Unmanned aerial vehicle industry taking off in Alaska

Fairweather Tulugaq’s Dan Wilkinson prepares to hop off of the Diamond DA42. The plane can be flown traditionally or remotely unmanned by replacing the pilot’s seat with a remote operating system.

The venerable Piper Super Cub isn’t being squeezed out, but the face of aviation in Alaska is changing.

Once strictly a military tool, unmanned aerial vehicles, or UAVs, are now being used in civilian government work and the private sector.

Fairweather LLC announced the formation of research subsidiary Tulugaq LLC Sept. 30. A joint venture between the resource industry support company and regional Native corporations Olgoonik Corp. and Kaktovik Inupiat Corp., Tulugaq’s work centers on its 21st Century aircraft, the Diamond Aircraft DA42. The word Tulugaq is Inupiaq for raven. Fairweather was founded in 1976 by Sherron Perry with an initial focus on providing aviation weather observation services to remote regions, and has since expanded into a wide array of industry support activities.

“We make science happen,” Tulugaq Operations Manager Steve Wackowski said. “My boss, Sherron Perry, saw a niche for airborne remote sensing so we’re approaching it in two ways: manned and unmanned remote sensing. Part of our DA42 is the manned portion of that, but the kicker on the DA42 is it’s optionally unmanned.”

Read the full article…

Leave a Reply