Gretchen West has been a drone industry voice for 15 years, working in a variety of advocacy and advisory groups from AUVSI to her last position at Hogan Lovells. Throughout those years, West has taken a leadership role in the industry: co-founding advocacy groups like the Commercial Drone Alliance and Women of Commercial Drones, and participating in a wide variety of influential regulatory committees helping to form drone laws.
Now, West has been named to the top spot at Schiebel Aircraft, Inc. (SAI) – a U.S. subsidiary of Schiebel Group, a leading European manufacturer of helicopter UAVs. Gretchen West was one of DRONELIFE’s first “Girls Can’t Drone” profiles – we reached out to get her comments on the new position.
“When I first entered the unmanned systems industry 15 years ago, almost all UAS were larger and I’m excited to come full-circle in my career and focus on building a successful business for Schiebel Aircraft in the U.S.”, says West “Working again across multiple domains – defense, civil and commercial – will broaden Schiebel Aircraft’s US presence and I’m thrilled to be leading this effort.”
The following is a Schiebel Group press release.
SCHIEBEL GROUP APPOINTS DRONE INDUSTRY VETERAN GRETCHEN WEST AS PRESIDENT AND CEO OF SCHIEBEL AIRCRAFT, INC. (SAI) IN THE UNITED STATES
Fairfax, VA, 01 August 2019 – Schiebel Group announces expansion of its U.S. subsidiary, Schiebel Aircraft, Inc., with the appointment of Gretchen West as President and CEO to facilitate the growth of its unrivaled CAMCOPTER® S-100 UAS in the United States with a focus on the tremendous opportunities in the U.S. defense, civil and commercial markets.
“Gretchen has been at the forefront of the U.S. unmanned systems industry for 15 years and has advocated on behalf of the global community to reduce barriers to enable operations and general use,” stated Hans Georg Schiebel, Chairman of the Schiebel Group. “With experience across multiple industries – defense, civil, and commercial – Gretchen brings a wealth of knowledge and experience to SAI. We are thrilled to welcome Gretchen to our global team and to serve these new markets under her leadership.”
Most recently, Gretchen served as a senior director in the Global Unmanned Aircraft Systems (UAS) practice group at leading law firm Hogan Lovells focusing on drone policy initiatives and strategies for commercial drone market expansion. She also serves as Co-executive Director of the Commercial Drone Alliance, an independent non-profit, where she advocates on behalf of the commercial drone industry for a stronger and expanded policy and regulatory environment for UAS integration. Prior to those roles, Gretchen served as Executive Vice President at AUVSI where she oversaw the association’s advocacy, business development, and strategy efforts.
Widely recognized as a pioneer in the commercial drone market and other emerging technologies, Gretchen has been widely featured in print and TV media outlets and has educated various industries at over hundred conferences and events on the benefits of commercial drone technologies. She has also represented the unmanned systems industry in front of Congress and other Federal Agencies, providing testimony, briefings, and educational presentations.
“Having known the proven technology that the Schiebel Group brings with the CAMCOPTER® S-100 UAS over the course of my career in the unmanned systems industry, I am thrilled with the opportunity to lead Schiebel Aircraft here in America,” stated Gretchen West. “I look forward to working with the Federal Government to integrate our system, to demonstrate our capabilities to customers across all domains – defense, civil, and commercial – and to develop a robust market for our unique and unparalleled UAS. The opportunities in the U.S. are great, and I’m excited to build out this company and team.”
About Schiebel Aircraft: Schiebel Aircraft, Inc. (SAI), the United States subsidiary of the Vienna-based Schiebel Group, demonstrates a commitment to local industry and is backed by Schiebel’s international reputation for quality products and exceptional after-sales services. The US base focuses on contract management with the revolutionary CAMCOPTER® S-100 Unmanned Air System (UAS) and provides the United States with a permanent and comprehensive program, logistics and sales hub.
About the CAMCOPTER® S-100: Schiebel’s CAMCOPTER® S-100 Unmanned Air System (UAS) is an operationally proven capability for military and civilian applications. The Vertical Takeoff and Landing (VTOL) UAS requires no prepared area or supporting equipment to enable launch and recovery. It operates by day and by night, under adverse weather conditions, with a beyond line-of-sight capability out to 200 km / 108 nm, over land and sea. Its carbon fiber and titanium fuselage provides capacity for a wide range of payload/endurance combinations up to a service ceiling of 5,500 m / 18,000 ft. In a typical configuration, the CAMCOPTER® S-100 carries a 34-kg / 75-lbs payload up to 10 hours and is powered with AVGas or JP-5 heavy fuel. High-definition payload imagery is transmitted to the control station in real-time. In addition to its standard GPS waypoint or manual navigation, the S-100 can successfully operate in environments where GPS is not available, with missions planned and controlled via a simple point-and-click graphical user interface. The high-tech unmanned helicopter is backed by Schiebel’s excellent customer support and training services.
Miriam McNabb is the Editor-in-Chief of DRONELIFE and CEO of JobForDrones, a professional drone services marketplace, and a fascinated observer of the emerging drone industry and the regulatory environment for drones. Miriam has a degree from the University of Chicago and over 20 years of experience in high tech sales and marketing for new technologies.
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