Dan Brady joined Aurora Flight Sciences as Vice President of Aerostructures in June 2007 from Vought Aircraft Industries where he was Director of Global Supply Chain Management and previously Director of Boeing and Bell Military Programs. At Aurora he is accountable for overall program development and program execution for component production of prime contractors. He works directly with Northrop Grumman on the Global Hawk programs and Sikorsky Aircraft on multiple programs.
How does Aurora fit into the aerospace industry?
Aurora’s primary focus has been on developing unmanned aircraft for scientific and military missions, specifically high altitude and endurance composite applications. We are also a player in the aerostructures market, where we can leverage our aircraft capabilities and provide innovative and quality products like the Phantom Eye all-composite wing to Boeing, and the main rotor pylon and nacelles for the CH-53K new heavy-lift helicopter for Sikorsky. We are also trying to expand further into the commercial marketplace.
Is there an R&D or aerospace sector you’re most confident about?
The business jet and commercial market has been going through a tough cycle. But at end of the day, people want and need to be mobile. They look for affordable ticket prices, which will push demand for lower-cost, more efficient aircraft. This demand will continue to drive for new, more efficient aircraft with new technology, which will in turn drive continued growth in the use of composites going forward.
With a declining Department of Defense budget, decline in military spending and the number of programs available, the military sector of aerospace will change and the technology now used in this area must adapt. We are taking the composites technology we use in unmanned aircraft for the military and seeing how we can adapt it into other markets. We’ve barely scratched the surface of how and where composites technology can be used. For example, unmanned vehicles can be useful not only in protecting unfriendly airspace and during times of war, but also evolve into border patrol, weather surveillance and cut across other market segments.
What would help the composites industry expand?
It’s just a matter of moving forward and investing in the future. As a company, we are investing in R&D in the unmanned aircraft market. We keep an eye on composite raw materials developers in terms of new and advancing material products and look for potential applications they could have on aircraft.