The Vertical Space

Jim Barry & Luka Tomljenovic

A podcast at the intersection of technology and flight. Here we discuss the most important forces shaping the market of advanced air mobility, with a particular focus on why and how they matter to those building a business in this very exciting and growing industry. read less

#33 Justin Steinke, Spright: B2B drone medical delivery
Yesterday
#33 Justin Steinke, Spright: B2B drone medical delivery
The conversation that follows is with Justin Steinke, Senior Vice President of Commercial Business at Spright. As a senior executive of one of the more sophisticated drone operators in the market, Justin knows the drone industry inside and out. He is just as comfortable discussing macro industry trends as he is getting into the weeds of enabling technologies. Needless to say, we did both. We start with a long discussion on the state of the commercial drone market: the remaining unaddressed pain points, technology gaps, enterprise adoption, upcoming market inflection points, the regulatory situation, and the best practices employed by successful drone businesses. Throughout the conversation you'll hear Justin highlight the importance of bringing aviation expertise and mindset as a prerequisite of success, and how this is still a rare find in the industry.We also touched on the relative pros and cons of B2B and B2C drone delivery business models in terms of time to market and ease of proving a safety case. And before taking a dive into the medical delivery use case, Justin shared what the Part 107 BVLOS waiver process looks like and what went into their 300 page submission to the FAA.And as we talked about the medical delivery use case, Justin went into a much appreciated level of detail describing the CONOPS, all of the associated elements, value proposition for hospitals and communities, and other operational and product details that are often overlooked. Towards the end of the conversation, we also talked about UTM, detect and avoid, drone type certification, operational approvals, and of course advice to entrepreneurs who are considering entering the drone market.Justin Steinke is the Senior Vice President of Commercial Business at Spright where he is focused on delivering scalable unmanned solutions into medical use cases as well as providing turnkey inspection services to electric utilities. With 20 years of aviation experience and start up leadership, Justin is highly experienced in system design, manufacturing, analytics solutions and communication systems for the DoD and UAS industries. Prior to Spright, Justin led teams at Volair, LLC, GE Aviation AiRXOS, Data Into Knowledge (DN2K) and Simulyze, Inc., across engineering, product management and strategic business development. Justin holds a Bachelor of Science degree in Aviation Technology & Finance and is a Commercial Rated Pilot and former Flight Instructor.
#32 Geoff Bower, Archer: designing and commercializing eVTOL aircraft
Jan 6 2023
#32 Geoff Bower, Archer: designing and commercializing eVTOL aircraft
Today’s conversation is with Geoff Bower, Chief Engineer at Archer Aviation, a developer of electric vertical take off and landing – or eVTOL – aircraft.Geoff is one of the most renowned engineers in the eVTOL arena, and we sat down for an in-depth discussion on developing and commercializing eVTOL aircraft.  We start the conversation with a high level description of a day in the life of a chief engineer of a pioneering aircraft company, which sets the stage for a discussion about the assumptions and design tradeoffs that Goeff and his team faced when figuring out the requirements for an aircraft and mission for which there is really no historical precedent to rely on. One of our favorite parts of the conversation is when Geoff talks about the design and development tools, including multidisciplinary optimization and simulation tools developed internally at Archer, that were used to arrive at what Geoff calls productivity requirements of payload, range, and speed, as well as other requirements related to the infrastructure footprint, turnaround time, manufacturability, maintainability and many others. You will also hear from Geoff about the reasons for going with a battery electric and piloted configuration, as opposed to an autonomous aircraft with a hybrid or hydrogen propulsion system, about the economics of eVTOLs, and a deep dive into the certification process, system safety process, as well as differences between the FAA and EASA when it comes to probabilities for catastrophic failure conditions.  Enjoy the conversation with Geoff Bower!
#29: Greg Brenneman; Leadership in Aviation, Business, and Investment
Dec 6 2022
#29: Greg Brenneman; Leadership in Aviation, Business, and Investment
You’ll really enjoy our talk with Greg Brenneman. Getting insight from a leader in aviation, business, and investment gives us a great and broad perspective as we innovate at the intersection of tech and flight.  Some of you may know Greg as the President of Continental Airlines and an extraordinary airline and turnaround leader, some as a CEO or Board member of a number of large companies, and some know Greg as Executive Chairman of CCMP Capital Advisors, a leading private equity firm. What we discuss: ·         Greg shares his perspective on the aviation industry today – and how it has evolved in the last several years and the extra level of discipline that COVID brought to the airline industry.·         We discuss how technology has evolved over the years, and listen to the opportunities Greg believes could be addressed by today’s technology companies.·         Listen to his perspectives on advanced mobility – how he would view advanced mobility if running an airline today – and the many near and long-term opportunities for advanced mobility. ·         And for AAM companies who intend to be both OEMs and operators; what to be aware of and pay attention to. ·         Listen to what he looks for in companies he’s about to invest in – and the leadership of those companies.·         And the first steps Greg takes when running a company or turning around a company – and the lessons from his one sheet of paper.·         And listen to the advice he gives to the innovator and the business leader.Thanks again Greg!
