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New Horizons

Business Aviation Will Embrace Larger, More Complex UAS

Bigger unmanned aircraft systems will be increasingly utilized in business aviation, says one expert.

It should surprise no one that Brad Hayden is spearheading the launch of Robotic Skies, a global unmanned aircraft systems (UAS) maintenance network. After spending his childhood helping out in his family’s avionics sales and service business, he got his pilot’s license and launched his career by managing global, high-tech marketing programs for US Robotics and 3Com. As one of the original Aspen Avionics executives, he led the definition and rollout of the Connected Panel product line.

“I’m an avionics guy,” declares Hayden. “I was tuned-in to how UAS technology could potentially disrupt the aerospace industry in a positive way and provide new opportunities. Integration of UAS into non-segregated airspace requires regulation similar to manned aviation and can include certified maintenance.”

Hayden believes that the market for recreational drones is leveling off, but he predicts that the commercial UAS market will continue to grow. Operators are evolving and expanding UAS mission profiles, which require larger, more advanced aircraft to meet these needs.

“UAS is an opportunity for flight departments to move beyond being a cost center and to put aviation at the forefront of a company.”

Brad Hayden President and CEO, Robotic Skies

“Companies that patrol vast areas of infrastructure like pipelines, power lines, or rail are using large UAS with sophisticated sensor payloads that cost tens of thousands to hundreds of thousands of dollars,” said Hayden.

Newer UAS are more aircraft-like than were early commercial drones, noted Hayden, who predicts that cutting-edge UAS technology will cross over to influence aircraft design and vice versa. Innovations such as sense-and-avoid and autoland are examples.

Aviation directors would be wise to learn about and embrace UAS technology, according to Hayden. Since the issuance of FAR Part 107, business aviation operations now have detailed regulatory guidance for utilizing commercial drones weighing less than 55 pounds.

“You’d be surprised how many UAS operations are part of IT and not flight departments,” noted Hayden. “UAS is an opportunity for flight departments to move beyond being a cost center and to put aviation at the forefront of a company.”

Brad Hayden is president and CEO of Robotic Skies, a global network of OEM-certified Part 145 UAS repair stations. An avid drone pilot, he chairs NBAA’s Emerging Technologies Committee, and serves on the executive committee for ASTM’s F38 Committee on UAS.  

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