Two UAS companies sign on as Robotic Skies customers

By Patrick C. Miller | May 12, 2016

Robotic Skies LLC has been selected by two unmanned aircraft systems (UAS) businesses to provide worldwide maintenance on their unmanned platforms.

Spectral Sky Inc.—a new UAS company headquartered in Henderson, Nevada—and DPI UAV Systems (DPI) based in Essington, Pennsylvania, will receive customer service, spare parts, technical support and warranty programs from Robotic Skies.

Robotic Skies—also based in Henderson—has more than 100 service centers throughout North America, Europe, Australia, New Zealand, South America, Asia, the Middle East and South Africa. Its customer base ranges from high-performance multi-rotor and fixed-wing platform manufacturers to optionally manned aircraft operators.

Company CEO Brad Hayden started Robotic Skies more than two years ago, relying on decades of experience in maintaining and repairing manned aircraft through the family’s King Avionics business. He believes it’s a matter of time before the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) issues maintenance requirement regulations for commercial UAS, just as it does for manned aircraft.

Spectral Sky, a commercial spinoff of Unmanned Systems Inc., specializes in aerial data collection, real-time reconnaissance and customized data delivery for commercial clients and government agencies. CEO Bill Reynolds said the company offers three different fixed-wing UAS platforms that all feature long flight endurance.

Recently, Spectral Sky concluded final flight testing of its 4,550-pound SS-300M Atlas, an optionally manned aircraft based on the Lancair Evolution turboprop. Within about two years, Reynolds expects the aircraft to be flying commercial unmanned missions.

“We tie into Robotic Skies because this is a full aircraft with complex avionics and sensors,” he said. “Having the ability to do maintenance anywhere in the world with experts we can rely on helps with our goal of quick global expansion.”

Hayden said working on an optionally piloted aircraft is ideal for Robotic Skies given the company’s roots in maintaining and repairing manned aircraft.

“It’s a very natural fit for us to maintain these platforms and segue into unmanned side,” he explained. “It’s really just a matter of determining what the maintenance requirements will be, what inspections they’re going to need and be able to put together programs that make sense for the types of missions they’re going to be flying.”

Spectral Sky also offers the SS-200—a 500-pound aircraft that can carry up to 125 pounds of payload with 20 hours of endurance—and the SS-100A Sierra, a commercial adaption of Northrop Grumman’s Sandstorm UAV capable of carrying a 25-pound payload with six hours of endurance.

Reynolds said Spectral Sky has clients in Africa and the Middle East interested in infrastructure inspection and maritime missions. Other markets include mining, wildlife monitoring, agriculture and infrastructure security, as well as exploration and efficiency improvements for the oil and gas industry. The company plans to do business in the U.S. after the FAA releases regulations for commercial operations.

DPI UAV Systems, which manufactures small, rotary wing UAS, has flown thousands of hours for the military and is now making its platforms available for industry use.

"DPI is a prestigious addition to our active client group," Hayden said. "The company brings the best of both worlds to the UAV community: innovative and proven UAS technology that is grown from a rich aviation heritage."

DPI UAVs include tandem helicopter and multirotor UAVs that can carry payloads of up to 450 pounds. Commercial applications include agriculture, forestry, wildfire life and safety, fisheries, geochemical discovery, precision photography and videography, precision mapping, search and rescue, and infrastructure assessment.

Michael Piasecki, DPI CEO, said the company’s platforms are ideal for industries that require precision flight, the ability to launch and land in unprepared terrain, autonomous capabilities and one-person operation.

"Our company is recognized for robust, low-cost UAV, world-class innovative design, extensive testing and successful UAV deployment," he said.

DPI's roots go back 70 years to Frank Piasecki, who flew the second successful helicopter in the U.S. His team went on to fly the nation’s first military tandem helicopter—the largest helicopter at that time.

DPI provides design, build and flight services to government customers such as the U.S. Navy, NASA and the U.S. Army and to commercial aviation companies such as BAE, Northrup Grumman, and L3.


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