Aviation

Late Bombardier test pilot’s ‘DNA is embedded’ in air safety product

Pete Reynolds sits in the cockpit of a Bombardier Global Express business jet in 1999. Reynolds helped Andy Skow design the Q-alpha Flight Energy Awareness Display that Skow hopes to bring to market this year. Reynolds, who retired as vice president of flight test at Bombardier in Wichita, died in 2014.
Pete Reynolds sits in the cockpit of a Bombardier Global Express business jet in 1999. Reynolds helped Andy Skow design the Q-alpha Flight Energy Awareness Display that Skow hopes to bring to market this year. Reynolds, who retired as vice president of flight test at Bombardier in Wichita, died in 2014. File photo

Before Pete Reynolds, a retired Bombardier vice president of flight test, died in 2014, he and former Learjet colleague Andrew Skow were working on a project aimed at preventing airplane loss of control accidents – and saving pilots’ lives.

Skow, CEO of Tiger Century Aircraft in California, has completed work on the project, which is now a product he hopes to begin offering commercially later this year.

On Tuesday, Skow – former chief aerosciences engineer of Northrop’s F-20 Tigershark fighter jet – will present a $5,000 donation to the Wichita State University Foundation for an endowed aeronautical engineering scholarship in Reynolds’ name.

The $5,000 is from the Experimental Aircraft Association’s Founder’s Innovation Prize that Skow won last summer for the product he and Reynolds developed, the Q-alpha Flight Energy Awareness Display.

“Pete’s DNA is embedded in the Q-alpha display,” Skow said.

Q-alpha is a customizable software and hardware system that interfaces with an airplane’s systems. An inch-and-a-half display consisting of a ring of lights and mounted to the side of the airplane’s instrument panel alerts pilots to conditions that could lead to hazards such as a stall, giving them enough advance warning to take action before a situation turns critical, Skow said.

He said one of the key features of Q-alpha is its small display, which is designed and mounted in the aircraft in a way that it doesn’t require pilots to change their line of sight – meaning they don’t have to turn their attention away from the airplane’s instruments.

The product will primarily be marketed to airlines and corporate aviation, he said. A portion of profits from future sales will be donated to Reynolds’ endowed scholarship, Skow said.

“Pete was way more than a test pilot,” he said. “Pete was a better engineer than me. Very, very solid.

“The combination of my wild ideas and his experience-based pragmatism combined beautifully.”

Jerry Siebenmark: 316-268-6576, @jsiebenmark

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