Edison Aerospace has designed and will be producing a full-size autonomous fixed-wing electric aircraft that will allow companies currently performing agricultural aerial application to replace their turbine and piston aerial application aircraft and reduce their hourly operating costs by over 45%, saving 7 to 10 pilots’ lives and 125 million gallons of fuel annually (in the US alone). Our goal is to produce an autonomous spray aircraft that can replace existing internal combustion aircraft for an operator and make them more money in the process.
Our core strategy revolves around North Dakota’s UAS-friendly ecosystem, specifically the Northern Plains UAS Test Site, a skilled workforce at UND that includes undergraduate and graduate students and faculty, a generally business-friendly climate, and the presence of our target customer base in the surrounding community.
Our target market is the crop spray aircraft operator, typically one of about 1,800 such small businesses operating in the US on tight margins, with an average of 2.3 aircraft and one or two pilots, one of whom is typically the business owner. There are about 5,000 agricultural aircraft operating in the US, with an estimated 20,000 aircraft in the worldwide fleet. The initial goal we have set is to replace at least 1% of this global fleet with our aircraft within the first five years of operation (conservatively). By cutting the operators’ hourly operating costs by 45% we are directly contributing to their incomes and to the aggregate cost of food production. Our value proposition for our target customer is considerable operating cost savings and cleaner and safer operations.
The company is seed-funded by its founders but is now seeking capital that is necessary to establish our R&D and production operations in Grand Forks, rent office and industrial space, purchase computer and production equipment, flight control electronic equipment, supplies, and hire staff to first build a sub-scale model of our aircraft for testing, then a full-scale model, with a target date of delivery of a full-scale functioning prototype to occur within 12 months of beginning operations. A considerable amount is also dedicated to marketing and sales – Edison Aerospace will be present at US and International core aviation events such as NBAA events, Air Venture, Agricultural Aviation Convention, and many others. Our first sale is conservatively projected for month 14, with the continued R&D and manufacturing requiring a total staff of 10 in year two of operations.
The initial R&D efforts are currently in progress as we test a sub-scale model in a Florida facility and will continue until such time as funding is secured to move operations to Grand Forks and take advantage of the FAA Northern Plains UAS Test Site, and the presence of a technically savvy workforce with a UAS-specific education and vocational experience.
Sales and Marketing
Marketing efforts are already in progress as well, and we have two large-scale operators who expressed interest in testing and becoming early adopters of our aircraft.
Our sales projections are very conservative considering the financial incentive for the potential buyers and total 7 units in Year 2, 24 units in Year 3, 36 units in Year 4, and 60 units in Year 5. These are conservative figures that reflect a projected worst-case scenario. Our discussions with actual spray operator companies have returned much more positive responses that suggest that demand will exceed our projections. Our estimates show an hourly operating cost reduction of 45% for the operator. We believe that market demand will be greater than our very conservative projections.
Ours is a unique product – there is no other autonomous spraying solution on the market that has the scale to replace a GA aircraft performing aerial spraying today. Edison Aerospace has the full potential to become a multi-billion-dollar company, a leader in electric commercial cargo aviation, and intends to seek an IPO within six to seven years.
The first aircraft design we will be producing, the Heavy1, will have a wingspan of 36 feet, with a max takeoff weight of 2,700 pounds, and a 150-gallon spray tank (1,100 pounds payload). It will offer a rate of coverage of 255 acres per hour, with a flight time of at least one hour (likely 2 hrs, depending on specifics of battery energy density). The next design to head to market, the Heavy2, will have a wingspan of 55 feet, a max takeoff weight of 6,500 pounds, and a 400-gallon spray tank (3,300 pounds payload). This model will have a coverage rate of 725 acres per hour and a similar endurance.
Beyond these two core models, we have plans for a downsized version, the Light1, with a 23’ span and 1,500lbs gross, targeted at the farmer-operator who is seeking independence in working their land to include aerial application.
Opportunities and Growth
Our business model and the widespread demand and need for heavy cargo electric aircraft also brings with it the possibilities of expanding to other markets such as autonomous cargo delivery, military supply chain support service, and many others.
The advantages of our aircraft compared to manned cargo flights are low operating costs, operation in almost any weather condition, including zero visibility, the removal of valuable human pilots from being placed in harm’s way. We will continue to innovate our designs and seek to grow the company, retaining manufacturing in North Dakota.
Our sales and manufacturing capacity projections show an annual production of 200 aircraft in years 4 or 5, which will require 50,000 square feet of industrial space. As we grow beyond the 200 annual production figures, we will expand operations to meet market demand, possibly holding additional equity financing rounds.
We have partnered with a renowned specialist in battery design technology at the University of North Dakota, Dr. Yong Hou, and seek to push the state of the art in battery design to extend our flight times and improve our product in the marketplace. All our designs will feature distributed electric propulsion and ducted fan technology to maximize the performance and economy of our aircraft.
The company CEO, Gene Avakyan, holds a degree in Aerospace Engineering and an MBA, is currently working with the FAA, and has a successful 25-year career in technology, including 10 years working with Los Angeles city and Federal government.
The head of marketing and supply chain management is an experienced businesswoman, Victoria Unikel, who has extensive first-hand experience managing a supply chain for her own import business that supplied several chains of department stores with household goods from China. She personally traveled to trade shows in China to secure agreements with the factories and enforced contract delivery schedules for her previous businesses.
Our legal counsel is David Golubchik, a successful California attorney admitted to the US Bankruptcy Court and a senior partner in a respected and established practice.
Among technical industry and university partners, we have engineering professors from the University of Central Florida and Virginia Tech on our team as resources that we will retain for wind tunnel testing, finite element analysis, and computational fluid dynamics analysis of our prototype to fine-tune the design and test the various iterations of it as we go to final full-scale prototype production.
Thank you for this opportunity to present our business! Please contact Gene for more information at firstname.lastname@example.org