Unmanned Aircraft Systems Provide ‘A Whole Network Of Opportunities’

Unmanned Aircraft Systems Provide ‘A Whole Network Of Opportunities’
Officials gathered this month to celebrate the completion of a new unmanned aircraft hangar at the airport in Wicomico County. Photo by Bethany Hooper

SALISBURY – Local officials celebrated the completion of Salisbury Regional Airport’s new unmanned aircraft systems (UAS) hangar with a ribbon cutting ceremony last week.

Last Friday, government officials, politicians and business representatives joined airport leadership for a ribbon cutting at the new UAS hangar, located within the airport business park.

Calvin Peacock, chair of the Wicomico County Airport Commission, told attendees the new facility – comprised of a larger hangar bay and office space – will be a hub for drone operations throughout the region.

“This is the definition of Salisbury-Wicomico County Regional Airport,” he said, “to be a leader in the growth of the Delmarva peninsula.”

Officials said the new drone facility will drive economic development with the creation of aviation-related jobs and the expansion of aviation operations at the airport.

Airport Manager Tony Rudy noted the building is the first of its kind for UAS operations. He said he envisions the facility to focus on aircraft certification and development, as well as educational outreach.

“If you think about all the different aspects, all the different roles that UAS can play, it’s almost limitless,” he said. “It’s only limited by our imagination. To have that here now, and what it’s going to offer in the future, is just amazing.”

Two companies, Sentinel Robotic Solutions and Kilroy Aviation, will be stationed at the new UAS hangar.

Sentinel Robotic Solutions CEO Peter Bale told attendees last week he was excited to see new opportunities with the construction of the UAS facility.

“We see this as an autonomous systems area that doesn’t just integrate air vehicles, but you have ground robotics, and we’ve got an ocean 25 miles away,” he said. “So there’s a whole network of opportunities here for this facility.”

Bryce King, the company’s director of aviation programs, added Sentinel Robotic plans to utilize the space by bringing in large corporations to test and operate drones, working with local schools and universities, and building the airport into a commercial hub.

“We intend to do this in a three-phased approach,” he said, “bringing innovation and economic development here to Wicomico County.”

King also recognized Wicomico County and the Salisbury airport for their contributions to the project.

“I want to thank Wicomico County and the Salisbury airport for having the vision to build this beautiful hangar here and giving Sentinel Robotic Solutions the opportunity to turn it into something great,” he said.

The new hangar was funded by Wicomico County and the Maryland Department of Commerce.

About The Author: Bethany Hooper

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Bethany Hooper has been with The Dispatch since 2016. She currently covers various general stories. Hooper graduated from Stephen Decatur High School in 2012 and the University of Maryland in 2016, where she completed double majors in journalism and economics.