss. -- Engineers developing NASA's next-generation rocket closed one chapter of testing with the completion of a J-2X engine test series on the A-2 test stand at the agency's Stennis Space Center in Mississippi. Now begins the new chapter of full motion testing on test stand A-1. The J-2X will drive the second stage of the 143-ton heavy-lift version of the Space Launch System. The rocket will provide an entirely new capability for human exploration and send humans in NASA's Orion spacecraft into deep space. J-2X engine 10002 was fired for the last time on the A-2 test stand April 17. This engine set a duration record for J-2X engine firings at Stennis' A-2 test stand on April 4 when it fired for 570 seconds, beating the previous mark set less than a month earlier on March 7, when the same engine ran for 560 seconds. This is the second J-2X engine Stennis has test fired. Last year, test conductors put the first developmental J-2X engine, called 10001, through its paces. According to J-2X managers, both performed extremely well. When the engine is eventually used in space, it will need to be able to move to help steer the rocket. (Source: NASA, 04/22/13, Pratt and Whitney Rocketdyne via PRNewswire, 04/24/13)

Monday, April 22, 2013

RR wins IAG Trent order

Rolls-Royce won a $1.6 billion order from International Airlines Group (IAG) for Trent XWB engines to power 18 Airbus A350-1000 aircraft. In addition, IAG has placed options for a further 18 A350 aircraft. The A350-1000 aircraft is powered exclusively by the higher-thrust version of the Trent XWB. The engine, specifically designed for the A350 XWB, is the fastest selling Trent engine ever with more than 1,200 sold. (Source: Rolls-Royce, 04/22/13) Gulf Coast ties: Rolls-Royce Outdoor Jet Engine Test Facility at Stennis Space Center tests Trent series of Rolls-Royce engines, including the XWB; the thrust reverser for the XWB was built by Goodrich, since purchased by United Technologies. It has a service center in Foley, Ala; Airbus will be building A320 jetliners in Mobile, Ala.

Vice commander retires

KEESLER AIR FORCE BASE, Miss. -- Col. Andrew Cain, 2nd Air Force vice commander, retired with 30 years of military service Friday at the Bay Breeze Event Center. Maj. Gen. Len Patrick, 2nd Air Force commander, was the presiding officer for the event. (Source: Keesler AFB, 04/22/13)

Contract: Northrop, $35.7M

Northrop Grumman Systems Corp., Aerospace Systems Sector, San Diego, Calif., is being awarded a $35,696,841 contract modification for Global Hawk engineering and manufacturing development. The total cumulative face value of the multi-year contract is $2,297,747,550. Work will be performed at San Diego, Calif., and is expected to be completed by January 2017. Air Force Life Cycle Management Center/WIGK, Wright-Patterson Air Force Base, Ohio is the contracting activity. (Source: DoD, 04/22/13) Gulf Coast note: Fuselage work on Global Hawks is done in Moss Point, Miss.

Sunday, April 21, 2013

Antares has successful launch

Antares takes off Sunday. NASA photo
The 133-foot tall Antares rocket built by Orbital Sciences launched from the Virginia coast Sunday, setting the stage for space station cargo delivery missions starting later this year. The rocket launched from the Mid-Atlantic Regional Spaceport adjacent to NASA's Wallops Island Flight Center. Three minutes and 50 seconds after liftoff, the two first-stage Aerojet AJ26 engines shut down as planned and the first stage fell away. A solid-fuel second stage ATK Castor-30B motor ignited to continue the push to space. Orbital hopes to have a demonstration flight in June or July using a Cygnus cargo capsule that will carry about a ton of equipment and supplies to the International Space Station. SpaceX was the first commercial company to successfully resupply the ISS. The addition of Antares bodes well for NASA's Commercial Orbital Transportation Services established in 2006 with the retirement of the space shuttle. (Source: CBSNews, NASA, 04/21/13) Gulf Coast note: AJ26 engines are tested at Stennis Space Center, Miss.

Saturday, April 20, 2013

Chamber picks new director

MOBILE, Ala. -- The executive director of the Mobile Airport Authority will succeed Win Hallett as president of the Mobile Area Chamber of Commerce. Bill Sisson, who has led the airport authority since 2008, is the former vice president of economic development for the chamber. Hallett is retiring after 22 years leading the chamber. Chamber Chairman Mike Saxon said Sisson is "absolutely the right person for the job at the right time." Hallett will stay on at the chamber until a replacement for Sisson at the airport authority is found, officials said. (Source: al.com, 04/19/13)

