AVBOT AEROCOMM plus & FTHF: Aerospace & Defense News Briefs (1)

Ohio Pursues UAV Test Center With Indiana

AIAA Daily Launch    15 July 2013

The Cleveland Plain Dealer (7/14, Breckenridge) reported, “Ohio and Indiana have teamed up to pursue a federal site for research into unmanned aircraft, popularly known as drones.” Leading the effort is the Ohio Department of Transportation. “The Federal Aviation Administration will oversee six test sites, where experts will help the FAA figure out how unmanned aircraft – ranging in size from jetliners to model airplanes – will one day mix with the nation’s air traffic.” The agency is expected “to name six sites later this year” and wants “a mix of geographics, populations, weather and air traffic.”

UAV Technology Trending Toward Untethered Flights In Civilian Airspace  Government Computer News (7/13, Marshall) reports that researchers are developing technology to allow UAVs to safely fly tethered, or out of line-of-sight from pilots, while they wait on the Federal Aviation Administration to develop standards that would integrate such UAVs into civilian airspace. Current “sense-and-avoid” technology expected to play a role in untethered UAVs include automatic dependent surveillance-broadcast (ADS-B) transponders, which deliver information on altitude and velocity and will be required by the FAA on most aircraft by 2020. Researchers are also developing an integrated Mid-Air Collision Avoidance System for all UAVs, expected by 2014, which could integrate ADS-B and other technologies.

 

 

SpaceX May Be Only Company To Bid For Launch Complex 39A

AIAA Daily Launch    15 July 2013

Space News (7/13, Klotz, Subscription Publication) reported after surveying companies, SpaceX may be the only company to propose to take over Launch Complex 39A from NASA as both ULA and ATK said they did not submit bids. The article also noted that even though Orbital is developing its launcher to bring cargo to the ISS, a spokesperson did not know if it would “expand” to Florida.

Plan Presented To Develop Commercial Spaceport At Ellington Field

AIAA Daily Launch    15 July 2013

The Houston Chronicle (7/13, Hlavaty) reported Mario Diaz, the director of aviation at the Houston Airport System, presented a plan to Houston’s Budget and Fiscal Affairs Committee on Thursday for building a spaceport at Ellington Field. Diaz said this plan is being presented as the “spotlight” will be on the city with Commercial Spaceflight Federation meetings in the city this September. According to the article, proponents are already “working on an FAA/AST Spaceport License, collaborations with the Johnson Space Center, and partnerships with local universities” as well.

 

Dream Chaser Model Unveiled At US Space & Rocket Center

AIAA Daily Launch    15 July 2013

The Huntsville (AL) Times (7/13, Berry) “Business” blog reported a scale model of the Sierra Nevada Dream Chaser spacecraft, which is now undergoing testing at the Dryden Flight Research Center, was unveiled Friday at the US Space & Rocket Center. Deborah Barnhart, chief executive officer of the US Space & Rocket Center, reportedly called it a “historic day” for the center, adding the spacecraft will one day “take us from earth to the space station and beyond.”

NTSB, FAA To Assist UK Officials In Probe Of 787 Fire At Heathrow Airport

AIAA Daily Launch    15 July 2013

The CBS Evening News reported, “the CEO of Ethiopian Airlines said it will keep flying its Boeing 787s despite an investigation into a fire on one of its Dreamliners.” According to the broadcast, the 787 Dreamliner was “parked at London’s Heathrow Airport” over the weekend “when a fire broke out in the rear of the plane.” Investigators in Britain have said that the “fire was not caused by the plane’s lithium ion batteries which grounded all 787s worldwide earlier this year,” CBS News added.

In a 1,200+ word article appearing on the front page of its “Business Day” section, the New York Times (7/15, B1, Drew, Mouawad, Subscription Publication) reports that it is still unclear whether the fire was “caused by something as simple as a galley stove that had been left on or a faulty component, or” an indication of a more significant issue. The Times notes that the NTSB and the FAA are “assisting the Air Accidents Investigation Branch in Britain” with the investigation into the fire. The

Meanwhile, the AP (7/13, Hui) reports, “Britain’s Air Accidents Investigation Branch said there was ‘no evidence of a direct causal relationship’ between the Dreamliner’s batteries and the fire.” Because the heat damage from the fire is located predominantly in the “upper portion of the rear fuselage, a complex part of the aircraft,” the agency said, “it is clear that this heat damage is remote from the area in which the aircraft main and APU (Auxilliary Power Unit) batteries are located.” The article relates that Ethiopian Airlines is helping Air Accident’s Investigation Branch look into the fire, “together with Boeing…the FAA and the U.S. National Transportation Safety Board.”

