Flight Landata Office

When Flight Landata was founded in 1991, its niche was aviation services.

Recovery Act Impact: Flight Landata

  • $600K research grant

  • Adapting sensor on a satellite for aerial collection

  • Will provide thermal imaging - crucial for army use in Afghanistan

Nearly two decades later, the company is soaring thanks to its Buckeye Sensor System -- aerial remote sensors which are helping the US Army locate Improvised Explosive Devices (IEDs) in Afghanistan.

"These are sensors that do very rapid prototyping," said Jeffrey Smith, CEO of Landata. "We're on the reconnaissance side."

For Flight Landata, a stimulus-funded phase two Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) grant of nearly $600K, is enabling the company to further help the troops overseas by adapting NASA's infrared sensor on a satellite for aerial collection.

Flight Landata Laboratory
"We made a miniaturized airborne server," explained Dr. Xiuhong Sun, a founder of the company and its CTO. "It is a back end instrument to support the cameras and is integrated into the Buckeye."

The camera, Sun noted, is extremely precise and provides thermal imaging which is crucial to the army's missions as that enables the officers to "see" the hotspots. Previous attempts at developing this technology involved a camera that was very heavy and required a lot of manpower to fly it.

Flight Landata Laboratory
"This [stimulus] money is helping us grow the company, develop a better product and hire more people," said Smith.

According to Smith, the project had already been approved by NASA but there was no funding to support it. Once the stimulus program was implemented, the project was able to move forward. "This project went forward because NASA got the funding from stimulus," said Smith. "It was a high priority item."

And for good reason, added Smith. The thermal imaging allows the user to identify heat signatures under foliage and because the areas that the army is currently

Flight Landata Laboratory
operating in has a lot of canopies of trees, the ability to do that is crucial to saving lives.

Flight Landata currently employs nearly 80 people - 20 people at its site in North Andover and the remaining employees in Afghanistan. But Smith said that as this stimulus-funded research project expands, that number will grow.

"There is great interest in getting this technology deployed," said Smith. "Once it's deployed, we'll need pilots, technicians and support staff. For every engineer we hire, we probably hire 10 more people. It's good for the military, good for the country and it allows us to stay in business."