Leaders heading to Germany

MOBILE, Ala. -- Business leaders will go to Hamburg, Germany, this weekend to learn more about the impact an Airbus assembly plant on a community. Ginny Russell, vice president of community and governmental affairs for the Mobile Area Chamber of Commerce, said 86 delegates from the Mobile area will arrive in Germany by Sunday. All participants paid their own expenses, she said. Participants include officers from banks, engineering and construction firms, shipping concerns, human resource companies, the Port of Alabama and the Mobile Airport Authority, to name a few. (Source: al.com, 04/19/13)

Doolittle Raiders honored

FORT WALTON BEACH, Fla. -- The extraordinary service of 80 men was remembered Thursday at the tribute to the Doolittle Raiders on the 71st anniversary of the Army Air Force squadron's flight from a Navy aircraft carrier to bomb Japan during World War II. At a luncheon held at the Northwest Florida Fairgrounds in Fort Walton Beach, Rear Adm. Don Quinn, commander, Naval Education and Training Command in Pensacola, Fla., addressed more than 600 people who had come to honor the remaining Raiders. Four are still living and three attended the events scheduled over several days in Fort Walton Beach, including luncheons, dinners and a parade. Raiders present included Lt. Col. Richard Cole, co-pilot with Col. Jimmy Doolittle; Staff Sgt. David Thatcher, an engineer and gunner on crew 7; and Lt. Col. Edward Saylor, engineer for crew 15. The fourth Raider who was unable to attend is Lt. Col. Robert Hite, co-pilot of crew 16. (Source: NNS, 04/19/13) Previous

Friday, April 19, 2013

Antares to launch Saturday

The test flight of a new private cargo-carrying rocket will come no earlier than Saturday afternoon due to weather delays and a technical glitch. Private aerospace firm Orbital Sciences Corp. wanted to fly the two-stage Antares rocket Wednesday from Virginia's Mid-Atlantic Regional Spaceport on Wallops Island, but a data cable separated from the booster and forced a delay. Orbital then tried for Friday but weather got in the way. (Source: Space.com, 04/19/13) Gulf Coast note: The AJ26 engines that power Antares are tested at Stennis Space Center, Miss. Previous

Contract: L-3 Vertex, $45.2M

L-3 Vertex Aerospace LLC, Madison, Miss., is being awarded a not-to-exceed $45,202,205 firm-fixed-price contract modification to extend FA8I06-IO-C-0012 for 12 months for contractor logistic support for the Iraqi Air Force C208 and C172 aircraft and for maintenance students training on both aircraft without a break in service. Work will be performed at Tikrit Air Base, Iraq, and work is expected to be completed by April 20, 2014. The contract involves foreign military sales. The contracting activity is Air Force Life Cycle Management Center/WLKLC, Tinker Air Force Base, Okla. (Source: DoD, 04/19/13)

Florida limits drone use

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. -- Florida is the newest state to pass legislation restricting the use of unmanned aerial vehicles by local or state agencies except in cooperation with investigations authorized by the Department of Homeland Security or in short-term emergencies. The bill, unanimously passed by the House, prevents law enforcement use of drones unless a judge has issued a warrant or in cases where there is a "high risk of terrorist attack," or a case of imminent danger. The Senate passed the bill a week ago. Virginia has also put restrictions on drone use by police, as have the cities of Seattle and Charlottesville, Va. (Sources: The Florida Current, 04/17/13, The News Service of Florida via Pensacola News Journal, 04/18/13)

Thursday, April 18, 2013

Combat Talons fly for last time

Final flight of Combat Talons. Air Force photo
DUKE FIELD, Fla. – The Air Force's last four MC-130E Combat Talon I's had their final mission from their home at Duke Field on April 15. The Talons will be officially retired in a ceremony at Duke Field on April 25 and the aircraft will then be flown to the boneyard at Davis-Monthan Air Force Base, Ariz. April 25 commemorates the 33rd anniversary of the Desert One mission to free the hostages from Iran. Several of the MC-130E's at Duke Field took part in that mission. In the final mission, the four Talons took off as two two-ships carrying more than 40 of the wing's airmen who had a long association with the Talons and wanted to be a part of the historic final flight. The retirement of the Talons are steps in the transition to the new Aviation Foreign Internal Defense mission for Air Force Special Operations Command. More than five of the wing's new aircraft, the C-145A, are already on the Duke flightline. (Source: 919th Special Operations Wing Public Affairs, 04/18/13)

RIF impacts AF, Eglin

EGLIN AIR FORCE BASE, Fla. -- Ten civilians will be affected by a civilian Reduction in Force, scheduled to go into effect Aug. 23. Of the 10 civilians, seven are assigned to the 96th Test Wing and three to tenant organizations. About 1,000 positions Air Force wide at 60 installations are affected by workforce shaping. (Source: Eglin Public Affairs, 04/18/13)

Antares launch rescheduled

Orbital Sciences said the next attempt to test launch its Antares rocket from NASA's Wallops Flight Facility, Wallops Island, Va., will be no earlier than Friday. Orbital Science is one of the commercial companies chosen by NASA to shuttle cargo to the International Space Station. This will be the first launch of the two-stage Antares, which was to have launched Wednesday until a data cable popped loose and forced a delay. The plan is to hit an orbit of 155 miles. (Source: Space Travel, Space.com 04/18/13) Gulf Coast note: The Aerojet AJ26 rocket engines that power Antares are tested at Stennis Space Center, Miss.

