Ontic Appoints New General Manager at Creedmoor Site

Ontic, a leading licensor and manufacturer of complex engineered parts for the global aerospace and defense industries, has appointed Joshua Florio as general manager for their Creedmoor site in North Carolina.

Florio will be responsible for the day-to-day running of Ontic’s Creedmoor site which specializes in new spares and the development of new original equipment for predominantly military and commercial customers. Ontic’s Creedmoor site is also home to its Firstmark, Twin Commander and Aircraft Belts Inc. brands which support various electro-mechanical, seatbelt and spares for the military, civil and commercial aerospace markets.

Joining Ontic from AAR’s Landing Gear Services business, Florio’s experience in both original and non-core aerospace, and technical engineering as well as management and strategic positions, gives him the perfect foundation to lead the Creedmoor site through its growth journey.

“Ontic’s business model of focusing on product lines that allow OEMs to focus on developing new technologies plays a critical part in the aircraft lifecycle and the evolution of the aerospace industry. I’m excited to get stuck into a business that requires creativity and agility; a challenge I find highly intriguing.”

Ontic COO Brian Sartain said, “Our customers expect the highest level of quality and delivery, and Joshua’s track record speaks for itself when it comes to optimizing high mix, low volume environments so we’re very excited to have him leading Creedmoor.”

Ontic’s Creedmoor site has recently undergone major renovations, paving the way for growth at the Creedmoor site as Ontic looks to expand operations there.

He will take up his post on September 11, 2023.

BotFactory Secures $1.25 Million SBIR Phase II Contract

BotFactory announced it has been selected by AFWERX for an SBIR Phase II in the amount of $1.25 million focused on Ultra-Fast Additive Manufacturing of Electronics with Correction and Validation to address the most pressing challenges in the Department of the Air Force (DAF).

The Air Force Research Laboratory and AFWERX have partnered to streamline the Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) and Small Business Technology Transfer (STTR) process by accelerating the small business experience through faster proposal to award timelines, changing the pool of potential applicants by expanding opportunities to small business and eliminating bureaucratic overhead by continually implementing process improvement changes in contract execution. The DAF began offering the Open Topic SBIR/STTR program in 2018 which expanded the range of innovations the DAF funded and now on July 25th, 2023, BotFactory will start its journey to create and provide innovative capabilities that will strengthen the national defense of the United States of America.

“This SBIR Phase II award from AFWERX represents a significant milestone for BotFactory Inc. It not only validates our leadership in Additive manufacturing of Electronics but also entrusts us with a vital role in enhancing the technological capabilities of the Department of the Air Force. We are committed to delivering innovative solutions that will strengthen the national defense infrastructure and look forward to a successful collaboration,” said Carlos Ospina, CEO, BotFactory Inc.

(Mandatory disclaimer) “The views expressed are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of the Department of the Air Force, the Department of Defense, or the U.S. government.”

Royal Air Force Assists in the Repatriation of Critically Endangered Kemps-Ridley Turtle

RAF Valley in Anglesey and RAF Northolt in London, assisted in two stages of an extraordinary relay – that resulted in the rehabilitation of one of the world’s most endangered animals back into the wild and to the warm waters of the Gulf of Mexico.

A Kemps-Ridley turtle was found washed up on Talacre beach, near Prestatyn, N. Wales nearly two years ago and has been dubbed ‘Tally’ in honor of that link. It was initially believed to be dead but thanks to some quick thinking it was recovered owing to the timely intervention of British Divers Marine Life Rescue expert Gem Simmons — who now acts as an unpaid conservation advisor to RAF Valley, an airfield that borders a considerable nature reserve. The animal was then transferred to Anglesey Sea Zoo — where it has been nursed back to health thanks to the dedication of Sea Zoo Director Frankie Hobro and her team.

Photographed here is Tally & Tonni the rare sea turtles that have washed up on Anglesey. They are currently being looked after at the Sea Zoo but are hoping for RAF transport home soon.

At the request of Anglesey Sea Zoo and wildlife protection organizations in the United States, the RAF has agreed to assist in a key stage of the rehabilitation of this critically endangered turtle. In what the lead US turtle rescue charity Director Ken Andrews describes as the “furthest and most complex repatriation effort they have ever been involved in.”