#28 Dennis Muilenburg: AAM strategic perspective
Nov 19 2022
#28 Dennis Muilenburg: AAM strategic perspective
In this episode, we have the great pleasure of talking to Dennis Muilenburg. Dennis needs no introduction, but let’s highlight a few of his accomplishments – before his current role as CEO and Chairman of the Board of New Vista Acquisition Corporation, a Special Purpose Acquisition Company – or SPAC – Dennis was CEO and Chairman of the board of Directors at The Boeing Company, where he started as an engineering intern in 1985.In his close to 40 years of experience in aerospace and defense, Dennis has seen it all: from engineering and program management of advanced civil and future combat systems (including the F-22, Airborne Laser, the Condor reconnaissance aircraft, and High Speed Civil Transport)…to leading the development and implementation of operational and growth initiatives across the Boeing enterprise. Relevant to our discussion today, Dennis led the formation of Boeing Horizon X, an innovation arm focused on startup investments in high growth areas of autonomy, propulsion, cybersecurity, space systems, computing, advanced air mobility, advanced materials, and a few others. Given his deep aerospace roots, his visionary mindset, and the fact that he ran a company that has had a dramatic impact on humanity, we asked Dennis to talk about the aviation industry (including advanced air mobility) from a strategic perspective, and to give the entrepreneurs in our audience a taste of what it’s like to run a global aerospace company. Listen to what Dennis considers the key geostrategic forces acting on aviation, how new technologies could change the distribution of profits along the aviation value chain, the role of autonomy, and how the convergence of mega markets and mega technology trends set the stage for the most innovative decade in the history of aviation. We also discuss the potential for near term use cases in advanced air mobility such as drone delivery to revolutionize logistics and e-commerce. Lastly, Dennis shares invaluable advice to entrepreneurs on how to navigate the aerospace industry and build a culture of courage and humility.
#24 Christian Ramsey and Ryan Braun: next-generation avionics for manned and unmanned flight
Sep 26 2022
#24 Christian Ramsey and Ryan Braun: next-generation avionics for manned and unmanned flight
Today we welcome Christian Ramsey and Ryan Braun from uAvionix to discuss next-generation avionics. Ryan and Christian lead a successful company with real products for clear industry use-cases – in this case with size, weight, and power-optimized avionics – while straddling both the manned and unmanned markets. Listen to their conversation on the benefits of being in both markets. This is so important as we hear from so many who have yet to build their capabilities, are hoping for a variety of conditions that may or may not occur, with use-cases that have yet to be proven.  The uAvionix approach speaks to the benefits of building capabilities that have a rapid return on investment in today’s market for today’s needs – while creating capabilities in unmanned markets that, yes, exist today, and have the potential to rapidly and expansively grow in size and scope. We talk about the technologies necessary for the integration of UAS into the airspace system: autopilots, command & control radios, high integrity GPS receivers, cloud-based beyond visual line of sight command & control networks, and ADS-B.  You’ll enjoying hearing about what drove the need for ADS-B – why it was so important to our industry and for the foundation of uAvionix, why it is and isn’t a good option for small drones, and yet so important for manned aircraft.  We discuss the AAM supply chain, the role of certified avionics in the unmanned aircraft industry, vertical integration as well as lessons learned in building and selling a profitable and fast-growing avionics company serving both the unmanned and manned markets.  One of the many reasons uAvionix has been successful is that they took an established capability and introduced it to markets with clear use-cases. Listen to how they took their tech to smaller airports, where the airports are sometimes blind when understanding airspace around them…and where a lot happens on ramps and taxiways and where coordination is historically through verbal communication. ADS-B brings the same benefits to an airport that it brings to aircraft…helping to prevent, in this case ground incursions and providing a full range of intelligence, including where aircraft come and where they’re going, as well as providing runway friction information. And rather than building their own business intelligence platforms and selling them throughout this vast market, they partnered with companies that already have their own platforms and broad market acceptance, as represented with the recent market announcement of their recent partnership with PASSUR Aerospace. Finally, listen to the importance of growing a viable, profitable company from the offset – listen to their advice on the importance of running profitable operations from the beginning – which builds a stronger and more attractive opportunity should the time be right to raise funds for more expansive opportunities.  You’ll enjoy listening their to experiences in the early days of their business – echoing what many of our business leaders have said as they started their businesses – and the fundamentals they would pass along to our audience of budding and established business leaders.