Week in review (8/19 to 8/25)
Now for your aerospace week in review:
Google employees demand the company pull out of Pentagon AI project
‘Google should not be in the business of war.’ READ MORE
TeCMEN Industry Day
When you attract more people the second time you put on an event, you must be doing something right. That's what happened at the TeCMEN Industry Day held Thursday at the Emerald Coast Convention Center in Fort Walton Beach. Thirty-year-old TeCMEN is the Technology Coast Manufacturing and Engineering Network, and this was its second annual Industry Day. Linda Sumblin, the group's coordinator with the Economic Development Council of Okaloosa County, said 318 individuals attended and there were 46 entities showcased in the exhibitor hall. That's better than last year's turnout of 287 participants and 44 exhibitors. The idea behind industry day is to put all the business, military and educational players in one place and foster collaboration. The exhibits allow players to showcase what they do. The goal is to connect people, companies, and academic partners from across the engineering and manufacturing landscape to showcase the region's technology landscape. A common thread, of course, is the defense industry. Okaloosa County is home to Eglin Air Force Base, where aerial weapons are developed and tested, and Hurlburt Field, home of the U.S. Air Force Special Operations Command. A lot of dollars are spent in this region on the nation’s defense, so much of what you see during Industry Day involves that.
I could only spend a couple of hours at the event, but met a few people who will be good interviews for future stories in the Gulf Coast Aerospace Corridor Newsletter. I also reconnected with some folks I've talked to in the past, which is always a pleasure. One of the speakers I did catch was on Don Gaetz, former Florida Senate president and now the chairman of Triumph Gulf Coast, the organization responsible for distributing $1.5 million that resulted from the settlement in the wake of the BP oil spill. He talked about factors that determine whether a project ends up getting funding. The money is being used to diversify the Northwest Florida economy, to provide a third leg to an economy so reliant on tourism and the military. Importantly, the money is being used not to entirely fund selected projects, but to back projects that can attract additional dollars from the public and private sector, those where the proposer is also putting money into the great idea. According to Gaetz, there have been 180 applicants requesting a total of $1.8 billion. So far just under $100 million has been awarded in the first few months, and that's resulted in $400 million worth of economic development now underway. That's what it means to leverage the money and over time, with the goal of turning it into $3 billion worth of investments. One of the projects that received preliminary approval was for the expansion of the maintenance, repair and overhaul campus at Pensacola International Airport. Gaetz said the request was for $130 million, but Triumph Gulf Coast approved $56 million – some 28 percent of what will be a more than $200 million project. He also talked about the $8.2 million in funding that will go to provide infrastructure for Whiting Aviation Park in Milton in what will be an $18 million project. That project will help protect Whiting and increase its value to the military.
"The 2018 edition of TeCMEN Industry Day was by all accounts a great success," said Nathan Sparks, executive director of the EDC of Okaloosa County. "The energy on the sold out exhibit floor was at an all-time high, with many exhibitors taking full advantage of the opportunity to provide hands-on demonstrations of their equipment and technological capabilities."
There are two other events coming up in October and November in the region that involve topics of interest to the region's aerospace activities. One is the Gulf Power Economic Symposium at Sandestin Beach Resort in Florida, and the other is the Aerospace Alliance Annual Summit at Point Clear, Ala.
Bell Helicopters is shutting down its operation at the Lafayette Regional Airport in Louisiana. Louisiana Economic Development (LED) said the state’s contract with Bell was being terminated due to underperformance. LED provided $26 million in funding to the manufacturer in 2013 to establish an assembly base. It was initially supposed to be the final assembly line for the Bell 505 Jet Ranger X but later transitioned to the 525 cabin subassembly facility. Part of the agreement was that Bell would create 115 new direct jobs. Bell renegotiated the contract last year to bring that number down to 95. Bell currently employs 22 full-time workers at the site. The work done in Lafayette will be done now in Amarillo, Texas. LED is seeking to be repaid $16 million. Lafayette is about two hours west of New Orleans along Interstate 10.
A Hurlburt Field airman who gave his life on the battlefield was recognized Wednesday in Washington, D.C. Air Force Tech Sgt. John Chapman was awarded the Congressional Medal of Honor. He was killed in March 2002 in a battle in Afghanistan when Chapman and his reconnaissance team engaged the enemy in the rescue of a Navy petty officer who'd fallen from the chopper they were on. Despite being wounded in the rescue, Chapman continued to fight, ultimately losing his life. During that battle 16 years ago, seven service members lost their lives. Chapman was the 19th airman to win the nation’s highest military honor, and the first airman since the Vietnam era.
