Robotic Skies positioned to meet UAS industry’s maintenance needs

By Patrick C. Miller | February 12, 2016

When businesses are at last in position to launch commercial operations with fleets of unmanned aerial systems (UAS), Brad Hayden and his company Robotic Skies LLC will be will be ready to help them maintain and repair their fleets.

Based in Henderson, Nevada, Robotic Skies began two years ago with the idea that businesses operating UAS will at some point in the future need the same services manned aircraft require—especially when they begin operating beyond line of sight in populated areas.

“When UAS businesses start coming online—which is starting to happen now—they’re realizing that they have a big need for warranty program management, field support and other services,” said Hayden, the company’s president and CEO.

Hayden grew up in his family’s avionics repair business and went into the high-tech Internet communications business after college. Twenty years later, he returned to aviation. While working as vice president of marketing for Aspen Avionics, he noticed he noticed that many of the same type of components used in manned aviation avionics systems were being integrated into UAS.

“What I recognized was that this technology was the biggest thing to hit aviation probably since the invention of the jet engine,” Hayden said. “It made sense then to view UAS as a new market segment of aviation, rather than an entirely new industry.”

That led him to return to King Avionics, the family business certified by the U.S. Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) to repair and maintain manned aircraft—known as a Part 145 repair station. The company served as the springboard that enabled Hayden to begin setting up a global network of stations, which now numbers more than 100.

“I determined that UAS was going to require very similar support services to what we see in manned aviation,” Hayden explained. “The concept for Robotic Skies really comes from that premise.”

According to Hayden, Robotic Skies provides “global, ubiquitous field support in a turn-key fashion to UAS manufacturers.” He is quick to point out that the FAA currently has no such requirements for UAS, but he believes it’s only a matter of time before they evolve.

“We focus on high-end, commercial systems,” Hayden said. “We currently have everything from high-end multi-rotor aerial products to optionally piloted aircraft to fixed-wing systems. There’s also value to line-of-sight operators for well-maintained UAS, particularly high-performance aircraft.”

Being certified to work on manned aircraft gives Robotic Skies a unique edge, in addition to the niche the company occupies in the UAS industry.

“The beauty of being in the un-sexy side of the market—which is maintenance—is that nobody thinks it’s the hottest thing out there,” Hayden laughed. “It puts us in a unique position because we enjoy this. We’re maintenance professionals. We have a tremendous competitive advantage with our network because we literally have decades of manned aviation best practices that we can draw on to service this new market.”

When the FAA eventually decides that commercially operated unmanned aircraft will also have to meet maintenance requirements, Hayden said Robotic Skies will be well positioned all over the world to serve them.

“I expect that UAS will have to be certificated, fully equipped aircraft to be able to fly beyond line of sight in the national airspace,” he noted. “There will have to be some maintenance standard. If we follow Part 145 best practices, we know that we’re going to be meeting or exceeding what the expectations will be.”

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