Category: Aerospace

Ball Corp. reports $369M in net income for second quarter

BROOMFIELD — Ball Corp. (NYSE: BLL) on Thursday reported net earnings of $369 million, or $2.54 per share, for its second quarter that ended June 30.

The Broomfield-based can manufacturer generated $2.03 billion in revenue for the quarter.

The net earnings included after-tax income of $217 million, or $1.49 per diluted share, associated with the sale of certain assets required by regulators before they approved Ball’s acquisition of London-based metal beverage-can maker Rexam for $6.1 billion in cash and equity at the end of June.

Following the deal, Ball became the largest manufacturer of beverage cans in the world.

By comparison, during the second quarter of last year, Ball Corp. generated $2.2 billion in revenue and net earnings of $160 million, or $1.60 per share.

Ball Corp.’s quarterly results included Ball Aerospace and Technologies Corp., a subsidiary based in Boulder, that generated net earnings of $19 million on sales of $193 million for the second quarter, compared with net earnings of $20 million on sales of $230 million in the second quarter of 2015.

“Our strong second-quarter results, the completion of legacy metal packaging growth projects, a robust aerospace backlog and the recent Rexam acquisition provide a very solid foundation for a multiyear, value-compounding growth period for our company and our shareholders,” John A. Hayes, Ball Corp.’s chairman, president and chief executive, said in a prepared statement.

Hayes said one month into the acquisition integration that business-related services and manufacturing operations are running smoothly. “The past 17 months of planning have evolved into action, and the synergy execution process is well underway in all value-capture work streams.”

Woodward sees net-income boost in third fiscal quarter

FORT COLLINS – Woodward Inc. on Wednesday posted net income of $51 million for its third fiscal quarter ending June 30, a boost of $7 million over the same period a year ago.

That was thanks to a $12 million increase in earnings for the Fort Collins-based manufacturer’s aerospace segment, which offset sales and income declines in Woodward’s industrial segment.

Woodward (Nasdaq: WWD) makes components and control-system solutions geared toward energy efficiency for the aerospace and industrial markets.

The company’s third-quarter profit equated to 81 cents per share, up from 66 cents per share a year earlier. Revenue rose 3 percent to $508 million.

Strength in the aerospace segment was attributed mainly to strong defense sales. The segment saw sales increase 7 percent from a year ago to $309 million. But a declining natural-gas truck market in China helped cause industrial sales to slide 4 percent from last year.

Woodward officials reaffirmed guidance for the full 2016 fiscal year, projecting earnings of from $2.75 to $2.95 per share.

Woodward shares closed at $59.42 Wednesday, up 12 cents from the previous day.

Boulder-based Ball Aerospace expanding Maryland operations

BOULDER — Ball Aerospace & Technologies Corp. on Tuesday said it will increase its footprint in the Washington, D.C., metro area.

Boulder-based Ball Aerospace, a subsidiary of Broomfield-based Ball Corp. (NYSE: BLL), will move its recently acquired engineering cyber firm Wavefront Technologies and its 110 employees from Annapolis Junction to a larger location in Columbia, Md.

“Ball Aerospace is expanding and hiring,” said Debra Facktor Lepore, vice president and general manager for strategic operations. “Wavefront is a terrific addition to the Ball family with outstanding capabilities, and our new offices will provide the flexibility we need for future growth.”

Wavefront is an engineering services firm that provides systems and network engineering, software development and analytical services for cyber and mission-focused programs within the U.S. government and commercial industries.

Ball is hiring systems engineers, software developers, computer scientists, intelligence analysts and experts in cyber security for the new offices in Maryland.

Ball Aerospace acquired Wavefront Technologies in February for an undisclosed amount to become part of Ball Aerospace’s Systems Engineering Solutions business unit, which has the bulk of its 600 employees in Dayton, Ohio.

Ball’s SES business unit works primarily with Wright-Patterson Air Force Base in Ohio and Kirkland Air Force Base in New Mexico, analyzing data from space, air and land to create visualizations and provide actionable intelligence for the military.

Broomfield-based Pilatus breaks ground on new facility, to add 60 jobs by 2020

BROOMFIELD — Pilatus Business Aircraft Ltd. last week broke ground on a new 118,000-square-foot facility at Rocky Mountain Metropolitan Airport that is expected to accommodate the addition of 60 jobs at the Broomfield-based company by 2020.

