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Visit NWUAV - America's first One-Stop-UAV Shop
As America’s leader in UAV propulsion system design and manufacturing, Northwest UAV is leading the way again, as America’s first one-stop-UAV Shop. With a reputation for reliable, cost effective, innovative UAV engine and support system solutions, NWUAV has developed into a company with the ability to design, manufacture, build-to-print, repair, ground test, and flight test UAVs in FAA designated airspace. Founded in 2005 by President/Owner Chris Harris, NWUAV continues to safely and effectively manage all aspects of product development, from initial concept design through production, engine testing and beyond to maintenance and overhauls within AS9100/ISO9001 Certification. When reliability is key, count on the team at NWUAV.
After successful preliminary operational tests, Northwest UAV (NWUAV) and the U.S. Naval Research Laboratory (NRL) are working on further developments towards a test flight of their hydrogen fuel cell propulsion system. February 20, 2021 | McMinnville, OR: Through a cooperative agreement, NWUAV and NRL have successfully completed a hydrogen fuel cell prototype designed specifically for the high power-to-weight ratio and harsh operational requirements of unmanned systems. After a successful first operational test, NWUAV and NRL plan further developments to their hydrogen fuel cell prototype, with a test flight slated for later this year. “It is very gratifying to turn research sustained by the Office of Naval Research into a commercial product,” said Dr. Karen Swider-Lyons, Director of the Laboratory of Autonomous Systems Research at the U.S. Naval Research Laboratory. “With new manufacturing support from the Department of Defense Manufacturing Technology Program and a cooperative agreement we are creating a new generation of aerial propulsion technology that will greatly advance the capabilities of our warfighters.” The Proton Exchange Membrane (PEM) Fuel Cell is compact, reliable, and lightweight. The PEM Fuel Cell creates electricity through the direct electrochemical process of turning hydrogen into water. This design allows for modularity and scalability to meet different power requirements of a broad range of unmanned systems. The PEM system pictured contains 48 cells and is rated for 1400 watts of continuous power. The high efficiency of fuel cells combined with the high energy of hydrogen creates systems for long-endurance electric propulsion. “This is the most advanced and efficient hydrogen fuel cell ever produced for unmanned systems applications,” explained Dr. Ben Gould of the U.S. Naval Research Laboratory’s Alternative Energy Section, Chemistry Division. “This particular design is based on a culmination of 15 years of research on hydrogen fuel cells and dozens of flights on various unmanned aircraft. A stackable design is uniquely scalable and easily customizable to fit various propulsion requirements and can maximize power-to weight ratio.” The PEM Fuel Cell has successfully completed initial operations testing and continues development towards its first test flight later this year. “The unmanned systems industry is rapidly evolving. Qualities like reliability, maintenance, operating cost, and efficiency are becoming increasingly significant to manufacturers and their end users,” explained Jeff Ratcliffe, NWUAV Chief Technical Officer. “Hydrogen fuel cells have very few moving parts resulting in high reliability and low maintenance. They promise the long endurance of an internal combustion system at the low operating costs of battery powered systems, creating a compelling value proposition for the unmanned systems industry.”
Hirth Engines and Northwest UAV have established this new agreement to serve and grow the aviation propulsion markets. With NWUAV, this establishes sales opportunities, maintenance, and repair support in this region. September 15, 2020 | McMinnville, OR: Northwest UAV (NWUAV) has partnered with Hirth Engines (Hirth) as distributor for North and Central America. With a dedication to leading the market in aviation propulsion technologies and high-quality service, Hirth Engines found Northwest UAV’s capabilities, facility, and vision to be the perfect fit to assist future growth in sales and support. “Our team has worked extremely hard for over a decade to develop a reputation for reliable, cost-effective, innovative UAS solutions.” explained Chris Harris, NWUAV President and Owner. “As we continue to expand our products and services, we have been very careful about choosing partners who align with the quality performance expectations NWUAV lives by, as well as our vision for the future of the aviation industry. In our discussions with Hirth Engines, it quickly became apparent that we have similar viewpoints about where improved product capabilities are needed in the UAS industry, and that we could better serve that vision together.” Acknowledged globally for industry-leading expertise and innovation, Hirth Engines has been developing aviation technology for over 90 years. They have earned their reputation as market leaders who provide proven technologies and superior service. With engines that support a variety of aviation platforms, from UAVs to hovercraft, ultralights, and helicopters, Hirth Engines offers the UAV market aviation solutions that will expand on the current propulsion solutions that NWUAV offers. NWUAV will be working closely with Hirth to provide seamless, continued support for existing customers, and both Hirth and NWUAV are looking forward to the new opportunities their partnership will generate. Bruno König, CEO of Hirth Engines says: “Outstanding quality is always our highest demand at Hirth - only with this attitude and the best partners can we succeed in producing the leading engines for the aviation industry. With Northwest UAV, we are cooperating more intensively with a strong partner at our side to create synergies, support each other and advance the common global vision in the industry. As a market-leading team, both benefit from each other's decades of experience in design, technology, innovation and customer support.” “We offer a variety of propulsion systems, and the addition of Hirth Engines opens up several new segments of the UAV market,” said Jeff Ratcliffe, Chief Technical Officer at Northwest UAV. “Considering our engineering, manufacturing, repair, and testing capabilities, the market opportunities that this agreement creates and technical advancements that will follow is what we’re all really excited about.”
