Engineers work on a prototype ventilator for coronavirus patients at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory in California. Credit: NASA
PANDEMIC NEWS UPDATE: a NASA-designed ventilator; in-person Senate hearings; making room for cargo
By Cat Hofacker|May 6, 2020
Our weekly compendium of coronavirus news
At 3 p.m. today, the U.S. Senate Armed Services Committee will hold its first in-person hearing since lawmakers gathered to pass the CARES Act in late March. While practicing social distance, senators will discuss the plans of Ligado Networks, formerly LightSquared, to deploy a 5G network that Defense Department officials say would interfere with the GPS constellation.
U.S. President Donald Trump on Tuesday visited the Honeywell factory in Arizona where workers make N95 masks. Honeywell shipped the first masks last week. Elsewhere in the facility, engineers build aircraft engines and auxiliary power units, small engines that generate electricity to power aircraft systems such as air conditioning and lighting.
The demand for no-contact delivery of consumer goods in the U.S. will prompt regulators to allow drones to complete beyond-visual-line-of-sight flights without special authorization from FAA, predicts analyst Ken Herbert of Canada investment firm Canaccord Genuity in his quarterly report, “Drone industry update.” Overall, the pandemic “will serve as a catalyst for the global drone market,” he writes.
On Monday, United Airlines, Delta and JetBlue began requiring all passengers to wear face coverings during flights. Starting next week, Alaska Airlines, American, Southwest and several others will require face masks for passengers and employees from check-in through deplaning.
Airbus says it will provide instructions to airlines telling them how to remove seats to make room for cargo in the cabins of A330 and A350 aircraft.
The U.S. Food and Drug Administration approved the design of a NASA-developed ventilator, clearing the way for production of the machines to treat COVID-19 patients. Designed by engineers at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory in California, the ventilators are meant to be produced more quickly than conventional ventilators and will be made with fewer parts.