The new facility, slated for completion in the spring of 2018, will help Pilatus consolidate its operations at the airport, where it leases 14 different hangars and about 75 percent of the terminal building now. But it will also provide added space as the company brings a new aircraft — the PC-24 twin-engine jet — online next year.

Pilatus Business Aircraft is a wholly owned subsidiary of Swiss company Pilatus Aircraft Ltd., which had sales of about $1.1 billion last year. Founded in 1996, the local subsidiary is responsible for sales, marketing and servicing of Pilatus’ PC-12 single-engine turbo-prop planes in North and South America. The local operations are also responsible for finishing interior and exterior work to customer specifications for about 70 percent of the PC-12s that come off the production line in Switzerland.

Pilatus, 11900 Airport Way, employs about 80 people in Broomfield now, and aims to ramp up to 140 once the new facility is at full production, said Tom Aniello, vice president of marketing for the local firm.

Rocky Mountain Metropolitan Airport lies along the border of Broomfield and Jefferson counties, and is owned and operated by Jefferson County.

Pilatus’ new facility will be on the west side of the airport near Simms Street and Colorado Highway 128 on Jefferson County land. Pilatus will lease the land from the airport, and own the building. The company has not disclosed the cost of the new building.

Tectonic Management Group of Wheat Ridge is managing design and construction services for the new facility.

“Pilatus has enjoyed steady growth in the business aviation market in our 20 years at Rocky Mountain Metropolitan Airport, and we are delighted to have the confidence to expand our operations and employment here in Jefferson County,” Pilatus Business Aircraft president and CEO Thomas Bosshard said in a prepared statement.

Hardware developed by CU Boulder launched by SpaceX rocket

BOULDER — High-tech space hardware designed and built at the University of Colorado Boulder for biomedical experiments was launched aboard the commercial SpaceX Dragon capsule to the International Space Station early Monday morning.

A Falcon 9 rocket built by SpaceX carried the Dragon capsule into space from Cape Canaveral, Fla.

Developed by BioServe Space Technologies, a center headquartered in the aerospace engineering sciences department, the hardware will support experiments ranging from the mitigation of bone loss in space to the effects of low gravity on stem cell-derived heart cells.

The BioServe hardware includes a customized laboratory microscope that will allow researchers on the space station to observe differences between biological structures that have similar levels of transparency, said BioServe’s director Louis Stodieck. In addition, researchers and students at the NASA-sponsored center developed an atmosphere control module that will enable the successful culturing of mammalian cells in orbit.

The bone loss mitigation experiment is being directed by University of Minnesota professor Bruce Hammer to test the accuracy of a new device that simulates microgravity for cell and tissue cultures by manipulating magnetic fields in space.

The heart experiment, led by doctoral student Arun Sharma of Stanford University, is designed to measure shape and behavior changes in heart cells in microgravity, research that has implications for both astronauts and people on Earth.

Hickenlooper dubs Aug. 1-5 Tech Week in Colorado

DENVER – Gov. John Hickenlooper has proclaimed the week of Aug. 1-5 as Tech Week in Colorado to highlight the entrepreneurs and companies that are helping transform the state into a major tech hub.

Tech and “tech-enabled” businesses around the state are being encouraged to host events during the week – ranging from happy hours to demonstrations to pitch contests to tours.

Those events can be submitted for promotion through www.coloradotechweek.org. Businesses can also submit stories on the site of how Colorado has helped grow their companies.

In addition, the Colorado Technology Association will host its second annual Colorado Tech Tour, stopping in five regions over five days for events and stops at local businesses.

“We know technology underpins much of Colorado’s economic progress today, and will increasingly do so in the future,” Hickenlooper said in a news release. “Tech week is a catalyst for showcasing the real impact of technology in our lives, and in helping make Colorado one of the nation’s premier technology-inspired hubs.”

More information on Tech Week and the Tech Tour can be attained by contacting the CTA at 303-592-4070 or colotech@coloradotechnology.org.

Sierra Nevada in talks with United Nations about Dream Chaser missions

LOUISVILLE — Sierra Nevada Corp. may get yet another chance to chase its dream.

