This site, as long time readers know, boasts one the world’s most distinguished consulting meteorologists, Bryan Norcross.

“Bryan,” I will frequently say, “Is it going to be nice this weekend?”  Or, “Bryan, how do I get my stupid TV to work?”  (He is a consulting tech-support guru, and just about everything else, too.  How smart he is would be annoying, if it didn’t so often come in handy.)

If hurricanes affect your life, or you’re just interested in the science of them, you’ll find his latest piece at the Washington Post of interest.  The bottom line: hurricane forecasts are getting ever more accurate, which is good — except for the ones that aren’t, that suddenly strengthen unexpectedly just before they hit.

WheelTug’s dormant competitor, Safran, an industry giant, seems to be re-emerging.

That might seem ominous — like the unexpected strengthening of a tropical storm.  But it may actually be good news.

For one thing, it continues to validate the general concept: airplanes should be able to taxi without a tug.

For another, if this article (and its translation from the original French) is accurate, Safran “has renounced to equip the 737 Boeing.”  (Their motors are too big.)  That leaves a great many “737 Boeings” for WheelTug to power.

To the extent airlines do go with Safran for the Airbus, it should incentivize competitors to lease WheelTug for their 737s so as not to be left behind.

But I wouldn’t count on many airlines choosing Safran over Wheeltug for the Airbus.  Their system weighs a great deal more than ours. And it hugs the main landing gear, whose red-hot brakes need to cool down before the next flight can begin (which may make FAA approval more of a challenge as well).  Also, Safran’s solution permanently modifies the aircraft, as I understand it, so is more of a commitment.  Ours can be installed — or UNinstalled — during a couple of overnights in the hangar.

Finally there are patents.  Who knows how that would play out; but WheelTug has a lot of them, both product and process.

More than 20 airlines have queued up to lease the WheelTug system compared to the 1 customer Safran seems ready to announce at Farnborough next month. (Visit WheelTug in Hall 4, #4465!)  So we have a lead there, too, at least for now.

None of this may ever work out for the long-suffering shareholders of grandparent Borealis — or for Safran, for that matter.  But at its current price, and despite the unwillingness of many brokers these days to initiate trades in it, BOREF remains the most compelling lottery ticket I’ve ever seen.  To be bought only with money you can truly afford to lose, and only with “limit orders” so you don’t accidentally pay twice what you expected to.

If you own some, hang on.



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