Robotics & Automation News

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Reliable Robotics launches new cargo airline

Reliable Robotics, a developer of automated aircraft systems, has appointmented David DeRose as director of finance and Lee Tomlinson as director of operations to the company’s fully owned Part 135 airline subsidiary in preparation for commercial cargo flights.

DeRose and Tomlinson join Jeff Drees, director of cargo strategy, to begin cargo services this year.

Reliable Robotics will continue to grow its airline team and operational experience as part of a phased certification approach to bring its Remotely Operated Aircraft System and services to market.

Jeff Drees, director of cargo strategy for Reliable Robotics and former co-owner and chief commercial officer of Ameriflight, says: “We are working with leading cargo carriers eager to integrate remotely piloted systems into their fleets.

“By demonstrating crewed air cargo delivery first, we will build a solid foundation for the transition to remotely operated flights.”

Investing in an experienced team

Reliable Robotics is focused on launching a new type of airline powered by advanced automation. Starting from the ground up, the airline team is prioritizing hiring world-class talent and establishing safety management and operational procedures.

Drees, DeRose and Tomlinson bring a combined 80-plus years of strategic and tactical expertise in the air cargo industry and will build the business while developing operational procedures specific to remotely piloted aircraft that are aligned with the company’s certification plans.

Robert Rose, co-founder and CEO of Reliable Robotics, says: “We’ve taken deliberate steps to recruit a reputable team and further develop our experience in the air cargo sector, but certifying aircraft systems for safe routine operations takes time.

“We will introduce automation into the airline operation once we have proven to ourselves and the FAA that these systems can be deployed safely for commercial use.”

Jeff Drees, director of cargo strategy

Drees will lead cargo operations and recruit key hires for the Part 135 subsidiary. He spent 40 years in the aviation industry starting as a pilot and spanning all aspects of airline operations.

Drees served as Chief Commercial Officer for Ameriflight and oversaw more than 1,500 domestic and international departures per week while the company was flying over 75,000 hours per year.

He managed customer relationships with FedEx, UPS and DHL, a large bank consortium and nuclear medicine organizations with time-sensitive deliveries. During his 35-year tenure, Drees became a co-owner of the company and also held the position of Executive Vice President of Operations.

David DeRose, director of finance

DeRose will lead finance for the new airline subsidiary. He has spent much of his career in aviation including 25 years at Ameriflight.

He became a co-owner of the airline, and in his roles as executive vice president and chief financial officer, DeRose provided strategic vision and established formal policies, procedures and reporting metrics for all operational departments across 700 employees.

Notably, he led the acquisition and integration of airlines, and he was key in the company’s management buyout and subsequent sale.

Ameriflight became the biggest 135 cargo carrier in the world, operating 175 aircraft in the US and Puerto Rico for the largest logistics integrators and all overnight shippers.

DeRose also has significant aircraft purchase, lease and financing experience participating in over 100 transactions.

Lee Tomlinson, director of operations

Tomlinson will run the airline and serve as the contact with the Federal Aviation Administration. His operational experience in the cargo feeder industry spans over 20 years.

Tomlinson has worked with numerous cargo airlines including IFL Group, Mountain Air Cargo, West Air, American MedFlight, serving as line pilot, Chief Pilot and Director of Operations.

He has Part 135 and Part 121 experience and has flown across the US operating various airframes such as the Cessna 208, King Air 350, ATR, Metroliner, Convair 5800 and F27.

He is experienced in conducting comprehensive audits to ensure regulatory compliance in all key areas including operations specifications, manuals and safety management to meet local, state and federal requirements.

Today commercial aircraft typically fly through larger hubs, while many rural and remote communities are not serviced regularly.

Reliable Robotics is building a remotely piloted system that has the capability to land on almost any airstrip, enabling point-to-point deliveries to underserved regional airports.

Once the system is certified for commercial use, cargo operators will be able to expand direct routes to more locations and gain the flexibility to fly more frequently with remotely piloted aircraft.

The versatile system can be adapted to almost any aircraft, including new electric and hybrid electric propulsion platforms.

Reliable Robotics recently announced Series C funding to continue to expand its team, support certification plans for the Cessna 208 program and launch cargo service.

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