Saturday, July 13, 2013

New autopilot for NASA aircraft fleet will cost $9.5 million

NASA is moving forward with plans to have American Systems Corp. (ASC) finish development of an autopilot for the agency's T-38 and WB-57 aircraft. The estimated cost of the work is $9.5 million, according to contract documents released on Friday through the Federal Business Opportunities website.

In December, NASA's Johnson Space Center in Houston, Texas, announced its intentions to continue development of a autopilot system for their T-38 and WB-57 aircraft with ASC as the prime contractor.

“A synopsis [for the autopilot work] was posted on Dec. 7, 2012, which resulted in one inquiry from Chippewa Aerospace Inc.,” NASA said in contract documents this week. “After further communications with the government, this potential source acknowledged that they could not satisfy the procurement requirements and withdrew any further interest in serving as the prime contractor.”

NASA intends to integrate the new autopilot system into its 21 T-38 jets to comply with Reduced Vertical Separation Minimum (RVSM) equipment requirements. RVSM compliance is a Federal Aviation Administration requirement to fly in certain airspace. Lack of RVSM compliance restricts the ability of the T-38 to fly in RVSM airspace and limits the full potential of T-38 fuel efficiency. “No operational T-38 autopilot system currently exists in any T-38 fleet, domestically or internationally,” NASA said.

T-38N Talon

The T-38 Talon is a two-seat, twin turbojet, swept-wing, supersonic aircraft originally designed for the United States Air Force (USAF) as a high performance trainer and is fully aerobatic with loop and roll flight capabilities. NASA uses a modified version of the USAF T-38A aircraft (designated the T-38N) primarily for astronaut proficiency training.

WB-57F Canberra

The WB-57F Canberra is a mid-wing, high altitude, long-range aircraft capable of operation for extended periods of time. Due to high altitude performance requirements, an autopilot is essential to ensure the WB-57F stays within certain limited windows of performance. The WB-57F fleet currently has operational autopilots installed, but due to obsolescence issues the autopilot systems have become unsustainable.

The agency will continue to monitor the market for companies that have developed technologies that can meet the requirements of the autopilot programs, but at that this time, they will continue development with ASC.

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Friday, July 12, 2013

Management changes at Gray Television as stock soars in 2013

Gray Television, Inc. announced several management changes at its television stations on Friday.


Gray announced the long-planned retirement of industry leader Don Ray after more than 40 years in the broadcast industry. Ray has served as a regional vice president since 2005 and as the general manager of WSAZ-TV in Charleston/Huntington, West Va., since 1989. Under several different ownerships, including Lee Enterprises and Emmis Communications, Ray worked his way up through the sales ranks at WSAZ-TV, starting as an account executive in 1973. He has held both national sales manager and general sales manager positions there. During his tenure, Ray was named director of sales for Lee in 1999 and served as interim general manager of WFTX in Fort Myers in 2005 for Emmis.

On Aug. 1, Matt Jaquint will fill the general manager position at WSAZ-TV. Ray and Jaquint have been working closely on a smooth transition of leadership at the station since the spring, and Ray has agreed to remain with Gray Television for an additional period to complete that transition effort.

Jaquint was most recently the general manager at Newport Television's KTVX and KUCW in Salt Lake City, Utah. Jaquint led sales as general sales manager for WSAZ from 2002 to 2005, and he was general manager of Gray's WNDU in South Bend, Ind., from 2006 until 2008. He has also worked in the Cedar Rapids, Iowa, and El Paso, Texas markets.

Effective immediately, Gray also appointed the following new vice presidents and general managers:


Don Vesely is now vice president and general manager of NBC affiliate WMTV in Madison, Wis. Vesely has been WMTV's general sales manager since 2008. He began his career in television sales in Rockford, Ill. in 1993, working for both the FOX and NBC stations in the market. He moved to WMTV in Madison as an account executive in 2001, and he became local sales manager the following year.


Heather Peeples is now vice president and general manager of CBS affiliate WCTV in Tallahassee, Fla. Peeples has been the station's general sales manager since 2007. She started in the broadcast industry in 1989 at WTLH in Tallahassee. Peeples spent six years as account executive with the Quad Cities Radio Group in Davenport, Iowa, followed in 1997 by various sales and promotional positions at WFLI-TV in Chattanooga, Tenn. Peeples returned to Tallahassee in 1999 first as an account executive, then local sales manager, and finally general sales manager.


