Born: Ireland
Primarily active in: United States of America

1937 - 2020

Michael Anthony “Tony” McVeigh of Media, Pennsylvania, died peacefully on June 28 at the age of 82, after a long battle with vascular dementia.

McVeigh was born in Belfast, Northern Ireland, on Aug. 18, 1937. His fascination with aircraft began as a young boy, leading to his profession and a lifelong passion. He graduated from Queen’s University Belfast in 1961 with honors, earning a BS in Aeronautical Engineering, followed by an MS in Aeronautical Engineering from Cranfield University in Bedfordshire, England, in 1964.

McVeigh began his career with Short Brothers and Harland, Ltd (Belfast), designing small guided missiles. In 1966, he immigrated to the US as a recruit for The Boeing Company, where he worked for 46 years, retiring as a Senior Technical Fellow in 2015 at the age of 78.

McVeigh joined Boeing to work on the aerodynamic design and performance of helicopters, tiltrotor, and tiltwing aircraft with responsibility for the development, wind tunnel testing, and optimization of tiltrotors, and tiltwings. He soon became a key player in the development of the Boeing Model 222 tiltrotor entrant for the NASA-Army Tiltrotor Research Program competition (won by the Bell XV-15 tiltrotor). This early involvement in tiltrotor technology led to Boeing’s subsequent teaming with Bell to win the contract for the V-22 Osprey program. McVeigh then led Boeing’s Advanced Aircraft Design Group with responsibility for V-22 aerodynamic development activities and design support. During this period, he contributed significant modifications to the Osprey to improve performance and handling.

McVeigh was also responsible for the aerodynamic design of the Boeing advanced composite replacement rotor blades for the NASA-Army-Bell XV-15 tiltrotor aircraft, as well as the rotor blades for the record-breaking Boeing Model 360 tandem rotor helicopter.

Some specific contributions:

  • Boeing Vertol Model 150/160 tiltrotor studies, including proprotor wind tunnel testing in the late 1960s
  • Boeing Vertol Model 222 tiltrotor hingeless proprotor full-scale wind tunnel testing
  • Boeing internal research and development wind tunnel testing of scaled advanced rotor concepts for HXM studies (CH-46 replacement), including blade tip planform effects, blade number and advanced airfoils
  • Boeing Model 360 Advanced Technology Helicopter, including advanced, high-speed airfoils and blade tip planform design
  • Boeing/NASA Advanced Technology Blade (ATB) for NASA/Bell XV-15 — although not entirely successful, this all-composite proprotor blade demonstrated hover performance improvements and lower noise
  • Working with the Boeing Aerodynamics Group, made very significant contributions to the Bell Boeing JVX/V-22 Osprey tiltrotor, including wind tunnel testing of wing/body drag reduction, tail buffet resolution (fuselage-mounted strakes), wing vortex generators, hover download reduction studies, etc. These included scaled wind tunnel and full-scale flight test experimentation and refinement.
  • Hover download reduction flight tested on the NASA/Bell XV-15 using a mid-wing “butterfly” retractable device
  • Active flow control studies for hover download reduction on the V-22
  • Nacelle tip sails — design and testing for the V-22 that reduced cruise drag and improved range
  • DARPA–Boeing DiscRotor aircraft program design and wind tunnel testing of extendable rotor system

In 2001, McVeigh received the VFS Paul E. Haueter Award for his outstanding technical contributions to the development of tiltwing and tiltrotor aircrafts. He also served on the VFS Board of Directors for several years, as well as several committees.

McVeigh was named a Senior Technical Fellow by The Boeing Company in 2003, the highest achievement for technical leadership. This prestigious award recognized McVeigh’s role as a major national and international authority in aerospace engineering and for his commitment to personal and professional excellence. In addition to his duties of mentoring and technical reviews, McVeigh led the application of advanced flow control techniques aimed at increasing the performance of tiltrotors and helicopters by reducing hover download and improving cruise lift-drag ratio. He authored/co-authored 25 published technical papers and held four patents.

McVeigh was passionate about his work and hobbies. He was an avid reader, traveler and lifelong learner. With a private pilot’s license, he flew small planes for pleasure. He was an active member of St. John’s Chrysostom Parish, where he served as an usher.

Source: Vertiflite, September/October 2020