Entering The UAS Market

By Luke Geiver | November 25, 2014

This month’s cover shoot took place in a Detroit airplane hangar. We wanted to capture the culture of Detroit Aircraft Corp., an unmanned aerial vehicle manufacturer and distributor that has partnered with Lockheed Martin to build and distribute Lockheed-designed small UAVs to first responders and firefighters in the city. Detroit Aircraft was once a major aviation player in Michigan prior to the Great Depression. Thanks to CEO Jon Rimanelli’s foresight and financial commitment to UAVs, the company name is back on the aviation map. Emily Aasand’s feature, “UAVs Built In Detroit,” reveals the unique history of the company, Detroit and Lockheed, the role of UAVs in the revitalization of the Detroit Aircraft name and what a successful manufacturing and distribution model of UAVs can look like.

Patrick Miller’s story, “Enhancing The View,” also provides a glimpse into what the UAS industry will someday be. When the announcement dropped that the U.S. Federal Aviation Administration had granted an exemption to six aerial photo and video production companies for the use of unmanned aircraft vehicles, reactions were mixed. Many worried the exemptions were too narrow to benefit sUAV operators not in the video and photo firm business. Others focused on the positive, calling the exemptions a major stepping stone for those working toward full commercialization. Our team spoke with all six companies for Miller’s story on the historic—depending on how you look at it—FAA exemptions. The sentiment shared by many of the exempt firms may surprise you. The majority is pleased with the FAA’s process and interaction during the process. And, although the exemptions do come with strict parameters, most were also content with the rules they will now have the opportunity to operate under.

Textron Systems, a global manufacturer of military equipment from power tools to unmanned minesweepers, is now experiencing a world of new rules. With a new focus on the commercial UAS market, the company is working to tweak its operating and business models to the fast-paced, demanding climate of the civilian market. Earlier this year, David Phillips, vice president for small- and medium-endurance UAS in Textron Systems Unmanned Systems, spoke at a London event themed with the commercialization of UAS, marking Textron’s official entrance into the civilian market. We asked him why this is the right time for Textron to make that move. “It’s an eye toward the commercial market and the much larger volume potential that the commercial market provides that’s really the end-game for unmanned systems,” he told us. “It’s not much different, quite frankly, than a lot of other technologies that started in the military and transitioned to commercial.”

It’s clear from our stories on Detroit Aircraft and Textron Systems that the emerging UAS industry is a market capable of housing firms of all sizes and that they can and will find that the UAS market is a good place to be.

Luke Geiver
Editor, UAS Magazine
lgeiver@bbiinternational.com