Vic Richards is now vice president and general manager of NBC affiliate WOWT in Omaha, Neb. Richards has been WOWT's director of creative and station operations since 2012. He began his career at KOLN/KGIN in Lincoln in 1996 first in production and then creative services. He moved to WOWT in 1999, where he has held various positions in promotion and operations and management.

KOLN/KGIN and MY affiliate KSNB

Susan Ramsett-Kretz is now vice president and general manager of CBS affiliate KOLN/KGIN and MY affiliate KSNB, all in the Lincoln, Neb. television market, and KNPL in North Platte. Ramsett-Kretz most recently served as station manager at the Lincoln operation. She began her broadcast career in radio news and sales in 1986. Ramsett-Kretz worked in various news positions in the La Crosse- Eau Claire market at both WXOW and WKBT, and as promotions manager at WLAX/WEUX beginning in 1995. She was an evening anchor and news director at Gray's WSAW-TV in Wausau, Wis., between 2001 and 2011, when she moved to Lincoln to become news director for KOLN/KGIN.

Gray Television President and CEO Hilton Howell said, "With the changes announced earlier this week and today, Gray Television is poised to lead the broadcast industry, by exploring new opportunities and building on our past success."

Company stock

Meanwhile, the company's stock shares are on a major upswing in 2013.

Shares of GTN are up 444 percent over the last 52 weeks (July 13, 2012 to July 12, 2013). This year alone, the stock is up 308 percent, closing Friday at $8.99 per share, up 3 percent for the day. GTN has a 52-week low of $1.45 and high of $9.00.

As a side note, GTN is up 72 percent since my article on April 13.

Gray is a television broadcast company headquartered in Atlanta, Ga., that owns and operates television stations broadcasting 45 channels affiliated with one of the "Big 4 Networks" (ABC, CBS, FOX and NBC) and 41 additional channels of programming in 30 television markets.

Disclaimer: This post is provided for information purposes only and should not be used as the basis for any investment decision. I am neither licensed nor qualified to provide investment advice.

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Fire reported aboard Ethiopian Airlines Boeing 787 Dreamliner

The National Transportation Safety Board is sending an agency representative to London's Heathrow airport to assist in investigating a fire aboard an Ethiopian Airlines Boeing 787 Dreamliner. The incident closed the airport for a period of time on Friday.

The runways are now fully re-opened, following an earlier internal fire on-board an aircraft,” airport officials reported on Heathrow's website. “All arrivals and departures were earlier temporarily suspended while airport fire crews attended to the incident. Flights are now operating, but will be subject to delay. The Metropolitan Police Service have advised that there were no passengers on board and no reported injuries.”

The worldwide fleet of 787s was grounded in January due to a series of issues with batteries used aboard the passenger jet. United Airlines put their 787s back into service on May 20 on routes from Houston to other domestic hubs. United then added international 787 flying on the Denver-Tokyo route June 10.

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Wednesday, July 10, 2013

Video: X-47B makes history, lands on deck of aircraft carrier

Northrop Grumman Corp. and the U.S. Navy have completed the first arrested landing of the X-47B Unmanned Combat Air System (UCAS) carrier demonstration aircraft on the deck of the USS George H.W. Bush.

The Northrop Grumman-built aircraft landed at 12:23 p.m. EDT while the aircraft carrier was under way off the coast of Virginia, and marks the latest and most significant achievement for the program during carrier sea trials, which began in May.

"Today's historic carrier landing and our operations aboard USS George H.W. Bush show, beyond a shadow of a doubt, that tailless unmanned aircraft can integrate seamlessly and operate safely from an aircraft carrier at sea," said Capt. Jaime Engdahl, Navy UCAS program manager.

The X-47B aircraft took off from Naval Air Station Patuxent River, Md. (Pax River), Wednesday. A mission operator aboard the carrier took control of the aircraft and monitored the flight operations, which included several planned precision approaches in preparation for the first arrested landing.

During today's testing, the X-47B completed the 35 minute journey from Pax River to the carrier and caught the three-wire with the aircraft's tailhook. The arrested landing effectively brought the aircraft from approximately 145 knots to stop in less than 350 feet.

