Chinese manufactured unmanned aircraft systems (UAS) made their debut in the United States on Tuesday at AUVSI's Unmanned Systems 2013 in Washington D.C.
Ewatt, a Wuhan, Hubei Province-based company, is showcasing a collection of UASs used for inspecting power lines in China. The company is building an $18 million UAS industrial park, which will have an initial capability of producing up to 200 aircraft per year, with the possibility of increasing to produce 1,000.
Dennis Fetters, former owner of Revolution Helicopters, joined Ewatt four years ago, and helped it develop the Hubei Ewatt EWZ-S8 OctoCopter, which costs $50,000. The vehicle recently helped with rescue efforts after an earthquake struck northwestern China.
Ewatt's EWG-I Fixed Wing UAS can fly up to five hours inspecting power line, and features a military-standard parachute system for landings.
Fetters said he believes China will eventually outpace the United States in terms of UAS capabilities, primarily because of the less cumbersome aircraft certification process and other regulations that they're not burdened with.
Although none of Ewatt's UASs are certified outside of China, the company is seeking distributors from other nations and at that time would begin pursuing international type certificates.
"I believe that China is going to be one of the leaders in the world for this type of technology, because of the freedom that they give us to work on this type of technology," said Fetters. "One of the reasons that I don't develop in the United States is because of all the regulations involved, and its only getting worse. China doesn't have those regulations, and we're free to develop and they encourage us to develop this technology."