America’s UAV one-stop shop, Northwest UAV, is now the US distributor of Inertial Labs positioning, orientation and navigation technologies. March 16, 2020 | McMinnville, OR: Northwest UAV has partnered with Inertial Labs to add their best in class positioning, navigation, and orientation technologies to NWUAV’s impressive list of UAS technologies and services. Maintaining a constant focus on providing the highest quality, Inertial Labs offers the best value, smallest, most accurate, and lowest power consumption products. This philosophy of product design and development perfectly aligns with Northwest UAV’s commitment to providing the highest quality and best value building blocks for the unmanned industry. “We’re proud of the reputation we’ve built in the UAS industry for providing the most reliable, cost-effective, and high-performance UAS solutions,” explained Jeff Ratcliffe, NWUAV Chief Technical Officer. “As we build on our history of providing UAV propulsion system solutions, we are expanding our strategy and becoming America’s one-stop UAV shop. We’re being very diligent to ensure that all of the products and services we offer integrate seamlessly with our other products and services and are consistent with our hard-earned reputation for the highest level of performance, quality, and service.” As the leader in position and orientation sensor technologies, Inertial Labs offers the most innovative solutions representing the best value, smallest size, and lowest power consumption in their class. As a distributor for Inertial Labs’ Inertial Navigation Systems (INS), Inertial Measurement Units (EMU) and Attitude Heading and Reference Systems (AHRS), Northwest UAV provides the industry with all of the experience and tools to help customers be successful in all aspects of developing and improving their systems. Whether it is choosing the right component or integrating into their design or testing it at NWUAV’s FAST UAV Test Range, NWUAV has the expertise and the capability to ensure success. “We’re excited to partner with a company that shares our high standards for quality, value and performance,” said Inertial Labs Business Development Manager, Anton Barabashov. “And we’re thrilled to have a distributor who can offer our customers so many complementary services alongside our products, such as flight testing, build-to-print manufacturing, design assistance, and repair. We’re confident that our United States customers will be well-served and supported by the expert team at Northwest UAV.” Adding Inertial Labs sensors and products to their impressive list of products, Northwest UAV continues to set the highest expectations for what it means to be America’s one-stop UAV shop. Offering design, manufacturing, build-to-print, repair, ground testing and flight testing alongside trusted partner products, Northwest UAV strives to provide expert assistance with every aspect of UAV design, development, and production in one location. NWUAV customers utilize these products, partner products and services throughout the entirety of their product lifecycle, providing flexibility and immediate availability that sets a new standard for service to the UAS industry.