Tyndall pilot to be No. 1 Thunderbird

TYNDALL AIR FORCE BASE, Fla. -- Tyndall's Lt. Col. Matthew "Pipper" Bradley, 83rd Fighter Weapons Squadron operations director, has been selected to be Thunderbird No. 1. Bradley will be joining the team in 2014, the 61st year of the Air Force's flight demonstration team. In his current job, Bradley is in charge of planning visits from 30 squadrons to Tyndall each year. The squadrons come for two weeks to shoot missiles and scrimmage with drones as part of Combat Archer. Bradley has logged more than 1,300 flying hours in the F-15C Eagle, but as Thunderbird No. 1, he'll be flying the F-16C Fighting Falcon and will also be in the commanding position in the team. (Source: 325th Fighter Wing Public Affairs, 04/18/13)

Airbus seeks facilities manager

MOBILE, Ala. -- Airbus is seeking a facilities manager for the assembly line being built in Mobile. Minimum requirements include an associates degree and at least five years of facility management experience, but preference will be given to candidates with a bachelors and five years supervisory experience. Ground was broken April 8 on the plant at Brookley Aeroplex that will eventually employ 1,000 people and produce A320 jetliners. (Source: al.com, 04/17/13)

Keesler budget cut 20 percent

BILOXI, Miss. -- The commander at Keesler Air Force Base said the base will ground planes and reduce training to deal with a 20 percent reduction in its budget caused by sequestration. Brig. Gen. Brad Spacy, commander of the 81st Training Wing, said Tuesday during the Biloxi Chamber's "Morning Call" that a third of the fleet will be parked and long-term maintenance on planes will be cut by 18 percent. (Source: Sun Herald, 04/16/13)

Wednesday, April 17, 2013

NASA eyes smaller workforce

NASA anticipates a slightly smaller civil servant workforce, facility consolidations and less spending on consultants, according to the agency's proposed 2014 budget. The goal is a civil servant workforce of 17,700, a cut of about 275 and a target NASA plans to achieve with buyouts that will permit NASA to continue some hiring young engineers, scientists and other specialists. Of the agency's centers, Johnson Space Center in Houston, which manages International Space Station operations and leads development of the Orion Multi-Purpose Crew Vehicle, would be the top recipient of 2014 funding among the centers with $4.5 billion. Stennis Space Center, Miss., which hosts much of the agency's propulsion testing, would receive the least, $182 million. Personnel declines would be distributed evenly. SSC, the center with the fewest civil servants, would fall by five to 313. (Source: Aviation Week, 04/15/13)

X-47B aerial refuel demo axed

Plans to demonstrate autonomous aerial refueling of the Northrop Grumman X-47B unmanned combat air system demonstrator (UCAS-D) have been axed from the Navy’s fiscal 2014 budget. The X-47B was to have conducted Navy probe-and-drogue and Air Force boom-and-receptacle refueling tests in 2014. Refueling tests were to follow the main demonstration of unmanned aircraft-carrier operations planned for next month. The two X-47Bs at Naval Air Station Patuxent River, Md., are completing land-based carrier qualification. It's the second UAV refueling project to be cut. The Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency ended a program to demonstrate refueling between two Northrop Grumman RQ-4 Global Hawks. (Source: Aviation Week, 04/15/13) Gulf Coast note: Northrop Grumman Fire Scout and Global Hawk UAV variants are built in part in Moss Point, Miss.

Daimler selling EADS stake

Daimler will sell its remaining 7.5 percent stake in EADS, cutting the vehiclemaker's equity ties with the company it helped found. Daimler is offering shares in the Airbus parent to institutional investors with little to no marketing. France, Germany and Spain are reducing state interests in EADS, which in March approved a change in shareholder structure after EADS' bid to merge with BAE Systems failed. Earlier this month French media group Lagardere sold a 7.4 percent EADS stake. (Source: Financial Times, 04/16/13) Gulf Coast note: Airbus is building an A320 assembly line in Mobile, Ala.; Daimler has a Mercedes-Benz plant in Tuscaloosa, Ala.

