Friday, September 2, 2011

Airframer for Dayton Aerospace Cluster

In my previous post on the Dayton Aerospace Cluster, I mentioned that one of the big missing pieces is an air-framer. The DDN recently reported that a Fortune100 defense contractor that currently makes UAV components, but does not make full airframes yet is interested in locating a manufacturing / test facility in the Dayton region.

Here's some of the defense contractors on the Fortune 100:
See the full Fortune 500 list. The most interesting one on the list is GD, since two of the three joint ventures listed are with Israeli companies, and Dayton region representatives signed a trade deal in 2009 with representatives from Haifa.


  1. Dayton's Cluster Competition
    Oklahoma Being Promoted As UAS Home.
    The Tulsa (OK) World (9/5, Greene) reported, "Gov. Mary Fallin is promoting Oklahoma as the best possible location for companies to build unmanned aerial systems - please, don't call them drones - for military, civil and commercial use." The article noted Fallin was the only state governor at the Association for Unmanned Vehicle Systems International conference. Furthermore, Stephen McKeever was recently appointed "to lead the state's Unmanned Aerial Systems Council, a panel of public and private experts charged with formulating a plan for state UAS development." The article noted that over the next decade, "the state will be able to gauge the success of the effort in the number of jobs created, the number of companies locating in the state, the number of companies starting here, and the total economic impact, [McKeever] said."

  2. The DDN story linked in the post mentions that airspace is a critical aspect of this deal.

    Here's some more background on the UAV airspace saga in Dayton: Rift between 2 vying for drone airspace could hinder progress

  3. Military Adding Robotic Helicopters To Fleet.
    AFP (11/9) reports, "The US military plans to add a lethal new drone to its fleet -- a robotic helicopter for the US Navy equipped with laser-guided rockets, defense giant Northrop Grumman said Wednesday." The new armed helicopters, known as "the Fire Scouts...mark a new era in naval warfare, offering an alternative to pilots flying attack helicopters or fighter jets off warships and" reflect "a broader shift to robotic technology across the US military in recent years." A Northrop Grumman spokesman said that "the operational system" for the Fire Scouts "will be delivered by 2013." One model, the MQ-8B Fire Scout is already being used in US Navy reconnaissance missions.

  4. DDTC Publishes New Proposed Aircraft Rules
    First, for certain aircraft, such as the F-22, parts and components will still be controlled if they were “specially designed” for those aircraft. And DDTC concedes it hasn’t figured out a good way to define “specially designed,” conceding that the definition used in the December notice was being revised and would be the subject of a future notice.

    Second, not all the covered aircraft are positively defined. Under the proposed revision of Category VIII, “armed unmanned aerial vehicles” are covered, which makes eminent sense, but so are “unarmed military unmanned aerial vehicles.” I can hear you asking now what makes an unarmed UAV a military UAV? DDTC concedes it has no earthly idea itself of the answer to this question, and asks for comments on this matter, sort of like the stumped contestant in “Who Wants To Be A Millionaire” using the audience lifeline.

  5. Reported in DBJ and DDN: the Dayton Development Coalition (which was recently hired by the State of Ohio to spend $10M) has hired SAIC to do a study on how to attract UAV development and production companies.

  6. Under provisions in the 2012 National Defense Authorization Act, six new pilot test sites for unmanned aircraft systems (UAS) will be established by the Federal Aviation Administration. The Defense Department and FAA will use the test sites to integrate UAS into national airspace use for a variety of different applications, rather than the current functions essentially limited to military use overseas or in restricted U.S. airspace.
    Defense bill calls for domestic UAS test sites

  7. DDN reports (Nolan, 25 Dec 2011): UA Vision LLC, a manufacturer of unmanned aerial vehicles, is teaming with other companies to showcase its UAVs, equipped with cameras and radio-frequency identification tags, for potential government and commercial customers around the country.
    UA Vision and its sister company, Co-Operative Engineering Services Inc., are involved with other companies, the Air Force and Dayton-area colleges in efforts to build UAV industry expertise and obtain federal approval for UAV test-flying airspace in the region.

