Black Swift Technologies (BST), a specialized engineering firm based in Boulder, Colo., and Leptron Unmanned Aircraft Systems Inc., a subsidiary of Geotech Environmental Equipment Inc. of Denver, have formed a new manufacturing partnership.
Under the agreement, Leptron UAS will begin manufacturing the Black Swift S1 unmanned aircraft system (UAS) integrated with BST’s SwiftCore flight management system (FMS). The resulting drone will be marketed by Leptron/Geotech as the GeoSwift Mapper.
BST says its SwiftCore FMS is engineered to meet the demands of scientific field campaigns in harsh environments. Mission monitoring and mapping is done from an Android tablet loaded with BST’s SwiftTab software. Gesture-based controls enable users to deploy aircraft with minimal training while collecting data over geography that is topically diverse, says BST.
“What distinguishes Black Swift’s autopilot from what else is on the market is their interface,” states Daniel Hesselius, director of flight operations at the University of Colorado Boulder. “I have not come across an autopilot that can handle fixed-wing aircraft as well as Black Swift.”
Both BST and Leptron UAS are members of UAS Colorado, a nonprofit business league committed to promoting and improving the aerospace industry in the state. The companies say this forum was key to facilitating the new partnership.
“From my perspective, the only way to effectively address the light commercial and industrial market is to partner with other like-minded organizations and have each group focus on their strengths,” says Jeff Popiel, president and CEO of Leptron Unmanned Aircraft Systems. “In this case, Black Swift’s expertise is in advanced avionics and platform integration, while Leptron/Geotech focuses on manufacturing and training. The fact that the aircraft is manufactured entirely in the USA cannot be overlooked either.”
Jack Elston, CEO of BST, adds, “As demand for our aircraft grew, it became clear to us that we needed to explore alternatives to the hands-on production approach we have employed since our inception.”