In the early hours of Wednesday morning August 30, RAF Valley will provide a police escort from Sea Zoo to RAF Valley and then a team of volunteer pilots will transfer the animal from RAF Valley to RAF Northolt for onward transit to Heathrow and thence a scheduled flight to Texas ahead of release.

Ken Andrews of the U.S. Charity ‘Turtles fly too’ said we are indebted to the RAF for their valuable time and assistance here, both in applying their military planning and logistical skills to this operation and in providing practical help in ensuring the best prospects for the animal by allowing it to fly from RAF Valley, as a road move of the animal overland would have added considerably to the animal’s stress levels and disruption

Group Captain Matt Hoare, RAF Valley’s Station Commander said: “This is clearly not core Royal Air Force business, but my team here at Valley have been delighted to assist with this most worthy venture.  It is probably worth noting that the repatriation means that Valley (and RAF Northolt) would have played a small part in helping save what the lead US turtle rescue charity described to us this morning as one of the most endangered of all sea turtles in the world’s oceans, with only 1 in 1000 making it to Tally’s age; indeed, it would difficult to imagine a more threatened animal. We look forward to being able to monitor its progress.”

Acting Sergeant Beth Roberts, who has been involved in planning this from the start, said:  “it has given us all a spring in our step to know we are helping in this way and it has been a privilege to work with these other international agencies, wildlife charities and Anglesey Sea Zoo — to assist with this worthwhile project. God Speed Tally!!”

Mary Kay Skoruppa, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service’s Texas Sea Turtle Coordinator added: “Thanks to the response of a great group of international partners and volunteers, Tally is alive and ready to come home.”

Kemp’s ridley sea turtles are the smallest and one of the most endangered species of sea turtles in the world.

Though primarily found in the Gulf of Mexico and coastal waters of eastern North America, juvenile Kemp’s ridleys sometimes get swept up in the powerful Gulf Stream and are carried all the way across the Atlantic.

If all goes well, the international team of partners along with Dr. Donna Shaver, the Texas Sea Turtle Stranding Coordinator from Padre Island National Seashore, are planning to meet in Galveston to celebrate Tally’s release back into the wild in early September.

“An endangered species is one that is at risk of extinction in the near future, so every individual counts,” Skoruppa said. “We are incredibly thankful for all the volunteers and partners who have given Tally a second chance at life; from the dog walker in Wales who reported the turtle, to Turtles Fly Too who are generously flying her back to Texas. We hope that Tally will grow to maturity and return to nest on a Texas beach in a few years to help ensure her species’ survival into the future.”

Texas A&M University at Galveston’s Gulf Center for Sea Turtle Research will attach a tracking device to monitor its movements after release.

Laser Photonics’ Introduces DefenseTech MLRI-2000 Tool for Defense Industry MRO

Laser Photonics, a developer of CleanTech laser systems for laser cleaning, has recently launched its DefenseTech Missile Laser Rust Inhibitor (MLRI) 2000 laser system.

“Corrosion is an issue that continues to plague the defense industry and the MLRI-2000 is the perfect solution to this problem,” said Wayne Tupuola, chief executive officer of Laser Photonics. “With this product, industry professionals can effectively prolong the lifespan and performance of missiles and other equipment.”

The MLRI-2000 laser cleaning system created by Laser Photonics is the ideal solution to the military and defense industry’s unique maintenance-related challenges. This technology is able to remove corrosion and rust from the surface of missiles and other equipment without damaging the underlying material. Corrosion is a multibillion-dollar issue that affects military readiness by taking critical weapon systems out of action and creating safety hazards. With the MLRI-2000, operators can tackle all of this while eliminating the health and safety concerns that come with using traditional methods.

Missile Laser Rust Inhibitor LPC-MLRI

The MLRI is a handheld laser cleaning machine and surface preparation system designed to remove rust, paint, and other elements from a variety of surface types. Laser Photonics DefenseTech cleaning equipment provides a safe and effective solution for all branches of the military to maintain and operate vehicles, aircraft, ships, equipment and more. Laser cleaning is faster, safer, and more efficient than traditional cleaning methods.