2nd Airbus supplier picks Mobile

MOBILE, Ala. -- Logistics company Kuehne + Nagel North America plans to open an office in Mobile. It's the second Airbus-related supplier for the Alabama port city. Kuehne + Nagel is the principal logistical supplier for Airbus in Hamburg, Germany. A Kuehne + Nagel release said the Mobile office will offer logistics to companies from the aerospace industry as well as from the oil and gas and marine sectors. Airbus broke ground April 8 on its A320 final production line at Brookley Aeroplex. The first supplier, Safran Engineering Services, opened its Brookley office hours before the Airbus groundbreaking. (Source: al.com, 04/16/13)

Tuesday, April 16, 2013

Wing to dedicate hangar to Raiders

EGLIN AIR FORCE BASE, Fla. – On Wednesday in a hangar at Eglin Air Force Base, the military's newest stealth aircraft, the F-35, will line up facing a B-25, known for a stealthy World War II attack. The 33rd Fighter Wing planned the pairing as part of the ceremony to dedicate an F-35 hangar to Ret. Lt. Col. Ed Saylor, one of the last surviving Doolittle Raiders. He'll be in town for the 71st and final reunion this week. Saylor was a maintenance crew chief for one of the 16 crews that participated in the April 18, 1942 raid in which 80 airmen took off in B-25s from the USS Hornet to bombs Tokyo. It was the first American attack on Japan after Pearl Harbor was attacked in December 1941. The Raiders trained for the mission at Eglin Air Force Base on how to conduct short takeoffs. (Sources: Northwest Florida Daily News, 04/15/13) Bob Greene column, A final toast for the Doolittle Raiders, 04/14/13)

Monday, April 15, 2013

LM expanding in Troy

TROY, Ala. -- Lockheed Martin Missiles and Fire Control Pike County Operations is expected to expand, bringing some 100 additional jobs over seven years. According to Lockheed Martin, the company determined that an expansion of the Troy facility would provide capability to meet anticipated production schedules over the next decade. The expansion would also allow for continued production of the Terminal High Altitude Area Defense (THAAD) and the Joint Air-to-Surface Standoff Missile (JASSM), as well as support for potential new production awards. The plant employs 360 workers. (Source: Dothan Eagle, 04/14/13) Troy is south of Montgomery and north of Dothan, Ala.

Another Mobile firm tapped

MOBILE, Ala. -- Hargrove Engineers and Contractors of Mobile has been chosen by Hoar Program Management to assist with Package B of the Airbus final final assembly line at Brookley Aeroplex. The company will work alongside Frankfurt Short Bruza Associates P.C. to provide architectural and engineering services for the flight line, final phase, gauging hangar and delivery center. It's the fifth Mobile area firm now tied to the $600 million assembly line will employ 1,000 when in full production making A320 jetliners. (Source: al.com, 04/15/13)

Friday, April 12, 2013

Q&A with EADS' Enders

MOBILE, Ala. -- EADS chief executive Tom Enders was in Mobile during the week to formally break ground on a $600 million Airbus aircraft assembly plant at the Brookley Aeroplex. The 1,000-worker factory will assemble A320 passenger jets for the EADS subsidiary. Enders shared his thoughts on the project in an interview with Mobile Press-Register/al.com columnist George Talbot. (Source: al.com, 04/11/13)

Contract: Boeing, $65.9M

The Boeing Co., St. Louis, Mo., is being awarded a $65,877,538 firm-fixed-price contract for 2,701 Lot 17 Joint Direct Attack Munition (JDAM) tailkits. Work will be done at St. Louis, Mo., and is expected to be completed by March 31, 2015. The contract involves foreign military sales; this effort is 100 percent FMS for Israel. The contracting activity is AFLCMC/EBDKI, Eglin Air Force Base, Fla. (Source: DoD, 04/12/13)

Airbus to offer wider seats

Airbus plans to offer airlines the option of an extra-wide 20-inch seat on its A320 aircraft. Currently the planemaker configures narrow-body jets with three 18 inch-wide seats in each row of the economy-class cabin. Under the new concept, two seats would be reduced to 17 inches with the third 20. (Source: Flightglobal, 04/11/13) In another Airbus matter, American Airlines will split its order for 130 Airbus A320 aircraft equally between the A319 and A321, according to engine supplier International Aero Engines (IAE). American will take 65 A319s with CFM International CFM56-5B engines and 65 A321s with IAE V2500-A5 engines, says Jon Beatty, president and chief executive of IAE. American previously had not disclosed how many of each type it planned to take delivery of beyond 2013. It will accept 15 A319s and five A321s from the manufacturer this year. (Source: Flightglobal, 04/11/13) Gulf Coast note: Airbus broke ground this week on its new A320 plant in Mobile, Ala. It also has aircraft manufacturing plants in France, Germany and China.