-- An F-35 that returned to base after an in-flight emergency was parked on the flight line when its nose gear gave out. The plane had the ground incident shortly after noon Wednesday, according to the 33rd Fighter Wing. Nobody was injured. The plane was from the 58th Fighter Squadron. Eglin shares the runway with Destin-Fort Walton Beach Airport, but no commercial traffic was affected. An investigation into the circumstances surrounding the mishap is under way.
-- The Department of Energy has recognized Naval Air Station Whiting Field for its contributions to energy efficiency, conservation and renewable energy technologies. It’s the second award related to energy excellence in recent weeks. NAS Whiting was selected earlier this month as the Department of the Navy’s small shore installation Energy Excellence award winner for 2018. Its recent Utility Energy Savings Contract (UESC) was also selected by the Department of Energy (DOE) as a Federal Energy and Management Program (FEMP) award for 2018. The project was one of only nine selected throughout the entire federal government, and the only Department of Navy project recognized.
Relativity Space, a California-based company that's building a rocket using far fewer parts thanks to additive manufacturing, will test for the first time in history, the combination of a 3D printed engine with a 3D printed fuel tank at NASA's Stennis Space Center, Miss., in 2019. Building a rocket usually takes 12 to 18 months and consists of more than 100,000 parts. Relativity Space takes two months and the rocket is made of fewer than 1,000 parts.
· BAE Systems, Technology Solutions and Services Inc., Rockville, Md., was awarded an $83.5 million contract. Tasking includes maintenance, integrated logistic support, management, life cycle sustainment, and the upgrade of current systems; such as the Command, Control, Communications, Computers, Combat Systems, Intelligence, Surveillance, and Reconnaissance system; using new and emerging technologies in support of the Special Communications Mission Solutions Division. Fort Walton Bech will be the location for three percent of the work. Other work sites are in Maryland, Virginia, North Carolina, California, Texas, Kentucky, Colorado, Washington, and Germany, and is expected to be completed in August 2023. The Naval Air Warfare Center Aircraft Division, Patuxent River, Md., is the contracting activity.
· Technical Systems Integration Inc., Chesapeake, Va., was awarded a $10.6 million contract for depot-level repair, overhaul, and modification for the MK-105 magnetic minesweeping gear. Work will be performed in Panama City, Fla., and is expected to be completed by August 2019. The Naval Surface Warfare Center Panama City Division, Panama City Beach, is the contracting activity. … MSE Group LLC, San Antonio, Texas, was awarded a maximum amount $10 million contract in the Naval Facilities Engineering Command (NAVFAC) Southeast area of responsibility (AOR). A task order in the amount of $15,659 is being awarded to prepare Emergency Planning and Community Right-To-Know Act Sections 312 and 313 regulatory requirements for reporting year 2018 at Naval Support Activity Panama City, Fla. Work for this task order is expected to be completed by July 2019. All work on this contract will be performed at various Navy and Marine Corps installations in the NAVFAC Southeast AOR. The Naval Facilities Engineering Command, Southeast, Jacksonville, Fla., is the contracting activity.
· The Boeing Co., St. Louis, Mo., was awarded an $8.2 million contract for five Automated System Test Set Trailers and spares. Work will be performed in St. Louis and will be completed by Aug. 20, 2020. Air Force Life Cycle Management Center, Eglin Air Force Base, Fla., is the contracting activity.
· Kratos Unmanned Aerial Systems Inc., Sacramento, Calif., was awarded a $109 million contract, for Lot 14-16 production and contractor logistics support. Work will be performed at Sacramento and is expected to be completed by Dec. 31, 2022. Air Force Life Cycle Management Center, Eglin Air Force Base, Fla., is the contracting activity.
· Jacobs Technology Inc., Tampa, Fla., was awarded a $13.9 million contract. This is a bridge contract that provides for uninterrupted contractor support services, most importantly in the areas of information technology (IT) and information assurance (IA), for the F-35 Joint Program Office. Four percent of the work will be done at Eglin Air Force Base. Other work sites are in Virginia, California, Maryland, Ohio, Texas and Jacksonville, Fla., and is expected to be completed in January 2019. The Naval Air Warfare Center Aircraft Division, Lakehurst, N.J., is the contracting activity.