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MSU receives FAA approval for Stark Aerospace flights

COLUMBUS — The Federal Aviation Administration has issued a Certificate of Authorization (COA) to Mississippi State University for Stark Aerospace to fly the Heron Unmanned Aerial System (UAS) from Golden Triangle Regional Airport (GTRA).

A COA is a waiver issued by the FAA to allow limited UAS flight in National Air Space. MSU is the public sponsor of the COA, which specifically allows for the flight of the Stark Aerospace Heron inside the traffic control area of GTRA.

“This is a significant step as we continue to establish the Golden Triangle as a leader in the aerospace industry,” said Mike Hainsey, executive director of GTRA.

GTRA is unique among commercial service airports as a very limited number have a COA for UAS operations.

Dr. Robert Moorhead, director of MSU’s Geosystems Research Institute and the university’s lead on this COA project, said, “The COA effort between Mississippi State University and Stark Aerospace facilitates the flight of unmanned systems in the Golden Triangle, further strengthening the university’s aerospace engineering program and our efforts toward regional excellence in unmanned aerial systems.”

The UAS Production Division of Stark Aerospace originated at MSU’s Raspet Flight Lab, and Stark has utilized the MSU Bagley School of Engineering for training.

The Heron Medium Altitude Long Endurance (MALE) UAS is produced at Stark Aerospace. The Stark Flight Operations Team has flown the Heron in support of the U.S. government and has experience flying the aircraft in commercial airspace outside of the U.S. With a 550-pound simultaneous multi-sensor payload ability, 30,000-foot altitude, and more than 30 hours endurance, the Heron UAS has superior reconnaissance and surveillance capabilities and is in use in 27 countries.

Source: Stark Aerospace


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  1. Watch out for Power Lines!! Stark has some serious issues to overcome before they can fly a Heron at GTR. They are a bunch of inexperienced managers trying to fly a $5.5M RC plane so they can brag around Columbus about what big shots they are. Unfortunately, they had a shot to fly these UAV’s in theatre for SouthCom, but had so many technical failures, they were continually AOG and were sent home. Most of the experienced Flight Ops team quit or were let go, so Stark is starting all over with the program. If I were to guess, Stark flying out of GTR will result in a catstrophic explosion somewhere in Lowndes County.

  2. I don’t know how these guys think they are going to fly a UAV out of GTR. Locally in Columbus-Starkville, this company and their principle managers have such a bad reputation that people are embarassed to work there. It’s a local joke when you see a group of guys walk in with their Stark shirts on, everyone wonders “How did those clowns get hired to run an Aerospace company?”.

  3. I see the previous 2 people must have worked there too.
    1.) Stark CEO was fired from American Eurocopter.
    2.) This guy hired his unemployed next door neighbors to manage Stark.
    3.) They hired mostly qualified lower managers to start up dpts.
    4.) When the Israelis or Board asked where the money was, 1 by 1, these lower managers were sacrificied to cover for the ‘vip’s’.
    5.) After seeing the writing on the wall for Stark, some managers were able to jump ship b4 getting axed themselves. Hourly employees (and flight ops personell) are leaving for Eurocopter and awaiting Aurora Flight Sciences to hire them when they begin drone builds in 2012.
    6.) Co. has 1 UAV contract; Israel gave this contract to start the co. in 2006. They are behind schedule and can’t get 1 outer wing shipped to NG (or US army). No contracts since. The cameras they make are breaking even in that dpt. This place is losing money faster than a church lady in a bingo parlor.
    7.) Front office is the most inexperienced, while cockiest people I have every been around and I have worked with US civilian/military and foreign management/engineers. Israel, federal tax dollars, and MS tax dollars have paid Stark’s way so far. Boy, are some people stupid….

  4. They just caught their 1 Heron outside the US on fire. Way to go new Stark flight ops team! Is this team 5 or 6? So many qualified guys were fired and replaced by inexperienced hourly personnel, I lose count. To future shopper, do not buy their demo @ a discounted rate – it wil smell like burnt wires and duct tape – and it may contain a few expired parts.
    PS- Why is this ‘bird’ still in Panama? Who signed off on sending a military weapon ‘outbound only’? Answer: The 2 guys who should have executed this were fired. The 2 Program Managers took over this difficult task, paid $80k more and still sent it ‘1 way’ – oops!
    Thanks Thad for all the earmarked money. Stark has spent that money well. And don’t worry taxpayers, the inside click is still in place and receiving bonuses for their successes and decision making.
    Where did the flight ops personnel go? Why did they leave? Why did the military guys in QA, Production Mgt, and PR walkout too? Who signed off on tho$e contracts? Who $igned off on the budget? Why is production behind schedule when you only have 1 contract for 1 product? Where are the parts to the bird when all parts were ordered and arrived years ago, according to records? Where’s the tax dollars?
    No wings, no problem. Please ask a lot of questions to their ‘top brass’. You will find out who you’re dealing with very quickly.
    Promises, promises….

  5. What’s left of the place by now. ? One hack and a hand full of doomed sheep. Nice guard shack, put some dummies in there to make it look occupied. Still paying that closer in the front office. Burn the furniture this winter or ship to mini me in Texas. What a waste of human resources !

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