The Sparks, Nev.-based company, which has a space systems division in Louisville, announced on Tuesday that it is talking with an agency of the United Nations about using its Dream Chaser reusable orbital spacecraft to host payloads from U.N. member countries.

Sierra Nevada had lost out on one big contract with NASA in 2014 for use of the Dream Chaser, but won one with the space agency in January. The new memorandum of understanding with the U.N.’s Office for Outer Space Affairs would define one or more low-orbital missions for the company’s flexible space utility vehicle and transportation system.

Under the agreement, the U.N. agency and Sierra Nevada will work with member countries to develop an interface control document and payload hosting guide to allow payloads developed by participating countries to be hosted and operated on a dedicated mission, providing those countries affordable access to space, according to an SNC media statement.

Sierra Nevada “is honored to partner with UNOOSA under our Dream Chaser Global Initiative to offer access to space to a wide range of countries, from those with well-defined space programs and objectives, to developing countries who would like the social and economic benefits of a space program without the time and financial burden of developing the necessary infrastructure,” said Mark Sirangelo, vice president of Sierra Nevada’s Space Systems business area, in a prepared statement. “Our vison, in partnership with the U.N., is to provide U.N. member countries affordable access to space and a range of multi-mission opportunities using the Dream Chaser spacecraft to host a wide range of payloads. Countries will be able to customize their participation level commensurate with the maturity of their space capabilities and national desires, while engaging their universities, industrial companies and government laboratories, and most importantly, their people.

“We offer a complete turnkey solution for participants, providing not only the spacecraft, but all aspects of flight including mission planning and operations.”

The company in January received a contract from NASA to provide at least six cargo-delivery, return and disposal services to and from the International Space Station, using the Dream Chaser. It competed with four aerospace industry giants for NASA’s Commercial Resupply Services 2 contract to transport pressurized and unpressurized cargo to the space station through 2024.

Dream Chaser’s future had been in doubt in September 2014 when NASA snubbed Sierra Nevada and awarded $6.8 billion in contracts to Boeing Corp. and Space Exploration Technologies to build the next spacecraft that will send astronauts into orbit from American soil. But Sierra Nevada rebounded, unveiling a more versatile, unmanned cargo-only version of Dream Chaser with folding wings and an added cargo module attached to the back.

Boulder-based SAS Manufacturing opens plant in Englewood

BOULDER — SAS Manufacturing LLC, a 10-year-old Boulder-based manufacturing company that serves aerospace and other industries, has opened a facility in Englewood equipped with 3-D printers and automated milling machines.

SAS Manufacturing, a subsidiary of Special Aerospace Services LLC, bought the 12,500-square-foot building at 3737 S. Inca St. in 2015 from C&C Manufacturing, a nearly half-century-old business, and began upgrading the equipment and processes to meet the standards of clients in aerospace, aviation, energy, defense and the U.S. government.

The facility soon will offer clients a 24/7 online platform to view the status of manufacturing projects in real time, company officials said.

“Advanced manufacturing in the 21st century requires integrating the latest automated equipment into a production process that is open and transparent to the client,” said Heather Bulk, president and chief executive of SAS Manufacturing. “Our platform interface will give clients instant access to job status, material tracing and supplier certification data at every step of the process.”

The company in August is expecting delivery of a monoBLOCK 5-axis milling machine from DMG MORI, which it describes as “one of the most precise computerized numerical-control metal-fabrication devices in the world.” Subtractive metal milling remains an essential manufacturing process in aerospace and other sectors where source material traceability is critical.

By late summer, SAS Manufacturing expects to be able to handle projects related to rapid prototyping and 3-D printing, design and precision machining, assembly and component testing at the facility.

“The SAS team can take a client’s concept from design and prototyping to testing and production in a few weeks,” Bulk said. “That same process used to take months with a third-party manufacturing shop involved.”

Special Aerospace Services LLC has offices at 3005 30th St. in Boulder, and its engineers work onsite with clients. It and its subsidiary employ about 60 people.

Things are looking up for a drone takeover

We’ve all seen them in the news: A drone lands on the White House lawn. Drone racing is the next sport of the modern age. Dutch police train eagles to attack surveillance drones. A drone is used to drop illegal drugs into an Ohio prison yard. Amazon plans to use drones to deliver packages. Google announces the use of suborbital drones to broadcast wifi to remote areas of the planet …

Unmanned aerial vehicles once were a small recreational niche but now are becoming the headlines of major stories in security, technology, sports and overall controversy. So what has caused such an accelerated market growth in these small, yet powerful devices?