United States Air Force Awards Pacific Propeller$74M 54H60 Series Propeller Overhaul Contract

The United States Air Force has awarded Pacific Propeller International (PPI) a sole-source five-year $74 million dollar repair and overhaul contract supporting foreign militaries operating the Lockheed C-130 with 54H60 propeller and components. For decades, global C-130 operators have used the tough, reliable 54H60 Hamilton Standard propeller system in a wide range of operating environments.

The effort will provide overhaul repair capability for the United States Air Force (USAF) and multiple Foreign Military Sales (FMS) customers throughout the world by establishing a worldwide solution to accomplish depot-level maintenance (DLM), consisting of, but not limited to, inspection/repair/overhaul/transportation and modification of 54H60 Series Propellers, Propeller Blades, and Integrated Oil Control (IOC), including applicable Safety of Flight (SoF) modification, and Time Compliance Technical Orders (TCTOs).

With 50+ years’ experience maintaining this propeller, PPI is recognized as the industry leader and already well-established internationally with the C-130 community.  “This dynamic new FMS maintenance channel efficiently provides operators a smooth link to our experienced, technical experts, dedicated support team and state-of-the-art facility and equipment,” states Jeff Heikke, PPI and business group CEO.  “Our goal was to incorporate new, stringent technical and inspection standards while improving throughput and turn time for our customers.”

Although the program is primarily focused on foreign military sales, the USAF has the option to utilize the PPI contract for MRO services supporting urgent or overflow requirements for the U.S. military C-130 fleet.

Buddy Tobin, PPI’s vice president sales, knows clearly the customers’ needs and recognizes the solutions and value this contract provides.  “We understand military fleet readiness is the highest priority. As the premiere MRO facility for 54H60 propeller services, our reputation delivering safe, high-quality props, and having the resources, assets, and production to back it up were essential during preparation and negotiation.” PPI’s international reputation was built on strong relationships and face-to-face discussions.  “Our team is ready to meet with each FMS Country Manager and operator directly,” adds Buddy Tobin.

“Having unmatched MRO services and the most efficient delivery turn times of propeller systems in the industry, with two complete production lines, is not only a function of capacity and productivity, but it also relies on having the necessary parts and components on-hand,” says Jared Flynn, PPI’s general manager. “Our team has done a fantastic job of preparing for the workflow, and a 54H60 parts inventory second to none. Sourcing challenges had to be resolved and we did just that. We are ready.” 

Barnes Aerospace Announces U.S. Military Aftermarket Agreement with Blue Raven Solutions

Barnes Aerospace secured an agreement to partner with Blue Raven Solutions. The two businesses entered a U.S. military Aftermarket distribution agreement for Barnes Aerospace products. This agreement helps Barnes Aerospace grow its U.S. military Aftermarket business through Blue Raven Solutions’ tech-enabled, scalable supply chain solutions across various platforms that support the warfighter, the nation, and commercial customers.

Under the terms of the agreement, Barnes Aerospace appointed Blue Raven Solutions as an exclusive distributor of Barnes Aerospace products directly to the DLA Aviation, DLA Land and Maritime, DLA Troop Support divisions, and all other U.S. military agencies for Aftermarket sales. Barnes Aerospace will maintain its existing contracts and relationships with the OEM customers and, indirectly, the U.S. military agencies.

“Barnes Aerospace is honored to announce an agreement to partner with Blue Raven Solutions,” said Ian Reason, senior vice president, Barnes and President, Barnes Aerospace. “Their proven legacy of driving supply chain transformation through intelligent systems to ensure customers are always ready will help Barnes Aerospace make more of its products and services available to the U.S. military aftermarket. We are grateful and proud of Blue Raven Solutions’ choice to partner with Barnes Aerospace and their confidence in our ability to grow this market better together.”

By leveraging Blue Raven Solutions’ strong heritage in the Military Aftermarket and intelligent systems, Barnes Aerospace says it is well-positioned to meet the requirements of the U.S. military aftermarket.

