HARTFORD, Conn. (WTNH) — They might look like toys, but like 747s, drones are aircraft regulated by the Federal Aviation Administration. Now, Connecticut-based fast-growing drone technology company Aquiline Drones is seeking to change the drone game.
Barry Alexander, Founder and CEO of Aquiline Drones, said they handle all things drone; “Drone manufacturing, drone pilot training, drone pilot insurance, everything from A to Z we do here.”
Alexander came of age just a few miles north of the Aquiline Drones Hartford headquarters. This brand, space, and aircraft are the culmination of his 35 years, flying everything from helicopters to 747s.
“To springboard from that into the next best thing,” Alexander said.
That next best thing is growing in Hartford, even as the pandemic shut down other industries. The drones being assembled here can do anything from inspecting bridges and power lines to delivering meals. But, that’s just one part of the puzzle.
“Physical drones are just a piece of the whole puzzle,” said Colin Cooper, the state’s Chief Manufacturing Officer. “A lot of their secret sauce revolves around their operating system.”
Aquiline operates a cloud environment or ecosystem that supports drone activity as far away as the battlefield.
“We can support drone missions in the U.S. or anywhere in the world autonomously through our cloud,” Alexander said.
Connecticut has a rich aviation and manufacturing past. Cooper said that overall, manufacturing has held up during the pandemic.
“We’ve got a bunch of new industries coming to life,” he said. “Drones would be one of those.”
But in some ways, Aquiline is waiting on the federal government to catch up. The FAA recently relaxed some rules, allowing drones to do more. But it will have to go even further for Aquiline to grow into a so-called “Uber of on-demand drone use.”
“The aspiration of making Connecticut the drone capital of the US, Hartford the Silicon Valley of drones in the US. It was important to have that visibility being headquartered right in the center of downtown Hartford,” Alexander added.
Meanwhile, the techs are inspecting these drones to equip new classes of drone pilots and help them prepare to run their own businesses.