Advancements in technology. The features and technology used in drones are rapidly developing, exceeding even the smartphone industry. It seems that every year, new devices hit the market with improved components and at a lower sticker price. Some drones now utilize 4K video recordings and have the ability to set GPS coordinates to accurately record precise footage and measurements. eHang, a Chinese company, is even testing an automated drone large enough to carry humans (for an entry price of $200,000 to $300,000). Much of this advancement in technology is driven by the consumers whom demand bigger and better products year after year.

Investments are booming. Despite an overwhelming increase in Federal Aviation Administration regulations regarding the usage of UAVs, investments in drone conglomerates have grown exponentially over the past year. According to CB Insights, in 2015 drone startup companies raised more than $450 million, an increase of more than 300 percent versus 2014 data. A January report by BI Intelligence highlights more dramatic figures to consider:

• Projected revenues from drone sales could top $12 billion in 2021.

• Shipments of consumer drones will more than quadruple over the next five years.

• Safety technologies such as geo-fencing and collision avoidance will relax FAA regulations and enable large numbers of drones to take to the sky.

• Sports markets have been stimulated by large investments for competitive drone-racing leagues.

Applications on the rise. Drones continue to fill the skies as demand continues to parallel the amount of manufacturers in the market. As technologies continue to develop, more industries are seeing plausible applications for drone usage. The commercial markets of agriculture, land management, energy, construction, and oil and gas all have found lucrative ways to utilize drones in their respective fortes. Large defense-focused manufacturers also are emerging as government and security entities begin to enter the market.

Expect to see drones trending through more facets of our economy as the year continues. As technology and applications continue to expand, the FAA and government agencies will continue to be pressured to regulate both the commercial and recreational usage of UAVs.

For the recreational enthusiasts: Use common sense when flying these devices for personal use.  Keep your drones under 400 feet in altitude, steer clear of airports, pedestrians and vehicles, and always keep your device in visual sight while operating.

Hans Broman, a sales and marketing strategist at iPoint in Fort Collins, can be reached at hbroman@ipoint-tech.com.

FAA’s new drone rules to ease burdens on commercial operators

The Federal Aviation Administration this week issued new rules that will become effective in August, easing some regulations for operators of drones used commercially.

FAA administrator Michael Huerta called these new rules a “first step,” as regulators work on additional rules that will expand the range of operations.

Tom Dougherty

Tom Dougherty

Tom Dougherty, an attorney with Lewis Roca Rothgerber Christie LLP in Denver, said the new rules largely will replace the FAA’s Section 333 Exemption and Certificate of Waiver or Authorization processes for obtaining approval for commercial small unmanned aircraft operations.

Chief among the changes is elimination of the requirement that the operator have an FAA airman’s certificate, or pilot’s license. Given the time and expense associated with obtaining a pilot’s license, this requirement was a barrier to entry for many commercial operators, Dougherty explained.

Now, an operator must hold a Remote Pilot Airman Certificate with a sUAS (small unmanned aircraft systems) rating, which can be obtained by passing an FAA-approved aeronautical knowledge test, or by holding a current pilot certificate and completing an FAA-approved sUAS online training course.

The aeronautical knowledge test will be available through FAA-approved knowledge test centers around the country on the effective date of the final rules, and the online training for current pilots will be available at www.faasafety.gov.

Other aspects of the final rules include:

• Use of a visual observer is no longer required, but is still advised;

• Drone operations from a moving vehicle are permitted in sparsely populated areas;

• Drone operations 400 feet above ground level are permitted if the drone remains within a 400-foot radius of a structure and no higher than 400 feet above the structure;

• External loads are allowed if the load being carried is securely attached and does not adversely affect the flight performance of the drone;

• And intrastate transportation of property is allowed, but may not be conducted from a moving vehicle.

Many existing rules remain in place, Dougherty said. Commercial drones must still remain clear of other aircraft and not be operated in a careless or reckless manner. They must weigh less than 55 pounds including payload. Drones must remain at or below 400 feet above ground level; fly no faster than 100 mph; operate within certain visibility and cloud clearance requirements; and be subjected to a preflight safety check by the operator.