CNN (7/13) reported that NTSB Senior Air Safety Investigator Lorenda Ward is expected “to be accompanied by NTSB airplane systems investigators and representatives of the Federal Aviation Administration and Boeing.” As for the possibility of a press release, describes a Boeing statement by email that “said it has a team on the ground at Heathrow and that any future information related to the probe will either come from or be approved by the AAIB,” who expects more days to pass before it finishes its preliminary investigation.

CNN (7/12, Martinez, Patterson) reported that former US Department of Transportation Inspector General Mary Schiavo tweeted, “If today’s Boeing 787 problems are battery related…the FAA may reconsider its decision to allow them to fly before NTSB identified” the cause of those problems.

Reuters (7/13) story covers European Aviation Safety Agency statements dealing with the Dreamliner’s ongoing issues. The EASA says it will wait to see what the investigation reveals before deciding whether or not European airlines must ground their own 787 planes. The article specifies that the FAA is responsible for grounding the entire fleet.

Also covering the story are the Wall Street Journal (7/15, B1, Pasztor, Subscription Publication), another New York Times (7/13, Drew, Mouawad, Subscription Publication) article, Bloomberg News(7/13, Johnsson, Wall), The Hill (7/13, Goad) “RegWatch” blog, Air Traffic Management (7/14, Turner), Politico (7/13, Wolfe), and other media sources

Airlines Express Confidence In 787 Dreamliners   Reuters (7/15, Griffiths, Jones) reports that on Sunday, amid the investigation into the fire of a Ethiopian Airlines 787 plane, airlines said that they remained confident in the safety of Boeing’s 787 Dreamliners. The article notes that Virgin Atlantic, and the UK’s Tui Travel, which owns several European airlines, were among those that expressed confidence in the planes.

Second Dreamliner Incident At Manchester, UK Airport  The AP (7/13) reported, first of all, that “two Boeing 787 Dreamliner planes ran into trouble in England on Friday,” the other involving “an unspecified technical issue forcing another to turn back to Manchester Airport.” The second incident brings tour operator Thomson Airways into the picture, who “confirmed that one of its Boeing 787 Dreamliner planes travelling from England to the U.S. had to turn back after experiencing a technical issue.”

 

 

New Anti-Ship Missile Completes B-1 Captive-Carry Tests
Air Force Magazine Daily Report    15 July 2013

Lockheed Martin and the Air Force recently completed a series of captive-carry flight tests of the company’s Long Range Anti-Ship Missile design on a B-1 bomber, announced the company. The tests, which took place off the southern California coast, supported preparations for the planned first release and free flight of LRASM later this year, states the company’s July 11 release. “Collecting telemetry data while flying in the B-1B bomb bay significantly reduces risk ahead of the first launch,” said Mike Fleming, Lockheed Martin’s LRASM air launch program manager. “Initial assessments indicate the missile performed as expected,” he said. The company is developing LRASM—a variant of its JASSM stealthy cruise missile—under DARPA and Navy sponsorship. (See also Let Us Compete.)

West Virginia Airport To Demonstrate “Virtual Tower” To FAA Representatives

AIAA Daily Launch    15 July 2013

West Virginia MetroNews (7/15, Lawrence) reports that Raleigh County Memorial Airport officials will host FAA representatives later this week to show how a “virtual tower” concept for air traffic control at the airport will work. Raleigh County Memorial Airport Manager Tom Cochran. “We’re using off the shelf technology, which is already out there, but isn’t used to track aircraft.” MetroNews notes that the presence of the National Boy Scout Jamboree this week in the area will create an opportunity to show off the system when traffic will be well above normal.

 

Big layoffs avoided but hiring tight for defense contractors 
Dayton Daily News – 7/9/2013  via NDIA Magazine
July 09–DAYTON — Dayton-area defense contractors have avoided mass layoffs in recent months, but confront continued uncertainty because of automatic budget cuts known as sequestration, company leaders say.

Many local defense firms have halted hiring and not filled open positions until they know what’s ahead with the Pentagon’s budget, said Scott Coale, president of Modern Technology Solutions Inc. in Beavercreek.

“I think it’s an issue that is still sorting itself out,” said Coale, a former leader of the Dayton Area Defense Contractors Association and a retired Air Force colonel. “I think the real challenge is what’s going to happen over the next 10-year period which the sequester law was supposed to address.”

The automatic budget cuts, which began four months ago, are targeted to cut about $500 billion out of the defense budget over a decade. This year, the military was forced to cut $37 billion by Oct. 1, and 10,000 Wright-Patterson Air Force Base civil service workers began 11-day furloughs this week. The cuts were in addition to the $487 billion in spending reductions the Pentagon agreed to absorb.

