Aerospace Entrepreneur Aims to Deploy Electric Planes in Ukraine Conflict to Aid His Homeland
Gene Avakyan, a Ukrainian-born aerospace engineer and entrepreneur, has developed groundbreaking “robot” planes that he believes have the potential to revolutionize aviation and alter the course of conflicts. Avakyan, who left Ukraine as a child during tumultuous times, has a personal connection to his birthplace and hopes that his technological innovations can contribute to the war effort and help his homeland.
The 52-year-old founder of Edison Aerospace initially established the company to create robotic aircraft for crop-dusting purposes. However, he now aspires to design military applications for his creations in collaboration with US defense officials and Ukrainian politicians. Avakyan’s proposed aircraft designs include reconnaissance models for locating anti-aircraft missile batteries, cargo delivery systems, and munitions deployment capabilities.
Recalling his own harrowing journey out of Ukraine as a young boy in 1980, Avakyan emphasizes the need to be prepared for sudden changes and sacrifices. His mission as an entrepreneur is driven by a desire to support Ukraine’s military and agricultural aviation sectors, as he believes the country presents significant opportunities for modernization and growth. Avakyan envisions his aircraft, capable of carrying substantial payloads over considerable distances, as vehicles that can enhance agricultural productivity or even be utilized for strategic purposes.
Avakyan, who studied aerospace engineering at UCLA, currently resides in Florida but maintains a deep attachment to Ukraine and a strong sense of injustice regarding the ongoing conflict. He expresses disbelief at the invasion and subsequent events, but commends the international support that prevented Ukraine from being overrun by Russia. Eager to contribute to the right side of history, Avakyan aligns himself with the unequivocal nature of the war in Ukraine.
Avakyan is currently collaborating with the US Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) to further develop his technology. His innovative approach involves the use of electric, optionally-manned aircraft that can be piloted from a ground-based truck trailer or operated autonomously. These aircraft have an approximate one-hour flight duration, powered by a battery comparable in size to the one used in Elon Musk’s Tesla Model 3. With a wingspan of 40 feet and the capacity to carry 200 gallons of payload for spraying purposes, Avakyan’s aircraft aim to replace conventional, manned crop-dusting planes.
Apart from their potential military applications, Avakyan hopes that his aircraft can aid in the reconstruction of Ukraine and improve agricultural practices worldwide. Current crop-dusting methods involve pilots maneuvering small planes at low altitudes and high speeds, posing significant risks. Avakyan’s vision is to enable existing pilots to transition to flying his planes, thereby increasing safety and reducing operating costs for crop-dusting companies.
Avakyan is also optimistic about the future of electric passenger planes, foreseeing their implementation initially in the form of air taxis. To realize this vision, he plans to secure funding for the development of several prototypes. Alongside Edison Aerospace, Avakyan and his wife, Victoria Unikel, have founded multiple other businesses, including VUGA Media Group, Gossip Stone TV, and 24Fashion TV, crediting their strong partnership for their collective success.
Reflecting on the dramatic transformation of his life since his childhood in Ukraine, Avakyan expresses gratitude for the opportunities and luxuries he now enjoys. He acknowledges the sacrifices his parents made to provide him with a better future, leaving the USSR to ensure that he could grow up in the United States. Avakyan’s deep appreciation for his present life fuels his drive to make a meaningful impact through his entrepreneurial endeavors.