Super Heavy-Lift Drone MFR to Open Florida Plant

A new assembly plant that will produce some of the world’s most powerful Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAV) will soon be operating at Lakeland Linder Regional Airport near Tampa.

GRIFF Aviation North America’s component supplier, GRIFF Aviation of Alesund, Norway, has constructed a prototype that lifts hundreds of pounds and the company is working on a larger unit that will carry nearly a ton. In the beginning, the independent assembly plant in Florida will build around six drones a week for distribution throughout North America. Plans are already in place to increase that capacity dramatically as needed.

To accommodate the immediate demands of the American industrial, agricultural and military marketplace, the company will produce four basic airframes to which they can attach up to 20 different accessory packages in order to meet a particular mission for a purchaser. Flight times can run from 20 to 45 minutes depending on payload weight though flight times can be extended for over an hour with added battery packs and a lesser payload, and with a 500′ electronic tether it can stay aloft indefinitely.  It will soon become the first and only commercial Unmanned Aircraft System (UAS) to be certified by Europe’s European Aviation Safety Agency (EASA) and Civil Aviation Authority (CAA), as well as our own Federal Aviation Administration (FAA).

The global consumer drone industry is expected to climb to a value of nearly $4 billion over the next ten years. Given that drone technology has so many numerous commercial, industrial, and military applications (the defense drone market is already worth around $8 billion), the future for drone growth looks incredibly bright.  It is anticipated that in the US, the FAA will soon be announcing major changes in the regulation of all drones weighing over 55 pounds and used commercially.  Presumably, this will open the floodgates for companies currently awaiting the green light from the authorities.

Most US heavy lift drones only lift between 5 and 80 pounds so the GRIFF UAVs are being hailed as game changers.  “The commercial heavy-lift drone is the next big worldwide technology explosion once regulations can be worked out governing the industry,” says Leif Holand, GRIFF’s (Norway) CEO.  “It’s inevitable and we feel that the United States market will lead world demand.  The craft will be entirely assembled in the US from technology and components supplied by GRIFF Aviation here in Norway.”

GRIFF’s plan is to produce 5 basic airframes around which it will construct 20 or so different applications depending on the mission described by the purchaser.  Examples are construction, movie production, agriculture, search and rescue, law enforcement, civil services, fire services, cargo delivery, man overboard rescues, and of course, the military and defense industries.  Imagine being able to deliver desperately needed ammunition and supplies to US forces in a firefight, even evacuating wounded soldiers.

With safety the number one concern of the world’s aviation authorities, the GRIFF line will offer a ballistic parachute that deploys in milliseconds in the event of any kind of problem.

Griff Aviation’s UAVs will be priced from around $250,000 and up with pricing dependent upon the customer’s requirements.  “Consider that the only other alternative a purchaser has is a helicopter at ten times the operating cost and the GRIFF drones become quite a bargain,” says Holand.

GRIFF Aviation North America will begin taking orders for its drones during its debut and lifting demonstrations at the huge XPONENTIAL drone show May 8-11 in Dallas, Texas.  The event is the world’s largest trade show for the unmanned systems and robotics industry.

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