Deborah Gross, Dayton Area Defense Contractors Association executive director, said she has witnessed a “huge impact” from the no-show of military aircraft flying at the Vectren Dayton Air Show to more people sending out resumes “because they’ve lost their job due to sequestration.”

Sequestration, combined with other defense budget cuts that could add up to $1 trillion, would cause 1 million layoffs nationwide and more than 18,000 jobs lost in Ohio, according to a George Mason University report commissioned by Aerospace Industries Association. AIA spokesman Dan Stohr said Monday the intervention of Congressional lawmakers has changed the outcome.

“In the short term, we have not seen many layoffs,” he acknowledged Monday. “That will be coming.”

He predicted a bigger impact in the next 12 to 18 months.

Sequestration “doesn’t happen all at once,” he said. “It happens contract by contract, activity by activity, program by program.”

The four-county Dayton Metropolitan Statistical Area reported a 7.3 percent unemployment rate in May, the most recent numbers available. The region recorded the same unemployment rate in May 2012. Ohio had a 7 percent unemployment rate in May, compared to 7.6 percent nationally.

Stan Soloway, president and chief executive officer of the Arlington, Va.-based Professional Services Council, said sequestration’s effects on defense firms will be gradual.

“This was always going to be a ramp, not a cliff,” said Soloway, whose organization represents professional service firms with Pentagon contracts. “You will continue to see slowly growing but not insignificant impacts in the industry … which translates directly to job loses.”

“It’s fairly clear that when you look at 3, 4, 5 percent reductions in spending on services, you see a proportional number of people lose their jobs,” he said.

He expects to see a “significant reduction” in the defense budget next year, although Congress has not settled the question of sequestration’s effect on military spending in 2014.

Ohio Metal Fabricating had strong sales the first half of the year, but has noticed a drop-off the second half, a company spokesman said. The Dayton company with 17 workers makes parts for helicopters, Humvees and Mine Resistant Ambush Protected vehicles.

“We had a stellar first half of the year,” said Gary Burdette, sales engineer. “The second half we’re seeing some impact.”

The biggest drop happened when a major aerospace contractor departed the state, he said.

“We are just holding staff,” he said. “We’re level right now, but we’ve been finding work outside of our niche business.” That niche business has meant producing commercial heat lamps and capturing more aerospace work, he said.

Custom Manufacturing Solutions in Xenia makes turret rings for armored combat vehicles.

Mike Collinsworth, company president, said the federal government has delayed awarding some defense contracts. The company has kept 30 employees on the job, and had about a dozen temporary workers last year because of strong orders.

“We bumped up last year with temps and now the temps are no longer here, but I’ve not laid off my core workers yet,” he said.

TAC Enterprises in Springfield laid off 17 employees by early March and is trying to find new work for about 100 employees who produced Air Force cargo nets, officials said. Employees have had four furlough days since sequestration started, said Mary Brandstetter, chief executive officer.

The company, which employs developmentally disabled adults, recorded an 83 percent drop in new cargo net orders, bottoming out at $1.2 million, but had a 16 percent increase in a $2.2 million agreement to repair cargo nets, she said.

“Right now, it’s kind of month to month,” she said.

 

Sequester’s effects felt at local level 
The Sanford Herald – 7/10/2013  via NDIA Magazine
July 09–SANFORD — From Fourth of July fireworks at Fort Bragg to public school employees and a home for troubled children, the federal sequester has already affected the area.

Several days ago, the Washington Post published an article with the headline: “They said the sequester would be scary. Mostly, they were wrong.” Two reporters examined 48 claims officials from the Obama administration had made about the sequester — the political term for across-the-board federal budget cuts — which predicted doom and gloom. They reported that 11 predictions had come true, 23 hadn’t, and 13 won’t be known until later.

Previous reporting by The Herald also found that locals thought the administration may have been bluffing on some aspects of the cuts. After the head of the U.S. Department of Agriculture said the sequester would force him to furlough meat inspectors, for example, many farmers and agriculture officials in Chatham and Lee counties told The Herald in February they didn’t believe that would ever actually happen. It didn’t.

Still, however, the sequester has caused changes and headaches locally. Programs like the county’s Hillcrest Youth Center have been cut, and Lee County Finance Director Lisa Minter said more cuts could still come. The county has also already lost about $40,000 in rebates on bonds it took out for construction at Lee County High School, Minter said, although it did receive most of its rebates.

