By Kari Hawkins, Redstone Rocket StaffJuly 22, 2009
Two new buildings on Redstone Arsenal - buildings 4836 and 4838 - represent a major step toward making the Army's Aviation Test Center of Excellence a reality.
The buildings, built at the Redstone Airfield in support of the current Aviation Technical Test Center and the Program Executive Office for Aviation, were officially opened Friday with a ribbon cutting attended by about 50 employees representing ATTC, PEO for Aviation, the Aviation Engineering Directorate, Redstone Technical Test Center and the Aviation and Missile Research Development and Engineering Center. The buildings are part of the Combined Test Team Developmental Flight Test Complex, which will eventually include a flight test hangar and other facilities.
"These buildings fundamentally allow us to change the way we do flight testing in the Army," ATTC commander Col. Chris Sullivan said. "The opportunities these buildings represent for ATTC and RTTC, for PEO Aviation and AMRDEC are tremendous. They are already doing testing here today. These buildings will allow testing to accelerate. We couldn't be more excited about the opportunities they represent and we appreciate the partnership with PEO Aviation to build them."
The buildings were made possible when Sullivan and aviation program executive officer Brig. Gen. Tim Crosby entered their organizations into an agreement to fund building construction, which cost about $1.5 million per building. The buildings were funded as two separate laboratory revitalization projects that address separate aviation testing requirements.
"He took a risk with us," Sullivan said of Crosby.
From the PEO Aviation perspective, the buildings will provide many combined benefits for all organizations involved in aviation testing, said Rusty Weiger, deputy program executive officer for aviation.
"BRAC 2005 called for an Aviation Test Center of Excellence at Redstone Arsenal. This is the first step to getting that," Weiger said.
Referring to acreage adjacent to the buildings and the airfield, Weiger said, "Eventually, I would like to see a PEO Aviation building on the hill so that we're close to the action. There are a few PEO Aviation employees out here now. But I would like to bring all of us out here someday."
Weiger said funding for a new PEO Aviation facility at the airfield is a long way from reality. But, he said, his organization is looking into obtaining workspace in the enhanced use lease facilities that will be built near Gate 9 and not too far from the airfield.
"It's great for our people if we can give them the opportunity to be more hands-on with the aircraft at the airfield," Weiger said.
The construction of buildings 4836 and 4838 was managed by the Garrison's Directorate of Public Works under the supervision of DPW director Joe Davis and project manager Scott Chapman. The construction contractor was CCI, an Alaskan native firm.
"This has been a win-win-win situation for everyone involved," Davis said. "We were able to do this under the new contract vehicle with the Department of the Army that allows us to build facilities needed to support lab testing.
"This is the first of many projects to come that will be built under the laboratory revitalization program. We're working with many labs to get new construction under way. The growth of Redstone Arsenal continues on."
ATTC is in the process of relocating all of the unit's operations to Redstone Arsenal during the next two years.
"ATTC test team personnel and aircraft will arrive here from not only Fort Rucker, but also from various other geographically dispersed test sites around the nation," said Keith Darrow, deputy commander of ATTC, who narrated the ribbon cutting.
"In conjunction with the future, BRAC-funded hangar facility, the two Combined Test Team buildings will facilitate the moves of many of those far-flung government and contractor test team personnel to our centralized flight test site here at Redstone Arsenal."
The buildings each include 7,000 square feet of workspace for about 60 flight test support personnel. Employees are now in the process of moving into the buildings from aviation test sites around the nation and at Fort Rucker.
"Within these two buildings, PEO personnel and aircraft manufacturers' flight test personnel will work among ATTC and AED employees so as to enhance flight test coordination and execution, to dramatically improve communications regarding airworthiness and system safety issues, and to accelerate materiel fielding," Darrow said.
"The buildings represent the realization of a powerful vision - a vision that encompasses the future of government and manufacturer combined flight testing and the future of Redstone Arsenal as the Army's central site for test management and execution."
The future of Army aviation will include several changes as the Army reorganizes its test organizations. At the end of July, ATTC will cease to exist as an Army organization. On Aug. 20, there will be a local ceremony to inactivate RTTC and activate the new provincial Redstone Test Center, which will represent a merger of ATTC and RTTC under the command of Col. Steve Kihara.
"The Department of the Army ordered the activation of the Redstone Test Center on Oct. 1, 2010," Darrow said. "We are doing that early and calling it the provincial Redstone Test Center until that official date. There is so much great synergy from doing this that we are going to get a head start for our customers, which include PEO Aviation, PEO Missiles and Space and AMRDEC."
On Aug. 21, the newly formed Redstone Test Center will break ground for the BRAC-funded flight test hangar. A total of $46.5 million in funding has been set aside for the hangar at the airfield and the new RTC headquarters, which will be located on Martin Road just north of building 4500. The construction contract for these new facilities was signed July 15 with B.L. Harbert of Birmingham, which is currently building the Army Materiel Command facility, also on Martin Road.