But first . . .

If you missed Thursday’s hearing, Republican Representative Adam Kinzinger’s four-minute closing statement says it all.

If you have more time, and/or wonder whether Merrick Garland should or will indict (and for what), listen to last night’s Lawrence O’Donnell.  (The advantage of the podcast over the video: almost no ads, which you can skip, and the ability to speed it up, though I found no need to.)



And now . . .

. . . for fellow long-suffering Borealis shareholders . . . or those who have simply watched with amusement (starting here, in the previous century) . . .

. . . I offer this, from WheelTug CEO Isaiah Cox.  (Meet me at the end.)  As you know, WheelTug is majority owned by Borealis.


WheelTug in Perspective

Some have asked whether WheelTug would be something readily copied by some would-be competitor or another. Indeed, I have the impression that people sometimes think WheelTug’s real competitive advantage is that we dreamed up the idea of electric taxi before anyone else, and that the popularity, when we achieve it, will necessarily bring lots of competitors. And consequently that those competitors merely need the idea in order to effectively compete.

This is not quite correct. I have met *hundreds* of people who tell me they had the idea of WheelTug! You may recall that in the past we had competitors: L-3 and Crane worked on a competitor. Safran and Honeywell did, too! These are not minor players, and they are not stupid. But they all went for the main wheel at least in part because it has more space. And they all failed. We are the only player in the market today.

As I love recalling, the head of R&D for Airbus, before 2010, put this image up on the screen . . .

. . . and proclaimed: “We at Airbus know how to move planes. We have done it every possible way. We have even moved airplanes with an elephant. And I can tell you, there is no possible way to fit the elephant into the nosewheel.”

And you know, given what was known in the world in 2010 HE WAS RIGHT. That was before we had optimized our motor. It was before we had invented the technologies that made our gear half the size of the comparable gear. It was before we had a clutch solution. We lacked the knowhow, the solutions, the partners, the optimization, the certification pathway.

What we did not lack was a refusal to quit. And the unsupported belief that, despite what Airbus (and countless others) said, it could be done, and it would be done by WheelTug.

Yes, WheelTug would need a lot of “firsts”. The first titanium wheel in the history of commercial aerospace, and the knowledge and knowhow to make it happen (Thanks, ATI and Stirling!).  A gear technology that we designed within WheelTug – and built and tested, time and again until we got it right (thank you, MechEng team!). Incredible work on the electronics suite, thanks to the world-class team at Ultra. And there are all kinds of suppliers we do not trumpet, but also make parts that are unrivalled in the world – the bearing specialists, and the companies that designed custom seals. We have many partners that make parts that we believe could not have been made by anyone else in the world.

Much of our work is not miraculous – it is just hard to do well, and especially hard to do well the first time. We needed – and acquired – incredible partners, from Phixos (software) to Luminator (panels, wheel cap, racks & trays, wiring). The creative problem solving and diligence of Kalco and their deeply-valued machining capabilities. Every one of these companies gambled when they chose to work with us. Wow.

When we pitch to airlines, we explain that WheelTug is a simple retrofit product – which it is, from the customer’s perspective. But in reality, WheelTug is a highly, highly engineered and complex system. There is nothing simple about it, except in the finished product. WheelTug reminds me of the adage that technology that is sufficiently advanced and polished is indistinguishable from magic.

We have built a federation of companies that have worked together to put the elephant in the nosewheel. Now we are all certifying it, and putting it into service. The journey has been a lot harder than we expected – which is why it has taken longer – but we are getting it done. I could not be more proud of what this team has accomplished, and what we are all doing now as we push toward the Entry Into Service.

New entrants simply do not pop up in commercial aerospace in the 21st century. There are too many barriers to entry, information and expertise that does not grow on trees. It takes too long, costs too much, and has numerous pitfalls. Yet now that WheelTug has signed our Launch Customer, we are no longer a “new entrant.” We are known. We have the team, the suppliers, the partners. We have the factory, the comprehensive incoming inspections, quality and logistical systems. The list goes on.

The elephant is in the nosewheel. It does not squeeze in there very easily, I can tell you.  Which illustrates that WheelTug is not only a concept – because thousands of people have had the concept, but it always went nowhere. WheelTug is not only the financial guidance to understand the real value to the industry, from The Twist to time savings, engine savings to emissions. It is not only all the technologies and the value they unlock – which has become 131 issued patents with 50+ pending, plus a host of trade secrets. It is the enormous diligence and hard work of our team, and the team of our partners and
suppliers.

WheelTug is also the investment and patience and support of all of our investors, to whom we are forever grateful. I cannot wait until y’all start cashing the dividend checks, year after year.

We are changing the way aircraft operate on the ground in the most fundamental way since (at least) the dawn of the jet age. And we thank you.


So listen: this remains a highly speculative investment to be made with money you can truly afford to lose.  (And it trades very thinly, so use “limits” in placing any order to buy or sell.)

Yes, they’ve shown that it really works.

And, yes, because they have their pre-certification agreement with the FAA (and because WheelTug’s failure, like the failure of a tray-table or the entertainment system, would not endanger lives), I think it’s likely they will eventually get certified.

But can they produce systems “at scale” that work reliably?  Will the financing come through to keep moving forward to the day that revenue actually begins to flow?  Will airlines lease the systems for enough to reward us richly?   I have a lot personally invested in the bet that the answers will be yes.

With 5 million shares outstanding, BOREF, at $5 or $6 a share, is valued at $30 million, less than a Hamptons estate and — more to the point — less than a single airplane.  If WheelTug succeeds in cutting ground time by 10 to 20 minutes per flight, short-haul airlines will eventually increase their capacity by 10% or 15% without having to hire a single new crew member — or buying a single new plane.  So ultimately, this technology could “produce” the equivalent of a thousand new planes.

But a lot still has to go right.

As to the 181+ patents Isaiah references, that’s great.  But as ParkerVision has demonstrated — another of our swing-for-the fences bets — it can take a great deal of money and a great many years to enforce a patent, even when completely valid.



Have a great weekend . . . and week.

Watch Kinzinger.  Listen to O’Donnell.  One a conservative.  One a liberal.  Both patriots.

 

 

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