Australian Drone Engine Maker To Open Factory In Hood River

scaneagle
Insitu uses engines built by Orbital Corporation to power its ScanEagle UAV. INSITU

Listen

The unmanned aircraft industry cluster in the Columbia River Gorge is growing yet again. An Australian company that specializes in drone engines plans to open a factory in Hood River, Oregon, early next year.

Orbital Corporation announced it has leased a newly built industrial and office building in Hood River where it will assemble and test small aircraft engines. The number of new jobs created appears modest at first.

“Generally we would be employing somewhere in the range of 12 to 15 staff, expanding to up to 30 within a 12 to 18 month time frame based on our expansion plans,” an Orbital executive emailed.

Conveniently, and not coincidentally, Orbital’s space is practically next door to its biggest U.S. customer, a Boeing subsidiary named Insitu. Insitu uses Orbital’s engine to power its fixed-wing military and commercial reconnaissance drone, the ScanEagle.

Insitu is now the largest private company in the Gorge. Since it started there, other companies in the sector have set up shop leading to area getting the occasional nickname Dronetown USA.

The industry cluster also includes drone maker Aerovel, transponder maker Sagetech, Hood Technology and Overwatch Imaging, among others.

“We have been looking for the right property for Orbital’s needs for some time,” Orbital CEO Todd Alder said in a statement. “Securing an exclusive long term lease over a new purpose built facility in such a highly sought after location in Hood River is a fabulous outcome.”

Related Stories:

Larry McMillan drives a combine as he harvests barley Friday, Aug. 24, 2007, near Moscow, Idaho. The region's warm and dry weather has provided optimal conditions for the continued harvest season. (AP Photo/Ted S. Warren)

What Is The Toll Of Trade Wars On U.S. Agriculture?

The recently signed Phase 1 U.S.-China deal promises some relief. Details remain unclear, but the United States government’s interpretation of this deal is that China will purchase $40 billion of agricultural goods in 2020. Some analysts have questioned how realistic those estimates are, given that the highest level of farm products the United States has ever exported to China was $26 billion in 2012, although one Chinese agricultural consultancy company says this can be achieved. Continue Reading What Is The Toll Of Trade Wars On U.S. Agriculture?

Read More »
Plastic tubing strings like fairy nets through the University of Washington's Pack Forest in the foothills of Mt. Rainier. Eventually it will carry bigleaf maple tree sap to make syrup.

Bigleaf Maple Syrup Flows As Profits Drip From A Once-Maligned Northwest Tree

The bigleaf maple has a broad canopy and is native to the West Coast. It grows from San Diego, California all the way north to British Columbia’s Vancouver Island. But the West Coast timber industry is largely set up to harvest Douglas fir. The bigleaf maple, with its broad-shading canopy, is often eradicated so more Douglas fir will grow. Continue Reading Bigleaf Maple Syrup Flows As Profits Drip From A Once-Maligned Northwest Tree

Read More »