Thursday, April 11, 2013

HMM brought into Airbus project

MOBILE, Ala. -- The Mobile office of Hatch Mott MacDonald is providing aviation and engineering design management for the Airbus final assembly plant at Brookley Aeroplex. Birmingham-based Hoar Program Management, chosen Feb.1 to oversee the project, said Wednesday that HMM is overseeing all architectural and engineering partners involved with the $600 million A320 plant. Based in Millburn, N.J., HMM has a staff of 22 in the Mobile metropolitan area. Expertise includes passenger and cargo terminals, airside infrastructure, aircraft maintenance facilities, aviation fueling systems and more. There was a ceremonial groundbreaking Monday for the plant that will eventually employ 1,000 workers. (Source: al.com, 04/10/13) Previous

General officer announcement

Air Force Brig. Gen. Scott W. Jansson has been nominated for appointment to the rank of major general. Jansson is currently serving as Air Force program executive officer for weapons and director, Armament Directorate, Air Force Life Cycle Management Center, Air Force Materiel Command, Eglin Air Force Base, Fla. (Source: DoD, 04/11/13)

UK student pilot flies F-35

Tidball at the controls. Air Force photo
EGLIN AIR FORCE BASE, Fla. -- The first United Kingdom Royal Navy student aviator at the 33rd Fighter Wing training to be an F-35B instructor pilot completed his first sortie in the joint strike fighter here April 10. Royal Navy Lt. Cdr. Ian Tidball flew with the Marine Fighter Attack Training Squadron-501. "From a handling perspective, it is a responsive and smooth airplane to fly with an awful lot of thrust and power," said Tidball. "Everything I trained for, especially taking advantage of the full mission simulator made this an easy flight." Tidball’s preparation included about six weeks of academics and kinetically-based simulators at the F-35 Academic Training Center. The center is the high-tech hub in a campus designed especially for fifth-generation joint strike fighter maintainer and operator training. It is hosted at the 33rd FW. (Source: 33rd Fighter Wing Public Affairs, 04/10/13) Previous

Wednesday, April 10, 2013

Eglin radar fills gap

COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. -- Because of budget cuts, radar at Eglin Air Force Base, Fla., is helping to make up for the shut down of a third of the Space Fence radar. That's what Gen. William Shelton, head of Air Force Space Command, said during the 29th annual National Space Symposium in Colorado Springs. East Coast radar receivers that provide data about satellites and space debris have been turned off as part of an effort to save $508 million from the budget of Shelton's command. A radar at Eglin is capable of countering that loss, Shelton said, but doing so takes that radar out of its regular rotation. "So there's some risk we're taking here, but it's prudent risk," he said. Shelton said models show that more than 500,000 man-made objects are in orbit today, with U.S. systems tracking less than 5 percent. Most of those objects are too small to be picked up by current sensors, but represent potentially catastrophic dangers to satellites. (Sources: Air Force Times, AOL Defense, 04/09/13) Previous

Design challenge this month

EGLIN AIR FORCE BASE, Fla. -- The Air Force Research Laboratory will host teams from all three service academies and 17 universities for the Annual AFRL Design Challenge April 15-20 at the Air Force Enlisted Village in Shalimar, Fla. The demonstrations begin 1 p.m. each day. AFRL collected input from warfighters to identify problems with real-world application and rapid transition potential. In August 2012, teams were given the engineering design challenge, Portable Bridge Technology, $20,000, and nine months to create a demonstrable solution. This year’s challenge is to design a system for a team of four Special Operations Force personnel to cross irrigation canals, go rooftop-to-rooftop, cross snow and glacier crevasses, etc., under a variety of conditions. Each team will partner three students with one battlefield airman from Hurlburt Field Air Force Base, Fla., to complete the obstacle course using their prototype design. The AFRL Design Competition allows AFRL and the warfighter to benefit from some creative ideas that address a real military need while also giving students an opportunity to work under real-world conditions. The students gain experience in rapid prototyping and engineering a solution for a real customer-need, while knowing that their contribution can make a difference. (Source: 96th Test Wing Public Affairs, 04/10/13)

Direct Chicago flights are back

MOBILE, Ala. -- Mobile now has direct daily flights to Chicago’s O'Hare International Airport after a 10-year absence. The first flight from Mobile Regional Airport was Tuesday. "United Airlines is one of our longest airline partnerships, and this will greatly improve our connectivity to the west, north, northeast and even international destinations," said Patricia G. Edington, secretary of the Mobile Airport Authority. Bill Sisson, the authority’s executive director, called United's decision to resume daily, nonstop service between Mobile and Chicago is "timely" in light of Monday's groundbreaking for a $600 million Airbus assembly line. (Source: al.com, 04/09/13)

