It’s hard to imagine what Platform Aerospace has planned for 2022, after setting a world record flight time with its drone late last year.
The veteran-owned business, based in Hollywood, Md., has been hard at work modifying and upgrading aircraft for nearly 30 years. Now, its focus is shifting to producing a new unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) product line in hopes of landing additional government contracts with the Department of Defense.
The company’s latest efforts are quickly proving to be successful, with its new aircraft making a 12,000-mile journey above Southern California, totaling just over eight days of consecutive unrefueled flight time.
“The equator of the Earth is approximately 24,000 miles. This vehicle, which is smaller than a car, flew the equivalent of halfway around the world,” said Greg Pappianou, chief growth officer at Platform Aerospace.
This specific UAV is part of Platform Aerospace’s Vanilla Unmanned line of products, which Pappianou says is in the same category of size, weight, and complexity as other tactical systems. It’s significantly smaller than a 737 aircraft—and capable of flying for multiple days without stopping.
“Sometimes people are conditioned to look at time increments in hours. So [when seeing our results] they thought, ‘This aircraft flew for eight hours.’ We had to say, ‘No, that’s eight days,’” said Pappianou.
Even with its record-breaking Vanilla success, the company remains dedicated to growing its legacy business and its portfolio right here in Maryland.
During the last quarter of 2021, Platform Aerospace expanded its presence in St. Mary’s County with an additional 15,000 square feet, giving the company extra space for its labor-intensive tasks, cabling, inventory, and more. “That growth really opened up our in-house abilities,” said Pappianou.
In addition, the company has grown its workforce and added more than 25 new jobs over the past few months, giving it around 90 employees at the Southern Maryland site.
To assist with its growth plans, the company has utilized workforce training grants from both the Maryland Department of Commerce and the Tri-County Council for Southern Maryland in recent years. Landing new customer contracts often require employees to learn new skills and obtain certifications for specialty tasks. With help from these economic development agencies, Platform Aerospace was able to afford those expenses and provide its employees with professional development training – for everything from mechanics and machining to project management – needed to complete the job.
Investing in the local workforce has always been a priority for Platform Aerospace. The company participates in the Department of Defense’s SkillBridge Program, providing training and development for individuals after military service. The company is also an eligible employer through the Maryland Department of Labor’s Youth Apprenticeship Program, which helps students obtain on-the-job training and desired skills needed to succeed in the workplace.
To learn more about the company, visit platformaerospace.com.