October 9, 2019 | McMinnville, OR: The Northwest UAV NW-44 Heavy-Fuel Engine has reached the noteworthy milestone of logging over 21,000 operational hours. With an innovative design that focuses on maintainability, Northwest UAV’s NW-44 UAV Engine has developed a reputation for being the UAV industry’s reliable, cost effective propulsion solution. Purpose-built for small unmanned aircraft systems (UAS) that require high reliability and easy maintainability, the NW-44 Engine (pictured on a test stand with a new muffler design) is a lightweight, multi-fuel UAV engine. The NW-44 is a complete turn-key engine system designed to be a COTS solution for Tier II UAVs (40-75 lbs). Its innovative design virtually eliminates development costs, saving customers millions of dollars and several years stuck in the engineering development cycle. The milestone of 21,000 operational hours clearly speaks to the NW-44 Engine’s reliability, and in a less apparent way, its maintainability. “Traditionally, engines for the Tier II UAV weight class are built to be throw-away engines,” said Jeff Ratcliffe, Chief Technical Officer of NWUAV. “That means they are not likely designed and built for 10-15-hour days at 45c (like the NW-44 Engine), rather they’re built for a few hours at the local airfield – on a nice day. While we understand why OEM’s initially use low-cost foreign-made engines from the hobby market – it can be a risky and potentially more expensive undertaking for the needs of professional unmanned systems today.” “As the industry matures, COMPLETE traceability has become as critical to the engines as the parts themselves,” Ratcliffe continued. “Sophisticated customers will expect to know every aspect – who, what, where and how – of every component of the engines, as well as what it experienced prior to delivery. Simply put, untraceable components make the lifespan and containment of faulty components unpredictable and unmanageable. That is why the NW-44 is American Made, we control the quality and traceability of our parts. Relying on China, Taiwan or Korea in your supply chain is not a sustainable strategy for today’s customers.” While the milestone of 21,000 operational hours clearly speaks to the maturity of the engine, NWUAV consistently looks for ways to continue to improve the engine and reduce maintenance requirements, with the end goal to be as bulletproof as possible in theater. “After 21,000 hours it’s pretty apparent what can and will go wrong. Not just on the engine system itself, but also with how the engine is being operated and maintained in very harsh environments with limited resources. This extensive insight can’t be duplicated in a test cell,” said Chris Harris, President and Owner of Northwest UAV. As a result of the feedback NWUAV receives from field maintainers and operators, the company has undertaken an effort to update the engine’s muffler and generator, which will substantially reduce onsite maintenance and downtime. “The goal is to reduce the touch-time on the engine to only require scheduled spark plug changes, and the muffler update is part of that effort.” says Harris. “After each flight, engine operational data is downloaded on location and then analyzed and approved by a NWUAV specialist prior to the next flight. The ability for operators to be in immediate, direct contact with our experts and provide us with this data and direct feedback is a welcome, critical loop in support of our customers’ successful operations and our internal efforts for continuous improvement.” Additional advancements currently in the works for the NW-44 include an Artificial Intelligence (Ai) module that can predict pending failures and required maintenance, carbon build-up resistant piston rings (Not Keystone), an altitude compensating carburetor and a lighter weight variant of the Multi-Fuel NW-44. Though NWUAV was one of the first companies to successfully break from tradition and establish higher expectations for Tier II UAV propulsion systems, they continue to innovate and further advance expectations for Tier II systems, and with their NW-88 Engine, Tier III applications.
Northwest UAV, America’s unmanned industry leader, is pleased to announce the addition of Troy Boonstra to their executive leadership team. Troy has been tasked to lead NWUAV’s engineering team as well as product strategy, engineering planning and execution. As a key member of the leadership team, he is responsible for guiding internal research and development and cross functional execution to support strategic investments, technology expansion, and new product development. “Troy has an extensive background and direct experience in leading diverse, globally-based engineering teams. This skillset, coupled with Troy’s ability to strategically drive innovation in technology and product development as it relates to the wide expanse of aerospace systems, makes him a great fit with our team,” said Chris Harris, President and Owner of Northwest UAV. “Troy understands the dichotomy between unmanned systems of the past and what the industry will demand in the future as technologies in components like sensors, hydrogen fuel cells and heavy fuel capabilities expand.” Harris went on to say, “Troy was once quoted as saying, ‘What makes a successful business is very much like what makes a good special ops unit, you need a high-reliability organization with processes and procedures for getting things done. But you also need leaders who can make decisions based on gut and intuition.’ This is exactly the mindset that has made Northwest UAV successful, and just another example of why we are certain that bringing Troy into our company is the right move.” Troy comes to Northwest UAV from FLIR Systems where he was the Vice President of Product Management and Strategy for the surveillance line of business. His duties included managing a portfolio of over 80 products, and expanding technology and applications related to multi-spectral sensing for Government & Defense applications with his team of global product managers. Prior to joining FLIR, Troy held leadership positions at GE Aviation, Avionics and Digital Systems in Grand Rapids, MI, and Raytheon Missile Systems in Tucson, AZ, in Engineering and Program Management. Troy is a veteran and served as an Army Aviator for over 24 years, flying several different aircraft. With over 400 combat missions, 6000 flight hours, developmental test pilot experience, and current flight instructor rating, he brings a unique perspective to the Northwest UAV product leadership team. Troy holds B.S and M.S. degrees in Aerospace Systems, as well as an MBA from the University of Tennessee’s Aerospace and Defense MBA program.