A new assembly plant producing heavy-lift unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) will soon be operating at Lakeland Linder Regional Airport near Tampa, Fla.
GRIFF Aviation North America’s component supplier, GRIFF Aviation of Alesund, Norway, has constructed a prototype drone that can lift hundreds of pounds. The company is also working on a larger unit that will carry nearly a ton.
Initially, the independent assembly plant will build around six drones a week for distribution throughout North America. Plans are already in place to increase that capacity dramatically as needed, says GRIFF.
The company will produce four basic airframes to which users can attach up to 20 different accessory packages in order to meet a particular mission. Depending on payload, flight times can run from 20 to 45 minutes, but with added battery packs and a lighter payload, flight times can be extended for over an hour. In addition, with a 500-foot electronic tether, the drone can stay aloft indefinitely. The GRIFF line will also offer a ballistic parachute.
“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 CEO for Norway. “It’s inevitable, and we feel that the United States market will lead world demand. The craft will be entirely assembled in the U.S. from technology and components supplied by GRIFF Aviation here in Norway.”
Suitable applications include construction, movie production, agriculture, search and rescue, law enforcement, civil services, fire services, cargo delivery, and military and defense.
The UAVs will be priced from around $250,000 and up. GRIFF Aviation North America will begin taking orders for its drones during its debut and lifting demonstrations at XPONENTIAL 2017.