The arrested landings aboard the Bush mark the third major aviation achievement by the UCAS-D program since May. On May 14, the X-47B became the first unmanned aircraft to be catapult launched from a Nimitz class aircraft carrier. On May 17, the aircraft performed the first in a series of precision approaches and touch-and-go landings on a carrier by an unmanned system.

Northrop Grumman is the Navy's UCAS-D prime contractor. The company designed and produced the program's two X-47B air vehicles. Northrop Grumman's UCAS-D industry team includes Pratt & Whitney, GKN Aerospace, Eaton, General Electric, UTC Aerospace Systems, Dell, Honeywell, Moog, Wind River, Parker Aerospace, Rockwell Collins and Lockheed Martin.

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Monday, July 8, 2013

Video: NTSB shows wreckage from Asiana flight 214

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IAMGOLD Corp. reports death at South America gold mine

IAMGOLD Corp. reported the death of a local contractor employee on Monday at the company's Rosebel gold mine in Suriname, South America. The Rosebel gold mine is located in the mineral rich Brokopondo district in north eastern Suriname.

The accident occurred while clearing trees for the Rosebel tailings pond expansion project,” the company said in a press statement. “No one else was injured during the accident. The company and the contractor have notified the individual's family. The Rosebel mine is offering assistance and support to the individual's family and workforce.”

The Rosebel emergency response team was immediately activated after the incident and internal emergency services personnel were called to the site. Rosebel also notified the relevant government authorities and other stakeholders.

Investigations led by Rosebel have been initiated to determine the cause of the accident. The local authorities have been notified and they will conduct their own investigation.

“The immediate thoughts of management are with the family, friends and co-workers of our colleague,” the company said.

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Families file lawsuits over Boeing 747 crash in Afghanistan

A wrongful death lawsuit was filed on Monday in the Circuit Court of Cook County, Illinois on behalf of the family of an airline employee who perished in the fiery crash of a Boeing 747 cargo plane outside Bagram Air Base, Afghanistan on April 29. The victim, Gary Stockdale, was a mechanic for National Airlines who was aboard the flight when it crashed shortly after takeoff. The suit was filed by Chicago-based Nolan Law Group which is also representing the families of Jamie Lee Brokaw and Rinku Summan, pilots for National Airlines who were among the seven men killed in the crash.

“At the time of the crash, the plane was transporting cargo that included five Mine-Resistant Ambush Protected vehicles weighing nearly 80 tons which were on pallets in the main cargo area of the plane,” Nolan Law Group said in a press statement. “Government investigators have reported that it is likely a shift in the cargo from one of the vehicles breaking loose from its restraints that resulted in the crash.”

The suit alleges that the accident aircraft was unreasonably dangerous and unfit for the transport of high density, rolling cargo and that Boeing's manuals lacked sufficient limitations and warnings related to the transportation of such cargo. The suit further alleges that the airplane's cargo restraint system was faulty, that it was improperly assembled by Boeing during its conversion from a passenger to a cargo aircraft, and that the instructions on the use of the cargo restraint system were inadequate.

Days after the crash, National Airlines released a list of “facts” prior to the Boeing 747's accident. In that list the company said “the cargo contained within the aircraft was properly loaded and secured, and had passed all necessary inspections prior to departing.”

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New satellite communications antenna for B-2 stealth bomber

In a demonstration conducted May 23, Northrop Grumman proved that a new antenna it has developed for the B-2 can establish and maintain communications services with an on-orbit Air Force Advanced EHF (AEHF) communications satellite.

The new active electronically scanned array (AESA) antenna and EHF satellite communications system would allow the B-2 to send and receive battlefield information significantly faster than its current satellite communications system.

"Our demo marks the first time that AESA antenna technology has been used to communicate with the AEHF network," said Byron Chong, Northrop Grumman's B-2 deputy program manager. During the test, he added, Northrop Grumman successfully demonstrated extended data rate (XDR) communications between the AESA antenna and the AEHF satellite at EHF frequencies. XDR communications take advantage of the AEHF satellites' most advanced, most secure signaling protocols and communication waveforms.

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Back to work at Canada gold mine after forest fire extinguished

Goldcorp Inc. announced Monday that a period of rain in the James Bay region of Quebec has extinguished a forest fire that had previously threatened the Éléonore gold mine project. The company evacuated employees from the site on Thursday due to the fire.

