PITTSFIELD — Less than a year after receiving a $300,000 incentive package to relocate to Pittsfield, United Aircraft Technologies has landed a $1.15 million Defense Department contract with the U.S. Army that will allow the firm to add up to five new local jobs.
UAT, which makes lightweight plastic clamps designed to improve fuel economy and simplify maintenance in aircraft, will be using that technology to develop those devices for new U.S. Army helicopters through a Defense Department modernization program known as “Future of Vertical Lift (FVL),” said CEO Evaguel Rhysing, who co-founded the company three years ago in Troy, N.Y., with her husband, Daryian.
The announcement came Tuesday during a meeting and facility tour with Pittsfield Mayor Linda M. Tyer, Director of Community Development Deanna Ruffer and Business Development Manager Michael Coakley, at the firm’s headquarters at 273 Newell St.
UAT will be replacing the metal clamps that are used in the current U.S. Army’s Blackhawk and Kiowa helicopters with lightweight plastic versions that are intended to reduce the weight of these aircraft between 50 and 100 pounds, and make it easier to monitor their electrical systems.
“There’s thousands of them in a single rotocraft,” Rhysing said, referring to the metal clamps. “We will replace them with a lightweight plastic one that has sensors that can map, monitor and diagnose electrical systems taking something that takes weeks down to hours.”
According to the Congressional Research Service, the FVL program is a research and development effort dedicated to discovering, investigating and refining the technologies to provide the next generation of vertical airlift for the U.S. Armed Forces. The Army lists the program as one of its top six modernization priorities.
Rhysing said the Army is developing two new models of helicopters to replace the current Blackhawk and Kiowa models, which are based on designs that were first developed during the 1960s. The program is in its early stages; aircraft developed through this initiative aren’t expected to be operational until the 2030s.
With the new contract, UAT is hoping to add between four and five new employees in Pittsfield sometime this fall.
Founded in Troy during the fall of 2018, UAT came to Pittsfield last November with four employees and currently has nine working locally. The company still operates a satellite office in Troy, but eventually plans to move all of its operations to Pittsfield. The Rhysings recently bought a house in Pittsfield, Evaguel said. Dariyan Rhysing, the company’s chief technical officer, developed the lightweight plastic clamps after he received carpal tunnel syndrome installing the metal clamps as an aircraft mechanic for the Army and Navy.
The City Council voted to award the $300,000 incentive package that allowed UAT to move here in November. On Tuesday, Tyer referred to the company’s local growth since then as “absolutely phenomenal.”
Tyer was in attendance when UAT received the top prize in small business accelerator Lever of North Adams’ first Berkshire Manufacturing Challenge event in 2019. Rhysing said Tuesday that the $25.000 award money helped the company get off the ground.
“Their presentation was exemplary and they went on to win that pitch contest,” Tyer said.
Later that year, UAT received an additional $50,000 for being one of the top finishing teams in the MassChallenge accelerator program in Boston. The firm wanted to move to Pittsfield to be closer to its manufacturer, Sinicon Plastics in Dalton.
The company met with the city’s Red Carpet Team, which was established to provide prospective businesses with a single point of entry, before the incentive package was formed.
“There was no doubt in my mind that we wanted to support them,” Tyer said. “They were doing something extraordinarily innovative. This was a company that was going to grow not only in the number of employees but in their contributions to our economy and to our community.”