Blue Angles 2013 season over

PENSACOLA, Fla. – The Navy has canceled all 2013 air shows and practices for the Blue Angles flight demonstration team. Team Cmdr. Tom Frosch spoke about the cancelations Tuesday at Sherman Field at Naval Air Station Pensacola, where the team is based. With a signature F/A-18 serving as a backdrop, Frosch expressed hope the team will be back next year. The Blue Angles will fly up to 11 hours a month in Pensacola, just over a quarter of the 40 hours a month they normally fly. It's a level to keep the pilots safe and efficient. (Source: Pensacola News Journal, 04/10/13)

NG gets $71M contract

Northrop Grumman received an undefinitized contract award valued at more than $71 million for its Global Hawk unmanned aircraft system from the Air Force. Issued by the Global Hawk Systems Program Office at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base in Dayton, Ohio, the award is an add-on to a previous Lot 10 contract for block load and production acceptance infrastructure. "This contract modification covers a 22-month period of performance from March 2013 through the end of December 2014, bridging the current Lot 10 contract through completion. It will provide engineering support for the production and final acceptance testing of the Lot 10 aircraft and sensors," said George Guerra, vice president of the Global Hawk program for Northrop Grumman's Aerospace Systems sector. (Source: Northrop Grumman, 04/09/13) Previous. Gulf Coast note: Global Hawks are built in part in Moss Point, Miss.

Tuesday, April 9, 2013

X-47B catapult launch planned

The Navy plans to conduct the first catapult takeoff of its X-47B unmanned fighter from an aircraft carrier next month and other shipboard tests despite mandatory budget cuts this year. Rear Adm. Mathias Winter, program executive officer for unmanned aviation and strike weapons, said Northrop Grumman's X-47B program and other unmanned aircraft programs should survive the fiscal 2013 budget cuts largely intact because they are still early in development. But the Navy may buy fewer unmanned planes and helicopters in coming years unless Congress reverses budget cuts required over the next decade, Winter said in a recent interview at Naval Air Station Patuxent River in southern Maryland. He also talked about the Triton UAV, the Navy's variant of the Global Hawk, which is expected to have its first flight in May. (Source: Reuters, 04/08/13) Gulf Coast note: Northrop Grumman does some of the work on Fire Scout and Global Hawk unmanned systems in Moss Point, Miss. Previous X-47B, previous Triton

Airport adds international flight

NEW ORLEANS -- Louis Armstrong International Airport on Tuesday announced it's adding a second direct international destination through the summer vacation season, offering flights to Cancun every Sunday from May 26 through Aug. 11. While Cancun will be the airport's 40th non-stop destination, it will serve as the second international route, joining flights that already link New Orleans and Toronto. (Source: nola.com, 04/09/13)

Contract: Raytheon, $35.1M

Raytheon Co., Goleta, Calif. is being awarded a $35,166,810 firm-fixed delivery order for AN/ALE-50 towed decoys. Work will be performed at Forest, Miss., and is expected to be completed by March 31, 2015. This award is the result of a sole-source acquisition. AFLCMC/WNKCB, Robins Air Force Base, Ga. is the contracting activity. (Source: DoD, 04/09/12)

Monday, April 8, 2013

Ground broken on Airbus plant

MOBILE, Ala. – Ground was broken today at Brookley Aeroplex on the $600 million Airbus A320 final assembly line. Industry, state and local officials were in town to mark the official start of the plant that will eventually employ 1,000 workers and build the most popular passenger airplane in the Airbus lineup. "We have the commitment here to create a world-class product and our work force is key," said Alabama Gov. Robert Bentley, adding that the facility is going to benefit the entire region. "Thanks to Mobile, the sun will never set on Airbus," said Fabrice Bregier, president and CEO of Airbus. The company currently has plants in France, Germany and China. Officials from JetBlue, which will take the first delivery of a plane assembled at the Brookley plant, were also on hand for the groundbreaking. (Source: al.com, 04/08/13)

Safran opens Mobile office

MOBILE, Ala. -- On the same day planemaker Airbus slated a groundbreaking for its new assembly line, supplier Safran Engineering Services officially opened its Mobile office with a ribbon-cutting. In Mobile, Safran will provide engineering services for Airbus, including mechanical and electrical engineering work. The company will start with 20 engineers, but program manager Israel Perez said the goal is to expand to 50. Jobs are currently being advertised through the Alabama Industrial Development Training program. (Source: al.com, 04/08/13)

Steps made to sell GH to Korea

WASHINGTON -- The Pentagon formally told Congress of a plan to sell four unmanned Global Hawks to South Korea. The deal under the Foreign Military Sales program would be worth up to $1.2 billion. It includes four RQ-4 Block 30 Global Hawks equipped with the Enhanced Integrated Sensor Suites, associated equipment, parts, training and logistical support. Notification to Congress is mandatory for FMS sales. Congress is expected to approve the plan, a diplomatic source said. (Source: The Korea Times, 04/08/13) Gulf Coast note: Global Hawks are built in part in Moss Point, Miss.