  8. DDN reports (Nolan, 10 Jan 2012): Maj. Gen. Deborah Ashenhurst, who oversees the Ohio Army and Air National Guard, is the state’s new gatekeeper on requests for space to fly unmanned aerial vehicles, or UAVs.

    Ashenhurst said Tuesday that Gov. John Kasich has asked her office to be the clearinghouse for Ohio requests to the Federal Aviation Administration for approval of airspace requests for research and training flights of UAVs. Her office has already forwarded two such requests that could affect the Dayton area.

  9. MAE reports (Keller, 22 Jan 2012): Lockheed Martin won a $1.1 million contract Friday for development and ground demonstration of the integrated power system and payload into a SURGE-V hybrid UAV aircraft. Lockheed Martin and Elbit Systems of America LLC in Fort Worth, Texas, were selected last May to develop a green hybrid propulsion system for the SURGE-V green UAV program.

    The latest contract, awarded by the Air Force Research Laboratory at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base in Dayton, Ohio, represents the next phase of SURGE-V engine development and demonstration.

    Lockheed Martin may do work on the SURGE-V program at a location other than Eagan, Minn., because the company plans to close the Eagan facility by 2013.

  10. WDTN reports (Edwards, 23 Jan 2012): Congressman Steve Austria, 7th District/Ohio (R) believes our region's best bet for lasting job creation lies inside the gates at our states largest single site employer, Wright Patterson Air Force Base.
    More specifically UAV research underway at AFRL. But before that can really take-off, Austria says Ohio must have cleared air space from the FAA to test the aircraft.. Austria is currently drafting legislation that will allow that to happen.

    "I have language included in the FAA authorization bill that would set-up pilot programs to compete for and hopefully get that air space that will bring those businesses to Ohio and in turn that would mean hundreds and possibly thousands of new jobs in our area, " Austria said.

  11. DDN reports (Nolan, 2 Feb 2012): The Federal Aviation Administration has given the Air Force Research Laboratory approval to fly small, remote-controlled aircraft at Wilmington Air Park in Clinton County, the Air Force said Monday.

    The research laboratory, headquartered at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base, will use the FAA-issued certificate of authorization to fly small planes of 55 pounds or less to test their ability to carry instrument and sensor packages and to learn how to track aircraft of that size, base spokesman Daryl Mayer said. The flights must be within five miles of the air park and must remain within sight of the operator, he said.

  12. UAV Provision To Benefit Cinematography Industry.
    The New York Times (2/19, Wingfield) "Bits" blog reported on a provision contained in FAA reauthorization that requires the FAA to draft rules governing the widespread use of commercial UAVs, a welcome move for cinematographers. Aerial cinematographer Russell Freeman "said he was contacted by the FAA last year and told to stop flying his drone. He's still using unmanned helicopters to shoot commercials and television shows outside the United States, but he says many of his competitors are ignoring the ban." Cinematographer Tabb Firchau said he moved his business abroad after FAA restrictions prevented him from working in the US. He said, "There's an entire industry sitting on the fringes, just waiting."

  13. DDN reports (Bischoff, 16 April 2012) Wright-Patterson Air Force Base is in a good position to weather defense spending cuts and to compete for federal approval to become a testing site for unmanned aerial vehicles, said U.S. Sen. John McCain, R-Arizona, who is the ranking member on the Senate Armed Services Committee.

  14. DDN reports (Nolan, 17 April 2012) Efforts to demonstrate that unmanned aircraft can be flown safely in airspace used by manned airplanes could get an important boost with test flights scheduled this fall, a conference of unmanned aircraft industry officials was told Tuesday.

    The Air Force and the Navy, working with different variations of the Global Hawk remotely piloted plane, plan the test flights to demonstrate that electronic “sense-and-avoid” technology can allow the unmanned aircraft to “see” an oncoming plane and automatically change course to avoid collisions, said Joe Sciabica, executive director of the Air Force Research Laboratory.

  15. A big investment by GE in Dayton is getting lots of coverage. The Street (Business Wire, 04/30/12) reports, “GE Aviation will continue to grow its Dayton presence in a dramatic way,” said Lorraine Bolsinger, president and CEO of GE Aviation Systems, during her keynote address today at the Dayton Chamber of Commerce’s annual meeting.
    “GE plans to grow and attract talent to Dayton from around the world,” said Lorraine Bolsinger. “We are investing $17 million in capital improvements for our Dayton facilities and another $50 million in our new Electrical Power Integrated Systems R & D center that will be operational next year.”
    Additional coverage by DDN (Gnau, April 30, 2012) and 4-traders focusing on the regional investment and Dayton's "Aerospace Corridor".