Germany Renews A400M In-Service Support Contract with Airbus

The Federal Office of Bundeswehr Equipment, Information Technology and In-Service Support (BAAINBw) in Koblenz, Germany has awarded Airbus with a contract renewal for the Luftwaffe’s A400M In-Service Support. The contract has a duration of 7.5 years and serves as an extension of the A400M In-Service Support contract that had been in place since December 2014.

“This contract extension shows a long-term commitment of the German government to the A400M. Together with the customer, we have made big strides in recent years to improve availability as well as the operational capabilities of the A400M, which has become an indispensable asset in Germany’s air force inventory”, said Jean-Brice Dumont, Head of Military Air Systems of Airbus Defence and Space. “This contract allows us to deepen our fruitful cooperation which, I believe, can serve as a role model of how industry and customers can work together successfully.”

The industrial technical support of the German Air Force A400M fleet covers a wide range of services provided by the Airbus Support Centre in Wunstorf Air Base and the central Centres of Competence in Getafe, Spain.

Airbus will ensure full coverage of scheduled Maintenance, Repair and Overhaul (MRO) services from its main MRO base in Manching, near Munich as well as at Wunstorf Air Base, near Hannover, Germany and at Hannover Airport.

The contract also foresees the establishment of a new A400M maintenance facility in direct proximity to Wunstorf Air Base. Commencing operations in 2027, the facility will perform MRO services and also host the Airbus A400M Support Centre with a total workforce of approximately 300 who will work hand in glove with suppliers and customer representatives. Construction work will commence with immediate effect.

Germany is the biggest customer of the A400M. Currently, the Luftwaffe operates 40 A400M out of a total of 53 aircraft on order. The entire fleet operates out of Wunstorf Air Base which is home to the Air Transport Wing 62 (Lufttransportgeschwader 62). 

Dassault Aviation and the French Armed Forces’ Aircraft Maintenance Division (DMAé ) are Integrating Drone Inspections

Since 2019, the Aircraft Maintenance Division has entrusted manufacturer Dassault Aviation with the vertical agreement on life-cycle maintenance for Rafale aircraft (MCO Ravel). Under this contract, Dassault Aviation and the Aircraft Maintenance Division are implementing the AirScan automated airframe inspection service, of which Donecle drones are a cornerstone. This solution simplifies the visual inspection of Rafale aircraft for the French Air and Space Force (AAE) and the French Navy.

It is the result of close collaboration between Dassault Aviation and Donecle for the development and operational validation of AirScan, a service that combines Donecle’s automated drones and artificial intelligence algorithms with Dassault Aviation’s technical expertise and software solutions.

Donecle and Dassault Aviation have been working on the use of drones for airframe inspections for the past five years, and currently cover the Rafale, the Atlantique 2 and the Falcon family. In 2020, an initial agreement was signed to develop and test the solution on the Rafale as part of the aircraft’s “F4 standard” modernisation programme. This was carried out under the supervision of the French Defence Procurement Agency (DGA). Under this contract, the drones were deployed on a trial basis at various air and naval bases, in order to identify constraints and refine user requirements. The next stage of the program saw the development of a navalized drone kit to enable autonomous drones to be used on board the Charles de Gaulle aircraft carrier during operational missions. After two sea trials, these developments validated the drones’ ability to inspect Rafale airframes at sea — a world first,” said Matthieu Claybrough, Donecle’s CEO. “The order received under the Ravel contract marks both the success of several years of collaborative development and the start of our drones’ operational service for the French armed forces. The size and duration of this contract reflect the confidence in and benefits of AirScan. This announcement will no doubt contribute to our growing reputation, as this success consolidates our strong expansion, including in the defence sector.”

Under this contract, around ten drone kits will be distributed between the various Rafale bases and the Charles de Gaulle aircraft carrier. The integration of these technologies is helping to digitise maintenance, with the AirScan service gradually linking up with the various systems already in place.

This major step forward is part of a shared commitment by Dassault Aviation and the Aircraft Maintenance Division to further improve aircraft availability for the French armed forces.