Sunday, April 7, 2013

Orbital rolls out Antares rocket

Orbital Sciences rolled out the first fully integrated Antares rocket from its assembly building at NASAs Wallops Flight Facility in eastern Virginia Saturday in preparation for its inaugural flight slated for April 17 from the Mid-Atlantic Regional Spaceport. The Antares test flight, the A-ONE mission, is the first of two Orbital is scheduled to conduct in 2013 under its Commercial Orbital Transportation Services Space Act Agreement with NASA. Following a successful A-ONE launch, Orbital will carry out a full flight demonstration of its new Antares/Cygnus cargo delivery system to the International Space Station around mid-year. (Source: Orbital Sciences Corp., 04/06/13) Gulf Coast note: The Aerojet AJ26 rocket engines that power Antares are tested at Stennis Space Center, Miss. The latest test was April 4. That engine will be shipped to Wallops for an upcoming Commercial Resupply Services mission.

Saturday, April 6, 2013

County puts $65K into UAV project

SHALIMAR, Fla. -- Work continues on plans to build a center to develop small unmanned air and ground vehicles. Construction is targeted to start next year. Okaloosa County commissioners approved $65,000 to pay for site assessment and conceptual design of the facility being developed by the University of Florida and the Economic Development Council of Okaloosa County. The University of Florida and the EDC have been working on the UAV center, which would be located just south of UF’s Research and Engineering Education Facility on land the college owns. The 45,000-square-foot center will consist of two connected buildings, one for administrative offices and research labs and the other for flight and ground tests. The complex will feature space for temporary or permanent offices and labs, depending on clients’ needs. The test center is intended to attract the high-paying science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) jobs. (Source: Northwest Florida Daily News, 04/05/13)

Friday, April 5, 2013

Keesler wins AF award

BILOXI, Miss. -- Keesler Air Force Base was told Friday it's been selected for the Commander-in-Chief's Installation Excellence Award. Rep. Steven Palazzo's office made the announcement Friday afternoon. Keesler will represent the Air Force in competition for the Commander-in-Chief's Annual Awards for Installation Excellence. The Air Force award comes with a $1 million prize that will be used for quality of life improvements. (Source: Sun Herald, 04/05/13)

Contract: Jacobs, $128.4M

Jacobs Technology Inc., Tullahoma, Tenn., is being awarded a $128,450,000 indefinite- delivery/indefinite-quantity contract modification. The total estimated cumulative face value of the contract is $263,950,000. This modification provides for the exercise of an option for additional diverse engineering, technical and acquisition support services being provided under the basic contract. Work will be performed at Eglin Air Force Base, Fla., with an expected completion date of April 19, 2014. The contracting activity is AFTC/PZZ, Eglin Air Force Base. This contract involves foreign military sales. (Source: DoD, 04/05/13)

Towers set to close get reprieve

The Federal Aviation Administration said it will delay until June 15 the closure of the air traffic control tower at Stennis International Airport in Hancock County and 148 others across the country. Last month the FAA directed the Stennis tower to be among the first to close on Sunday as part of the agency's cost-cutting effort. Now all facilities will close June 15 unless the airports decide to continue operations as a nonfederal contract tower, the FAA said. Officials from about 50 airports have indicated they may fund the tower operations themselves. The Stennis airport serves, among others, NASA's nearby Stennis Space Center. (Source: Sun Herald, 04/05/13) Previous

$12M investment in Dothan MRO

DOTHAN, Ala. – Commercial Jet Inc. will invest $12 million to open a new 400,000-square-foot facility at Dothan Regional Airport in Dale County that will employ hundreds. Alabama Gov. Robert Bentley, House Speaker Mike Hubbard and Alabama Department of Commerce Secretary Greg Canfield joined company and community leaders to make the announcement Friday. The facility will more than triple the company's capacity to provide freighter conversion and maintenance, repair and overhaul, or MRO, services. The expansion will include multiple hangars, back shops and offices and extensive apron space. The final building will be delivered in October. (Source: MadeinAlabama, 04/05/13) Commercial Jet Inc. website

Airbus closing in on goal

Airbus is closing in on its 2013 order target four months into the year after already winning more than 600 orders from airlines buying the fuel-efficient A320 single-aisle bestseller. Airbus, which targeted 700 gross orders for the year, opened 2013 with a prediction for as many as 650 orders. But Airbus Chief Operating Officer John Leahy has raised the goal by another 50 planes. Airbus is most likely to exceed that target, given the Paris Air Show, a one-week event in June that typically coincides with large-scale orders. (Source: Bloomberg, 04/04/13) As if to underscore the popularity of the A320, Airbus on Monday will break ground on its newest A320 final assembly line in Mobile, Ala. The ceremony is slated for 10 a.m. CDT at Brookley Aeroplex.