  16. WVXU reports (Thompson 5/9/2012) UAVs now flying in Wilmington, may be part of the area's economic future. The FAA recently gave Wright-Patt permission to test the UAVs in a five miles radius of the air park. Three years ago DHL pulled out and 9-thousand people lost their jobs. Clinton County Port Authority Executive Director Kevin Carver is charged with attracting new business to the air park. UAV testing is a first step. "The airport's view is that this is one of the many efforts we intent to pursue. And with this specific regard our belief is that this is a long-term strategy." There is a larger effort by suburban Dayton leaders to get the area designated as one of six FAA UAV test sites.

  17. DDN reports (Barber, May 10, 2012) U.S. Rep. Mike Turner, R-Centerville, added an amendment to the defense bill that, if passed, means the Department of Defense, the Federal Aviation Administration and NASA would work together on technical challenges to integrate unmanned air systems into the nation’s manned air travel system.

    “This is a growing and exploding industry area to the extent that we can get in on the ground floor, this is something that can grow significantly in our community,” Turner said in an interview with the Dayton Daily News.

  18. DBJ reports (Cogliano, June 1, 2012) Before consolidating its unmanned aerial vehicle operations to the Dayton region, Science Applications International Corp. was performing work in different parts of the country.

    During the past year, the contractor has added hundreds of jobs locally and can now assemble a complete system here. In addition to saving time and money, the move has opened new doors at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base in going after more work in human performance research, integration and ground station development, said Dennis Andersh, senior vice president and Dayton regional executive for SAIC.

  19. Springfield News-Sun reports (Wednesday, June 6, 2012) The city of Springfield wants to build a new $2.3 million hangar complex at its airport to attract drone developers.

    The city plans to seek $2 million from the state later this year and will pay for the rest with city dollars, said Tom Franzen, the city’s economic development administrator.

    “To have something ready and available when someone has an interest is going to give us an edge,” Franzen said.

    City officials believe the development of unmanned aerial systems and related programs can bring local jobs to the area if Ohio is selected as a site for testing them by the Federal Aviation Administration later this year.

  20. Aerospace companies weighing a move to the Dayton region may be drawn primarily by two factors: Inexpensive commercial and industrial real estate and proximity to Wright-Patterson Air Force Base, the Air Force’s worldwide logistics hub.

    That’s what some 80 University of Dayton marketing students found when surveying corporate aerospace prospects this year.

    WPAFB hub 
key incentive (bit of a word salad title on that one)

  21. DDN reports (Nolan, Aug. 8, 2012) Ohio is establishing a complex for unmanned aerial vehicles to bolster the state’s UAV industry and try to capture a share of the growing, multibillion-dollar worldwide appetite for the craft, state officials said Wednesday.

    State officials are looking at sites in the Dayton area to house the center’s offices, which is intended to be a one-stop-shop for government, industry and universities seeking to participate in the effort to demonstrate that UAVs can be safely flown in manned airspace.

  22. DDN reports (Barber, Aug. 23 2012) U.S. Sen. Sherrod Brown, D-Ohio, toured Sinclair Community College’s UAS training and certification center Thursday in downtown Dayton to focus on high-tech growth areas he said would benefit from more money to programs like Sinclair’s.

    The community college has a major emphasis on preparing students for jobs in the emerging civilian UAS industry

  23. DDN (7 Jan 2013) and DBJ (8 Jan 2013) report: GoHypersonic looking to put a new hypersonic wind-tunnel in downtown Dayton (they are asking for a noise ordnance variance to do so).

  24. DBJ (Cogliano, 11 Feb 2013) reports: Some members of Congress — including U.S. Rep Mike Turner, R-Dayton — are getting antsy when it comes to the Federal Aviation Administration’s progress when it comes to unmanned aircraft. In a letter late last week, the Congressional Unmanned Aerial Systems Caucus sent a letter Department of Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood saying the FAA should be focused on safety issues, not privacy concerns, when it comes to integrating unmanned aircraft into the National Airspace System. There is growing concern the FAA will not meet a Congressionally mandated September, 2015 deadline to accomplish that goal since it signaled late last year that privacy issues have held up its plan to identify six unmanned aircraft test sites.

