Quantum Systems designs, builds and sells unmanned air vehicles for professional use. Their particular specialty is VTOL designs, i.e., UAVs that take off and land vertically, but then switch to airplane mode for airplane-like speed and range. In this episode we chat with Quantum’s CEO Florian Seibel about their primary drone, the Tron. We focus on the motivation for developing the aircraft, the use cases, as well as design decisions and technical aspects.
Secondary surveillance radar (SSR) is the radar technology used in aviation to query transponders; it forms the backbone of today’s air traffic control infrastructure. Our guest in this episode is Mike Sharples who has been part of the development of the technology and is intimately familiar with the details. We discuss the importance of SSR today, the details of the protocol, the difference between and evolution from Mode A/C to S as well as the relationship to ADS-B.
In this episode we speak with David Baker, who wrote a fascinating book about spy satellites. We cover the political and military context that drove their development, their (known and suspected) capabilities, methods of recovering the images, as well as typical orbits and the sartellites’ ability to change that orbit for quick repositioning.
As part of my trip to the US earlier this year I visited NASA’s Armstrong Flight Research Center at Edwards Air Force Base. I conducted six interviews over two days, those concerning full scale (“real”) aircraft are in this episode. We start out with Kevin Weinert, with whom we talk about the Adaptive Compliant Trailing Edge project, essentially a flap made of flexible materials to save fuel and reduce noise. Next up is Jim Less, one of NASA’s F-15 and F-18 pilots; we chat about his flying and various research projects where the jets are utilized (you can see this part as a continuation of Episode 73, where we chatted with Dick Ewers). Finally, we talk about flying the MQ-9 and RQ-4 unmanned aerial vehicles with the pilots Scott Howe and Hernan Posada.
As part of my trip to the US earlier this year I visited NASA’s Armstrong Flight Research Center at Edwards Air Force Base. I conducted six interviews over two days, the ones concerning subscale research (i.e., on model airplanes) are in this episode. We start with a conversation about flying wings in general and Prandtl-D in particular with Armstrong’s Chief Scientist Al Bowers. Next, we chat about flutter research and the X-56 with project lead Cheng Moua. Finally, we talk to Matt Moholt about his project, the Spanwise Adaptive Wing project.