TWST: What is Flight Safety Technologies?
Mr. Cotton: We are a 10-year old technology development company focused on filling the most pressing capacity and safety needs in the aviation industry. We have four technologies currently under development. These are the Aircraft Wake Safety Management System [AWSM], SOCRATES, which is a wake sensor intended as a part of AWSM, the UNICORN collision alerting and ground proximity warning system, and our TIICM counter-MANPADS missile defense system for aircraft. We are working in an industry, the aviation industry, that is very robust and to fill needs that are very clear. Our capabilities are directed at fulfilling those needs. We have patents in place on some of our technologies and patents applied for in the others.
TWST: If we were speaking around 12 months ago, what was the list of things to do, the agenda for the company? What did you achieve?
Mr. Cotton: One of the things we have done during the last 12 months has been to establish our relationship with the FAA as the government entity responsible for aviation technology development. What has happened is that NASA had been the government organization responsible for sponsoring the development of these technologies. NASA has largely withdrawn in their aeronautics program from building things for the FAA. So we have been pursuing our relationship with FAA itself, which now has the responsibility for developing the components of the next generation air traffic management system. In addition to that, we have been granted an Air Force Small Business Innovative Research or SBIR contract to develop the UNICORN technology. That's for aircraft collision alerting and ground proximity warning intended both for manned aircraft and unmanned aerial vehicles. We are just about finished with Phase I of that contract and have applied for a Phase II contract under that SBIR. We also were instrumental in securing government funding for continued TIICM development leading to a live fire test of that technology.
TWST: What's the agenda for the next 12 months? What would make that time frame a success?
Mr. Cotton: During the next 12 months, we are hoping to achieve both government and private funding for our technology developments to accelerate their completion to become marketable products. It requires that we bring them to a more mature technology readiness level. Our prime focus is bringing their technology readiness levels up to where they need to either market the technologies to one of the major aerospace manufacturers and system integrators or in the case of some of the technologies, to have them produced and marketed by ourselves.
TWST: Are there growth areas beyond that present agenda?
Mr. Cotton: Beyond that, we still have other technologies that we've been just keeping on the back burner and extensions of the work that we've got going right now. Each of these technologies independently has a tremendous market potential. And any or all of them will put us in a very good position indeed. I believe that our strengths are in knowing the aviation industry, understanding its needs and being able to respond quickly with technology solutions that our people understand very well. To fill those needs, we can be more adroit at getting that accomplished, being in the right place with the right solution more quickly than any of the big companies can. They are just too bureaucratic for that and tend to wait until the government statements of requirements are totally finalized before getting involved. I think that in this current environment the FAA is under extreme pressure to do something about the lack of air traffic system capacity which manifests itself through inordinate delays that air travelers are currently experiencing. They know that this next generation air traffic system needs to move forward rapidly, but they are struggling with how to make that happen. Because of our experience in the industry over the decades, we know what the critical problems are that need to be addressed first. We are focusing our efforts to fill those and to make the FAA aware that we can provide those things and at an earlier time frame than anyone else.
TWST: What's the financial snapshot of Flight Safety Tech today, balance sheet, and P&L? What are the strengths? What items are you focused on for improvement? Are there funding requirements to address?
Mr. Cotton: We are debt free as we always have been. We try to get as much from government funding as possible to actually fund the development of our technologies. We have just under $2 million in the bank at the moment. We are actively seeking private source funding in addition to the government contracts that we now have, for one of the developments, that's the UNICORN development, through a private placement into an R&D company. That will provide those investors with R&D tax credits and Flight Safety Technologies will enter into a contract with that company to perform the research and development of the UNICORN technology. From the beginning of funding, the Unicorn development itself will last about 27 months taking Unicorn through certification to the point of marketability. It's a combination of private and government funding that we are seeking simultaneously in order to complete these developments.