There was once a time when Detroit was the center of not only the automotive world, but the aviation world, too. Back in the early 20th century, the Detroit Aircraft Corp
produced more aircraft than any other company and owned a number of subsidiaries, including the company that is now Lockheed Martin. The Detroit Aircraft Corp didn’t survive the Great Depression.
"It struck me that if it had survived that time we would have an automotive industry and an aerospace industry," says Jon Rimanelli.
That inspired Rimanelli to launch Detroit Aircraft Corp
, the 21st century version of its namesake company specializing in unmanned aircraft (drone) technology and operating out of Detroit City Airport. Rimanelli first started playing with the idea when speaking to NASA officials about how the U.S. aviation and radar systems need to be reformed to accommodate to 21st century technology. Rimanelli believes that such reforms could open up the vast majority of U.S. airports to most of the populace, which currently doesn't have access to them because its members can’t facilitate commercial flights.
"99 percent of the population gets access to one percent of the airports while one percent of then population gets access to the whole system," Rimanelli says.
He launched Detroit Aircraft Corp
in 2011 with the idea of enabling that access through unmanned aircraft. He sharpened that vision earlier this year when Detroit Aircraft Corp won a contract with Lockheed Martin to manufacture battery charger stations in Detroit. It is currently looking to lock down another contract with Lockheed Martin to make drones.
That work has allowed Detroit Aircraft Corp to hire seven people over the last year, expanding its staff to 12 people. It is currently looking to acquire A3 Electronics
in Livonia as it prepares to begin building hundreds of units and employ several dozen people.
"We'd like to lead the world in aircraft manufacturing not once, not twice, but three times," Rimanelli says.
Source: Jon Rimanelli, founder & CEO of Detroit Aircraft Corp
Writer: Jon Zemke
Read more about Metro Detroit's growing entrepreneurial ecosystem at SEMichiganStartup.com.