Boeing is investing an undisclosed amount in Robotic Skies, a company that provides aftermarket services for unmanned aircraft systems (UAS).
This follows an October 2018 announcement that the companies were starting to work together to develop MRO, supply chain, logistics and digital analytics capabilities for the UAS market—with the intention of expanding their relationship to provide “unified operations services.” The next steps, after this undisclosed minority investment, are to continue “going to market together” and to explore new business opportunities that they could develop for customers, says Stan Deal, president and CEO of Boeing Global Services.
The partnership then equity approach is similar to what Boeing, through its HorizonX Ventures investment arm, has done with other small, emerging-technology companies, such as ForeFlight, which it ended up buying in March after following a similar relationship development path. Deal sees the potential to do something similar with Robotic Skies.
So far, some of the biggest collaborations between the two companies have dealt with parts distribution through Boeing company Aviall and “exploiting digital solutions we’ve been able to use in the commercial aviation market,” including those available from Boeing’s Jeppesen subsidiary, says Deal.
Robotic Skies, founded in 2014, has customers in the U.S., Europe, Asia and the Middle East and services them through a brokered network of about 170 certified repair stations in 40 countries.
The investment in Robotic Skies expands Boeing’s global services footprint and “is another proof point of Boeing’s seriousness” to invest in a breadth of services to support its customers, says Deal.
Boeing HorizonX led the funding but the investment round also had participation from Thayer Ventures, Sun Mountain Capital and KickStart Seed Fund.