“Our duty as defence contractors is to support our armed forces. The vertical agreements underpinning these life-cycle contracts are based on the principles of a single prime contractor, comprehensive services and a long service life,” Bruno Chevalier, Senior Executive Vice President, Military Customer Support at Dassault Aviation, said. “They reflect a strong commitment to the long-term availability of fleets and the support system. We need to modernize our resources if we are to meet this commitment, and it is essential that we bring our capacity for innovation to our armed forces. This first contract for the AirScan service on the Rafale paves the way for the modernization of resources and services deployed on other Dassault Aviation aircraft, whether civil or military.”

RTX Selected for Crossover Task Order Under NASA xEVAS Contract

Collins Aerospace, an RTX business, with partners ILC Dover and Oceaneering, announced recently it has been awarded a new task order under NASA’s Exploration Extravehicular Activity Services (xEVAS) contract to modify the company’s current spacesuit to support lunar endeavors.

The follow-on task order allows Collins to add on to the company’s new spacesuit design, developing elements that are compatible for use on the lunar surface as part of NASA’s Artemis missions.

“Our next-generation spacesuit design is nearly 90% compatible with a lunar mission,” said Dave Romero, director, EVA & Human Surface Mobility Systems for Collins Aerospace. “This formal contract award will support continued efforts to modify our next-generation spacesuit, making it suitable to tasks on the Moon.”

Collins was awarded a task order valued at five million dollars, following a proposal process that required the company to identify the methodologies to develop a crossover product. 

Collins’ next-generation suit is lower in weight than the current extravehicular mobility unit and will improve astronaut efficiency, range of motion, and comfort. Designed to fit nearly any body type, it also has an open architecture design that enables the suit to be easily modified as missions change and evolve.

As NASA and Collins continue to advance the xEVAS program with events like Collins’ upcoming Critical Design Review and testing, such as a thermal vacuum test and underwater tests held at NASA’s Neutral Buoyancy Lab, Collins stands ready to help NASA and its international and commercial partners from low Earth Orbit to deep space.

Zulu Pods, Inc. Announces Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) Award from the Department of the Navy

Zulu Pods, Inc. (ZPI) has been awarded a Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) contract from the Department of the Navy. The objective of the project is to develop new and innovative lubricating fluid supply/delivery system technologies for rolling element bearings in small Unmanned Aerial Vehicle (UAV) engines and/or attritable/expendable weapon systems to replace current architectures – thereby reducing overall system weight, cost, complexity and maintenance requirements/burden due to fluid leaks and lubricant shelf life during extended storage.

While numerous efforts have been made into enabling oil-free technologies and alternative bearings, rolling element bearings utilizing fluid lubrication remain prevalent within U.S. Navy platforms. Fluid-lubricated rolling element bearings provide excellent load-carrying capacity, low friction operation and damping properties when properly lubricated. Novel delivery methods for lubricants could allow for realization of the advantages of rolling element bearings without the drawbacks of the supporting hardware typically required to provide lubrication supply.

Traditional flow-through and recirculating rolling element bearing lubrication systems which utilize pressurized oil and/or fuel require parts such as supply/scavenge pumps, reservoirs, sumps, plumbing/pipes, and seals, which can account for up to 30% of overall propulsion system weight, volume, and cost in small limited-life engines. In addition, the shelf-life limitations of lubricants used in these systems (such as oil, fuel-oil mixtures, grease) can lead to corrosion or increased maintenance actions during long-term storage. Innovative technologies which enable replacement of traditional lubrication schemes for small, limited-life engines and attritable weapon systems are being sought to reduce total system ownership cost.

The Zulu Pod is the world’s first modular fluid delivery system that combines the function of a reservoir, pump, and nozzle into a single, self-contained, self-pressurized and hermetically sealed packaged oil delivery system. The Zulu Pod is lighter, placed right in the working zone of the engine bearing or gear compartment, and meters the minimum amount of lubrication required for optimal performance. Zulu Pods can be used for primary lubrication on limited life engines, backup lubrication during a loss of lubrication event, or supplemental lubrication to extend oil interruption capability.

The award will allow ZPI to continue development and subscale testing of their pod technology in tandem with small engine Original Equipment Manufacturers (OEMs) to support technology transitions and future commercialization within both the military and commercial small UAV markets.