    More coverage in Journal News

  25. DDN (Barber & Wehrman, 14 Feb 2013) reports: Months of waiting lifted Thursday when the Federal Aviation Administration asked for proposals for six sites around the country where unmanned aerial vehicles can be tested.

    And the Dayton-Springfield region wants in on the action.

    The federal agency put out the request saying it’s looking for proposals from state and local governments, eligible universities and other public entities before it selects the six sites later this year.

  26. National Geographic has a long story on Unmanned Flight: Drone fever is especially palpable in Dayton, cradle of American aviation, home of the Wright brothers and of Wright-Patterson Air Force Base. Even before the recent recession, Dayton was struggling. Over the past decade several large companies, including General Motors, have shut down operations here. But Dayton’s airport is lined with advertisements for aerospace companies; an ad for the Predator Mission Aircrew Training System shows two men in flight suits staring stoically at a battery of computer monitors. The city is dotted with drone entrepreneurs. “This is one of the few new industries with a chance to grow rapidly,” Brown says.

  27. Fellow AFIT grad doing well (in that NatGeo article): Standing behind Johnson, watching him watch the Falcon, is its designer, Chris Miser. Rock-jawed, arms crossed, sunglasses pushed atop his shaved head, Miser is a former Air Force captain who worked on military drones before quitting in 2007 to found his own company in Aurora, Colorado. The Falcon has an eight-foot wingspan but weighs just 9.5 pounds. Powered by an electric motor, it carries two swiveling cameras, visible and infrared, and a GPS-guided autopilot. Sophisticated enough that it can’t be exported without a U.S. government license, the Falcon is roughly comparable, Miser says, to the Raven, a hand-launched military drone—but much cheaper. He plans to sell two drones and support equipment for about the price of a squad car.

    Way to go Chris!

  28. FAA test site news.
    Politicians tout Ohio/Indiana as designated UAV test site U.S. Rep Mike Turner is leading a Congressional group in lobbying the FAA for one of six unmanned aircraft test sites. The letter to Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood said the Ohio/Indiana Unmanned Aircraft Systems Center & Test Complex meets FAA requirements and will be carried out in close proximity to a unique and powerful team of FAA partners. This includes Air Force Research Laboratory, NASA Glenn Research Center and the Naval Surface War Center Crane Division. “These facilities and their extensive contractor base hold key technologies needed for the integration of UAS into the national airspace,” the letter said.

    UAS test site submissions due today
    Monday, May 6 applications are due for one of the FAA's six sites to test unmanned aerial systems. According to officials in Gov. John Kasich's office, the submission is an economic impact study for the F-A-A as to why the Dayton Region, Ohio and portions of Indiana are the best place for one of the highly coveted test sites.

  29. Dayton Daily News (McGinn, 12 June 2013) reports The Ohio/Indiana Unmanned Aerial Systems Center and Test Complex will be housed in leased office space at the Nextedge Applied Research and Technology Park along U.S. 40 in a building owned by Advanced Virtual Engine Test Cell, better known as Avetec.

    The Ohio Department of Transportation, which will manage the complex, picked the space from among 15 possible sites, 12 of which were located in Montgomery and Greene counties.

    Columbus Dispatch reports (Wehrman, 19 Aug 2013) To bolster its bid, Ohio has partnered with Indiana. They highlighted that partnership with a massive map marking all the potential sites where UAVs could be tested, including in restricted air space in southern Indiana. The two states submitted their 6,000-page application to become an FAA test site in May, two years after a group of Ohio lawmakers pushed for language in an FAA reauthorization bill calling for the establishment of FAA test sites.

    They say unmanned aerial vehicles are in their blood. Dayton businessman Charles Kettering developed the first unmanned aerial vehicle, the Kettering Bug, in 1918.

    And the AUVSI, the trade organization representing unmanned aircraft now headquartered in Washington, D.C., was first established in Dayton in 1972.