This episode, we have an interview with the president of the Greater Philadelphia Chapter of Tuskegee Airmen. In the news, more woes for Boeing with FOD discovered in undelivered 737 MAX airplanes and the DOJ is reported to be investigating the company. Also, the Coronavirus continues to disrupt commercial aviation, a solar electric UAV planned to stay aloft for a year, a new tail-rotor design from Bell that should be quieter and safer, and this year’s Collier Trophy nominees are announced.
Tuskegee in Philadelphia: Rising to the Challenge is the story of dozens of Philadelphia-area natives who served as fighter pilots, bombers, nurses, mechanics, and in many other support roles.
Foreign Object Debris (FOD) has been a problem for Boeing. Two-thirds of the undelivered 737 MAX jets that have been inspected were found to contain tools, rags, and boot coverings in fuel tanks.
The Department of Justice wants to know if Boeing knowingly lied to the FAA while seeking certification of the 737 MAX. Boeing’s former 737 MAX chief pilot Mark Forkner was subpoenaed last year to answer questions from federal prosecutors in front of a grand jury. He invoked his Fifth Amendment right against self-incrimination.
More than 200,000 flights, mostly in China, have been canceled as a result of the Coronavirus. Delta, United, and American have halted service to mainland China and Hong Kong. With the resulting decrease in demand, jet fuel prices have fallen 17% in 2020. For an excellent explanation of the virus, see: You’re Likely to Get the Coronavirus.
BAE Systems and Prismatic designed the unmanned solar-powered PHASA-35 airplane, and have tested it at the Royal Australian Air Force’s Woomera in South Australia. A High Altitude, Long Endurance Unmanned Aerial Vehicle (HALE UAV), this “pseudo-satellite” could provide persistent service for defense, security, resource management, and communications. Another high-altitude solar-electric airplane under development is the manned SolarStratos.
Helicopters with a single main rotor need an additional tail rotor to counteract the torque of the main rotor. But the tail rotor contributes a lot of noise and represents a safety hazard on the ground. Bell has come up with a different approach: four smaller shrouded electric fans in the tail.
The National Aeronautic Association announced nine projects that will compete for the Robert J. Collier Trophy:
- Airborne Collision Avoidance System Team
- Bombardier Global 7500
- Gulfstream G500 and G600
- Hubble Space Telescope Team
- magni500 Electric Propulsion System
- Project Heaviside
- Stratolaunch Carrier Aircraft
- The United States Air Force-Boeing X-37B Orbital Test Vehicle Team
- Unmanned Aircraft Systems Traffic Management Team
The Collier Trophy Selection Committee will meet on April 2, 2020, in Arlington, Virginia, and the recipient will be announced publicly the following day. The formal presentation of the Collier Trophy will take place on June 11, 2020, at a location to be determined.