UAS firm sets up shop in Starkville

Insitu President and CEO Ryan Hartman cuts the ribbon for the UAS firm's new facility at the MSU Thad Cochran Research, Development and Technology Park Tuesday. From left to right, standing, Insitu Senior Manager for Commercial Aviation Charlton Evans, MSU Research Park Director Mark McGee. Mississippi Development Authority Executive Director Glenn McCullogh, Sen. Thad Cochran staffer Chris Richardson, Insitu President and CEO Ryan Hartman, Raspet Director Dallas Brooks, GSDP President and CEO Scott Maynard
Staff Writer

The Thad Cochran Research, Technology and Economic Development Park welcomed a new tenant Tuesday.

Insitu, a leading unmanned aerial system (UAS) manufacturer opened its new Starkville office with a ribbon cutting ceremony and reception. Representatives from Mississippi State University, the city of Starkville and the Greater Starkville Development Partnership attended. The company will use its Starkville facility to work toward flight certification of its vehicles with the aid of the MSU Raspet Flight Research Laboratory and the Federal Aviation Administration Alliance for System Safety of UAS through Research Excellence (ASSURE), which is managed by MSU.

“We’re focused on aircraft certifications within the National Airspace System within the U.S.,” said Insitu President and CEO Ryan Hartman. “One of the things required to be able to operate any aircraft within the National Airspace System is to have a certified aircraft. We’re going to be doing research in collaboration with Raspet and Mississippi State along with the FAA ASSURE program to define what it means to certify an unmanned aircraft.”

Hartman said while Insitu had been manufacturing UAS for more than 20 years, certifying the aircraft was a new territory, particularly for the company’s civilian models.
“The number of hours we’ve actually flown in support of commercial customers in the National Airspace System is very few,” Hartman said. “We’re just right at the front edge of introducing unmanned aircraft into the commercial market space.”

Commercial applications Insitu aircraft have been used for include disaster recovery, firefighting assistance and monitoring railway systems.

Hartman said Insitu had been in contact with MSU’s programs for close to two years prior to opening an office in Starkville.

“Our relationship with Insitu as a university is to strengthen their ability to do innovative research in a very quick turn time environment to support applications to help people today,” said Raspet Flight Research Laboratory Director Dallas Brooks.

Brooks said he saw some ways Insitu and MSU UAS technologies could be paired together, including evaluations and new software.

“There’s a tremendous amount of touch points between Insitu and Mississippi State that we’re going too grow together over the next few years,” Brooks said.

GSDP President and CEO Scott Maynard said Insitu’s new office was an example of strengthening cooperation between the city of Starkville, MSU, Oktibbeha County and the GSDP.

“One of the things I think they bring to the table is an opportunity for our community to be involved with a company that is on the forefront of the next generation of aviation research,” Maynard said. “With unmanned aerial vehicles, there are so many different applications that they can work with.”

Insitu is headquartered in Bingen, Washington and has offices located in Hood River, Oregon, San Mateo, California, Costa Mesa, California, Oxford, England and Brisbane, Australia.