“Cooler temperatures and shifting winds have eliminated the smoke at site, and a resumption of fuel and supply deliveries to the site has been authorized by the Public Safety Department,” Goldcorp said in a press statement. “The crew that had remained at site to manage and implement preventive emergency measures remains safe. All infrastructure and equipment at Éléonore, including power and communications, were undamaged. The Éléonore project team will immediately commence the re-mobilization of the project team to site with no material impacts to the construction schedule expected.”

Goldcorp is one of the world's fastest growing senior gold producers.

The Éléonore project is one of the significant gold mine projects in the Goldcorp development pipeline and a key component of the company's next generation of growth projects, according to their website. A 2011 pre-feasibility study update for Éléonore calls for robust, low-cost gold production in the heart of one of the most attractive mining jurisdictions in the world.

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University of Illinois football captain turned NASA astronaut

NASA astronaut Mike Hopkins, a colonel in the U.S. Air Force, is in the final phase of his mission training as he and his crewmates, Russian cosmonauts Oleg Kotov and Sergey Ryazanskiy, prepare for their Sept. 25 launch to the International Space Station aboard a Soyuz spacecraft from the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan.

Hopkins enjoys numerous fitness-related hobbies such as weight lifting, hockey and football -- he was captain of the University of Illinois football team. To share his passion for lifelong fitness, Hopkins is inviting the public to train alongside him in the months leading up to his mission, while in space and through his post-flight rehabilitation.

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Coast Guard helicopter crew aids search for missing man in Texas boat collision

The U.S. Coast Guard, Port Arthur Fire Department and Jefferson County Sheriff's Department are searching for a 56-year-old man after his pleasure craft collided with a tug boat and barge about 500 feet west of Goat Island in Sabine Lake, Sunday.

Missing is John Tran of Bridge City, Texas.

The captain of tug Father Seelos contacted Vessel Traffic Service Port Arthur at approximately 3:30 p.m. EDT notifying them of the collision.

Coast Guard crewmembers are currently searching for the man aboard an MH-65 Dolphin helicopter from Air Station Houston, and Station Sabine Pass's 25-foot Response Boat and 24-foot Special Purpose Craft. The Port Arthur Fire Department dive team and Jefferson County Sheriff's Office Marine Division are also searching.

[UPDATE - 9:32 p.m. EDT - Tuesday]Deputies said late Monday they had found the body of John Tran, a fisherman who went missing after his boat and a barge collided. [Source:]

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Sunday, July 7, 2013

Video: NTSB briefs media on Asiana flight 214

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TV stocks, today's momentum movers

TV broadcast stocks continue to build momentum with new high signals for the long-term investor. But use caution, protecting big gains is always a good idea. Even with signs of a continued upside in TV broadcast stocks, the smart investor knows when to get out. “Out of NXST – been a great run, more than a double,” one investor tweeted on Friday via Twitter.

A few TV stocks worthwhile in 2013:

Gray Television, Inc. (NYSE:GTN) – up 55% since April 13 [Full story]

LIN TV Corp. (NYSE:TVL) – up 48% since Feb. 21 [Full story]

Nexstar Broadcasting Group, Inc. (NASDAQ:NXST) – up 23% since May 12 [Full story

CTC Media, Inc. (NASDAQ:CTCM) – up 22% since Feb. 21 [Full story]

Discovery Communications Inc. (NASDAQ:DISCA) – up 6% since March 5 [Full story]

Disclaimer: This post is provided for information purposes only and should not be used as the basis for any investment decision. I am neither licensed nor qualified to provide investment advice.

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Jet service offers discounts to travelers affected by Asiana crash

A private jet service based in Florida is offering discounted flights for travelers affected by the crash of Asiana Airlines flight 214 on Saturday.

"In an effort to support as many travelers as possible both in the San Francisco area, and those needing to get there, SMART Jets will locate all available private jets and put them into service," said SMART Jets CEO and Co-Founder Sergey Petrossov.

Flights can depart from other local airports, including Oakland International Airport, just 35 minutes from San Francisco International Airport (SFO) where the crash of the Boeing 777 occurred.

Discounts will continue until at least Tuesday, when flight schedules are expected to be back to normal at SFO.

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