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NAA Announces Collier Trophy Nominees

On of the seven nominees for the 2020 Collier Trophy is Garmin’s autoland system, Autonomí. (Courtesy Garmin International/)

Each year, the National Aeronautic Association selects a list of innovative developments or products to compete for the coveted Collier Trophy. The list for 2020 represents a very diverse group of projects: a general aviation avionics product, travel initiatives, space developments, a green fuel, drones and a helicopter. Here is the list of nominees and some details for each.

Bell V-280 Valor

Built for battle, the V-280 Valor is a sleek tilt-rotor aircraft capable of vertical lift. Designed for special ops, attack, medevac and other utility missions, the Valor can go from a hover to a top speed of 280 knots, while covering a range of up to 500 nm.

Boeing Confident Travel Initiative

With SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19, taking a massive toll on the airline industry, Boeing stepped up to provide multiple solutions to help minimize the risk of the virus spreading in the cockpit and cabin. The aviation giant’s Confident Travel Initiative has made the confined spaces of air transport aircraft safer than grocery stores and restaurants, according to a Harvard study, through solutions such as virus killing UV wands, anti-microbial coatings, filtration systems, airflow patterns, disinfecting solutions and more.

Garmin Autoland

Have you ever wished that the airplane you fly could land itself in case, for whatever reason, you become incapacitated or you find yourself in IMC with no way out? Now you can. Garmin’s autoland system, Autonomí is activated with a quick push of a button. The system finds the nearest suitable airport and calculates a flight plan there, avoiding terrain and adverse weather. The system then tracks the airplane along the planned path and lands it on the runway.

Reliable Robotics Remotely Operated Aircraft System (ROAS)

Since 2017, Reliable Robotics has worked to put automation into aircraft with the ultimate goal of expanding the air transport network through smaller, automated aircraft that transport fewer people and lighter cargo loads to small, remote airports. The company has already achieved remotely piloted flight of a Cessna 172 Skyhawk and 208 Caravan.

SpaceX Falcon 9 and Dragon 2

A revolution in space flight was achieved when SpaceX successfully completed return flights with its Falcon 9 rocket. Last year, the company took another step toward revolutionizing space flight by launching the first crew sent to space by a private company, carried inside SpaceX’s Crew Dragon atop the Falcon 9 rocket. After that successful mission, SpaceX followed up with its first operational flight to the International Space Station in November.

U.S. Department of the Air Force Green Propellant Infusion Mission Team

In an effort to fight climate change while continuing space exploration, the U.S. Air Force Research Laboratory at Edwards Air Force Base in California developed a low toxicity propellant for space propulsion systems. Since 2019, NASA, in collaboration with Ball Aerospace, has successfully tested the hydroxyl ammonium nitrate fuel/oxidizer blend, called AF-M315E, in various missions. The rocket fuel is not only cleaner, but might also boost spacecraft performance, NASA says.

Yates Electrospace Corporation’s Silent Arrow

With drone deliveries becoming a fact of life, the need for a variety of delivery systems will grow. Silent Arrow answers the call for larger payloads. The electric delivery system consists of a rectangular box with a tandem wing system that stores inside the box for easy transportation. The drone can be launched from helicopters and airplanes to deliver cargo loads to any location. Silent Arrow currently offers two sizes, the larger of which can transport up to 1,400 pounds of cargo at a very low cost. The Silent Arrow has already been deployed in military and humanitarian missions.

NAA’s Collier Trophy Selection Committee will meet virtually in June to determine the winner of the award. The Collier Trophy was commissioned in 1910 by aviator, humanitarian, and sportsman Robert J. Collier, to inspire the aeronautic industry to reach higher levels of innovation and excellence. Past Collier Trophy winners include legends such as Orville Wright, Howard Hughes, Glenn Curtiss and William Lear, and projects developed by NASA, Gulfstream, Boeing and Cirrus.

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