Contract: EADS NA, $21M

EADS North America of Herndon, Va., was awarded a $20,994,308 modification to a previously awarded firm-fixed-price contract for security and support mission equipment package production cut-in services. The cumulative total face value of this contract is now $2,260,811,397. Work will be performed in Columbus, Miss. Fiscal 2013 Other Procurement, Army contract funds are being obligated on this award. The Army Contracting Command, Redstone Arsenal, Ala., is the contracting activity. (Source: DoD, 04/04/13)

Thursday, April 4, 2013

NASA picks 295 proposals

NASA selected 295 research and technology proposals from 216 American small businesses for negotiations that may lead to contract awards worth a combined $38.7 million. The proposals are part of NASA's Small Business Innovation Research Program (SBIR) and Small Business Technology Transfer (STTR) Program. Nine proposals involve technology being developed for the Office of the Chief Technologist at NASA’s John C. Stennis Space Center, Miss., including nanocomposite protective coatings for nuclear thermal propulsion systems; advanced prognostic tools; power-generating coverings and casings and more. For a list of selected companies, click here. (Source: NASA, 04/04/13)

Wednesday, April 3, 2013

Australian F-35s progressing

Australia's first two F-35s are progressing down the U.S. production line and approaching the stage where they will start looking like planes rather than a collection of components. David Scott, Lockheed Martin's director of F-35 international customer engagement, said AU-1 and AU-2 were on schedule for delivery in 2014. He said the wings are under construction at the Lockheed Martin plant in Forth Worth, Texas. Forth Worth is also constructing the forward fuselage, while the center and aft fuselages are under construction at separate Northrop Grumman and BAE plants. The first Australian F-35 pilots will likely start training at Eglin Air Force Base, Fla., later this year. (Source: AAP via The Australian, 04/03/13)

Third UK F-35 takes off

FORT WORTH, Texas -- The third United Kingdom F-35 embarked on its first flight Monday. The aircraft, ZM137, departed at 10:16 a.m. with Lockheed Martin F-35 Chief Test Pilot Alan Norman at the controls. ZM137 will complete a series of company and government checkout flights prior to its acceptance by the U.K. Ministry of Defence. ZM137 will join UK aircraft ZM135 and ZM136 at Eglin Air Force Base, Fla., later this year where it will be used for pilot and maintainer training. (Source: Lockheed Martin, 04/02/13)

Eglin A-10 fires APKW

EGLIN AIR FORCE BASE, Fla. -- A light-weight, long-range precision rocket from BAE Systems has successfully been tested on an A-10 Thunderbolt II. The laser-guided Advanced Precision Kill Weapon System II had previously been used in Afghanistan by U.S. Marine Corps helicopters. The 40th Flight Test Squadron performed three sorties to demonstrate the capability and ensure the rocket could be fired safely from a fixed wing aircraft, a test that had never been done before. The rockets were launched at altitudes 10,000 feet and 15,000 feet and hit within inches of the target. In tests next month at China Lake Test Range, Calif., 22 rockets will be fired from an A-10 and an F-16 at moving and stationary targets. The Navy is also testing the system on a fixed-wing aircraft. (Source: Team Eglin Public Affairs, 04/02/13)

Tuesday, April 2, 2013

Tuskegee Airman visits Eglin

EGLIN AIR FORCE BASE, Fla. -- A highly decorated member of the Tuskegee Airmen was at Eglin Air Force Base Monday to participate in the promotion ceremony for Maurice Lee, commander of the 33rd Aircraft Maintenance Squadron. Lee was promoted from major to lieutenant colonel. During the ceremony, he was flanked by Harvey, his 89-year-old predecessor who has become a friend. Harvey, the first black fighter pilot to fly in the Korean War, spent 22 years in the military and was awarded the Distinguished Flying Cross and 11 air medals. During his visit to Eglin, he also took a close-up look at the F-35. (Source: Multiple, including WEAR-TV, Northwest Florida Daily News, 04/01/13)

Spring brings more flights

GULFPORT, Miss. -- Airlines are adding more flights and larger planes at Gulfport-Biloxi International Airport. On Monday, Delta Airlines added a later flight from Gulfport to Atlanta on a 50-seat regional jet. American Airlines is going from four to five daily flights serving Dallas-Fort Worth International. In addition, US Airways passengers flying to the hub in Charlotte, N.C., will ride larger jets. The airline is replacing two of its 50-seat planes to Charlotte Douglas International Airport with 67-seat regional jets for the season. (Source: Sun Herald, 04/01/13)