Overwatch Imaging’s real-time fire perimeter mapping increases safety. (Overwatch Image) , an Oregon venture that specializes in airborne imaging systems, says it has won a multimillion-dollar investment from , which focuses on aviation solutions that are specialized to suit the needs of its clients in government and the commercial sector. The Series A funding deal, announced today, builds on an existing partnership between Overwatch and Tenax, a privately held company that’s based in Mississippi. It marks the first outside investment taken in by Overwatch, which was founded in 2016. Overwatch CEO and co-founder Greg Davis said the size of the investment amounts to millions of dollars, but he declined to be more precise. The money will go toward expanding Overwatch’s production operations into a larger facility in Hood River, Ore., and accelerating development of the company’s AI software for autonomous imagery collection and analysis. In a news release, Tenax Aerospace’s president, Taran Bakker, called Overwatch “an emerging leader in artificial intelligence and autonomy in airborne imaging.” “Overwatch Imaging has developed an exciting new technology that will be very valuable to customers with special missions involving surveillance, mapping or threat detection,” Bakker said. Tenax Aerospace provides special mission aircraft and related services to customers including the Federal Aviation Administration and the departments of Defense, Justice; Agriculture and Homeland Security. The company focuses on applications that are critical to national security and the public interest, including aerial fire suppression, aerial intelligence gathering and airborne data acquisition. Tenax and Overwatch are already working together on a U.S. Forest Service project related to monitoring and fighting forest fires. That project involves the use of Overwatch’s imaging system on Tenax’s aircraft. Future projects could focus on applications such as border surveillance and maritime traffic monitoring. Davis said Tenax Aerospace emerged as the ideal partner for Overwatch Imaging’s expansion campaign during a six-month process to assess potential investors. As a result of that process, Tenax will be contributing more than money: Bakker will be joining Davis and co-founder Nick Anderson on Overwatch’s board. “We immediately shared a common vision for the future,” said Davis, who’s a veteran of . “I am excited to have Taran’s expertise and enthusiasm on our board as we grow.”
The tail section of a FedEx 777 Freighter ecoDemonstrator flight-test airplane has been opened to reveal its auxiliary power unit, which contains a 3-D-printed titanium part. (Boeing Photo / Paul McElroy) The 50-50 to build auxiliary power units for airplanes now has a name: Initium Aerospace. Auxiliary power units, or APUs, are onboard engines that are used primarily to start an aircraft’s main engines. They also power aircraft systems on the ground when the main engines aren’t running, and can boost onboard power during flight if necessary. Boeing’s APUs are currently built by Honeywell and Pratt & Whitney, but Safran — which is headquartered in France — is raising its profile in the market. Initium’s rise is also part of Boeing’s drive to have a more vertically integrated supply chain, and boost its services business. “Initium” ccmes from the Latin word for “beginning” or “start,” which refers to an APU’s function as well as the thrust of the Boeing-Safran initiative. “This is an exciting milestone as we bring together the best of both companies to design and build an advanced APU that will create more lifecycle value for our customers,” Stan Deal, president and CEO of Boeing Global Services, . “This is further proof that Boeing is making strategic investments that strengthen our vertical capabilities and continue to expand our services portfolio.” The creation of Initium Aerospace follows . “I would like to congratulate everybody at Boeing and Safran who contributed to the creation of this new joint venture,” Safran CEO Philippe Petitcolin said. “Initium Aerospace is swiftly capitalizing on the vast expertise of both partners to provide state-of-the-art APUs and innovative solutions to customers. … We look forward to presenting the first demonstrator engine to the market.” The initial team consists of employees from the two parent companies, led by CEO Etienne Boisseau. Initial design and engineering work is being done in San Diego. Safran currently supplies a wide range of components to Boeing. It’s a partner with GE in the CFM International joint venture that produces LEAP-1B engines for the 737 MAX. Boeing and Safran also are partners in MATIS, a joint venture in Morocco that produces wiring products for several airframe and engine companies.