Heavy load drone maker planning to setup shop in Lakeland

Posted at 6:30 PM, Apr 14, 2017

A Norwegian drone maker plans to setup shop in Lakeland — but these are not your Christmas gift-type drones.

Griff Aviation manufactures heavy load drones that are designed to lift 500 pounds or more.

“We will be assembling here in for distribution throughout North America,” said Mark Boyd, Operations Manager for the company.

Many of the products are still going through testing, but could be a game changer in lifting heavy machinery, products or even people.

Boyd said that’s what sets their product apart from the rest.

“We can lift hay barrels on tractors, we can heard cattle,” he said.

They are even working on a drone that would be able to rescue a man overboard from a cruise ship or pick-up an injured hiker.

“We don’t want to run from it. It is apart of aviation because it is now regulated by the FAA,” said Gene Conrad, Director at Lakeland Linder Regional Airport.

The company is expected to sign a lease at a building next to the airport.

Boyd plans to move to Lakeland shortly and will create a handful of jobs, but we are told it won’t take many to get it going.

“Anything that goes in the air we want to be apart of it,” Conrad added.

Now with Amazon and UPS both experimenting with heavy-load drones, Griff Aviation may be stepping into a market rich with potential.

And it appears much of it will be happening in our own backyard.