It’s hard to quantify exactly how much sequestration will harm the county’s finances and services, Minter said. Some things that get cut on the federal level could be paid for by the state, but she said there’s no way of knowing because neither the federal nor state governments have passed their budgets yet. The county’s public health, social services, senior services and youth services departments receive regular federal funding, she said, and the sheriff’s office and library system sometimes receive federal grants.

Budgetary uncertainty has also hit Lee County Schools, with officials recently approving tentative spending of no more than 85 percent of what the district received from the state and federal governments last year. No one has been laid off yet, the district’s human resources director Glenda Jones said, although 31 teaching assistants with temporary contracts were told they wouldn’t be offered the job again next year, pending a higher-than-expected budget. There are an additional 18 teaching assistant spots that weren’t filled last year and are also tentative for next year depending on funding, she said.

“We have been fortunate in not having to implement a reduction in force so far this year,” Jones wrote in an email. “However, we still do not have a budget from the state, so we are not sure how this will impact our teacher assistant allotments.”

Furthermore, the N.C. Senate’s version of the state budget would require Lee County to eliminate more than 40 teaching positions if it becomes law, and it’s still unclear exactly how the federal budget will affect the district, since the federal fiscal year starts in October instead of July, when the state and local fiscal years begin. Much of Lee County Schools’ federal funding goes to the elementary schools, all of which qualify for funding for low-income schools.

North Carolina as a whole would lose $25.4 million in K-12 funding, according to the White House’s predictions, including cuts of 350 teacher and teaching assistant positions. The administration also predicted an additional $16.8 million in cuts to programs for disabled students in the state, including the loss of 200 staff for those programs.

And because there are three different budget proposals being debated in North Carolina right now — one from the Senate, one from the House and one from Gov. Pat McCrory — it’s still unclear whether the state would compensate for federal cuts.

Minter said concerns about state and federal funding were why the Hillcrest Youth Center, which had a mission to give shelter, care and counseling to homeless, runaway, at-risk or court-involved young people in Lee County, had to shut down. It received federal, state and local funding, she said, but couldn’t be run on local funds alone. Minter said that same issue was also why, when the sequester cut the Enrichment Center’s funding for low-cost lunches, home delivery meals and the Gay 90s celebration, county officials felt they couldn’t step in to help and instead left the Enrichment Center to seek out private donations — which it did end up receiving.

“You have to be careful,” Minter said. “Because if you ever pick [the cut funding] up, the feds and the state could say, ‘Well, you have that permanently now.’ It’s a fine balancing line.”

Bob Joyce, president of the Sanford Area Chamber of Commerce, said he read the Washington Post article and agreed that the sequester’s bark was worse than its bite. Still, he said, the sequester hasn’t been entirely inconsequential — it’s just that many of the cuts are difficult to see directly.

For instance, Joyce said one of his neighbors works at Fort Bragg and told him his unit has 12 open positions for which no one will be hired. Although there weren’t technically any layoffs, Joyce said, the effect — fewer paychecks, which leads to less consumer spending, which he said accounts for 70 percent of the nation’s economy — is the same.

“At some point, there were people in those jobs, but now the sequester won’t allow them to be filled,” he said. “They’ve permanently gone away.”

F-35 Schoolhouse Churns out 100th Pilot
Air Force Magazine Daily Report    15 July 2013

Maj. Robert Miller, a test pilot assigned to Edwards AFB, Calif., became the 100th pilot to fly the F-35 strike fighter after going through training at the F-35 schoolhouse at Eglin AFB, Fla., announced F-35 prime contractor Lockheed Martin. “The jet handles well and is very easy to fly. I’m looking forward to testing the combat capabilities of the F-35 over the next few years at Edwards,” said Miller in the company’s July 11 release. Miller is an 11-year airman with more than 1,300 flight hours in the F-16, according to the release. “[Miller’s flight] is significant because it shows the program is maturing rapidly and highlights the successful implementation of a world-class training program and development of the F-35 Lightning II for the combat air forces,” said Col. Todd Canterbury, commander of Eglin’s 33rd Fighter Wing.

 

Original Air Force One “Decaying” Without Hangar In Southern Arizona

AIAA Daily Launch    15 July 2013

The AP (7/14) reports aircraft enthusiasts lamented the fact that the original presidential Air Force One, built in 1948, has not found a suitable home while it sits without a hangar in a southern Arizona field, “decaying under the sun,” The field is part of the Marana Regional Airport, where it has been sitting as part of a lease agreement since a failed auction attempt in 2005. Caretaker Timothy Coons says it would take “$200,000 and 30 days of work by a team of mechanics to restore” the famous airplane, dubbed the Columbine II and currently owned by an individual from Santa Fe.

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