Within the last few months, the unmanned vehicle market has rapidly changed.
It’s gone from a purely military and public-safety oriented market to one that is quickly being discovered by the private sector.
Albuquerque’s Silent Falcon UAS is working to get its drone to market fast to capitalize on that interest by the private sector.
“It’s been a long time, but we’re almost there,” company president John W. Brownsaid on Thursday.
The company’s sales team is taking orders for the planes now in international markets, where UAVs can fly. In the US, the FAA has not certified drones.
But Silent Falcon is ready. The company is building its last three test planes now, and expects to deliver them for tests in early May to potential customers.
Silent Falcon might be becoming known as the city’s “other” drone maker. Titan Aerospace, run by former Eclipse Aviation founder Vern Raburn in Moriarty, has been getting a lot of attention recently. Two weeks ago, news broke that Facebook wasinterested in buying Titan for $60 million.
Brown says his planes fly, and are nearly ready to be shipped.
Silent Falcon’s craft are 12 to 19-foot planes that can fly from four to 12 hours at a time. Much like Titan’s, Silent Falcon’s planes are also solar-powered.
But that’s where the similarities end. Silent Falcon’s planes can cruise at 25 knots, and can be outfitted with cameras or sensors.
Silent Falcon, which has seven employees, grew out of ideas from Bye Aerospace, an aviation think tank in Colorado.
Brown, who is on the board of directors, said Bye saw interest in the drone idea in the late 2000s, and initially thought there would only be a military market for it. Brown founded the company in 2010.
Since its inception, however, the company has seen the market change, and sensors and cameras develop, that have opened up a variety of markets.
“We believe the market is overseas, in precision agriculture, infrastructure monitoring, forest management, and in law enforcement and military,” Brown said. “Anything that’s dull, dirty and dangerous where you don’t want to put a pilot.
“Our mission right not is to get deployed in as many markets and geographic locations as possible so that when the U.S. market opens up, we have satisfied customers,” he said.