Gene Avakyan, an aerospace engineer and entrepreneur, has developed innovative “robot” planes that he believes can revolutionize aviation and make a significant impact in war-torn regions. Born in Kyiv, Ukraine, Avakyan experienced the hardships of growing up amidst tension before leaving his home country at a young age. Now the founder of Edison Aerospace, he initially set out to create robotic aircraft for agricultural purposes but is now exploring the potential of his creations in the military sector to support Ukraine.
Avakyan has been engaged in discussions with US defense officials and Ukrainian politicians regarding aircraft designs specifically intended for military applications. These designs include planes capable of locating anti-aircraft missile batteries, delivering cargo, and dropping munitions. His motivation stems from his personal connection to Ukraine and a desire to contribute to the country’s defense capabilities and agricultural modernization.
Reflecting on his childhood experiences, Avakyan recalls the challenges his family faced when leaving Ukraine, including encountering armed soldiers while crossing the border. These experiences have shaped his perspective and inspired his mission as an entrepreneur. He aims to assist Ukraine by leveraging advancements in military and agricultural aviation, recognizing the country’s potential as a significant market for agricultural development.
Avakyan, who studied aerospace engineering at UCLA, currently resides in Florida but remains deeply passionate about Ukraine and the ongoing conflict there. Despite his initial disbelief when the invasion began, he was relieved to witness Ukraine receiving support from the US and Europe, which prevented a swift takeover by Russia. Nevertheless, he recognizes the shocking events of the past year and seeks to be on the right side of history.
Avakyan’s current focus involves collaborating with the US Federal Government, particularly within the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA), to advance his technology. His groundbreaking concept revolves around electric, optionally-manned aircraft that can be piloted from a ground-based truck trailer or operate autonomously. These planes can fly for approximately one hour using a battery roughly equivalent in size to the one found in a Tesla Model Three.
With a wingspan of 40 feet and a payload capacity of 200 gallons, Avakyan’s full-sized aircraft have the potential to replace manned spray planes used in crop-dusting operations. Besides aiding in military efforts, he envisions his technology contributing to the reconstruction of Ukraine and enhancing agricultural practices worldwide. Currently, crop spraying involves pilots flying low and fast, posing significant risks. Avakyan’s aircraft aim to reduce fatalities caused by collisions with obstacles such as trees, hills, and power lines.
In addition to improving safety, Avakyan’s vision includes reducing operating costs for companies involved in crop-dusting. By introducing his planes, he hopes to alleviate financial burdens associated with purchasing and maintaining traditional aircraft, thereby improving profit margins for existing workers and companies.
Avakyan also anticipates the advent of electric passenger planes, starting with air taxis. To realize this vision, he is seeking funding to develop a series of prototypes. Alongside his wife, Victoria Unikel, an artist and businesswoman, Avakyan has founded several other successful ventures, including VUGA Media Group, Gossip Stone TV, and 24Fashion TV.
Avakyan expresses gratitude for the significant improvements in his life since childhood, acknowledging the sacrifices his parents made to ensure a better future for him in the US. He recognizes the importance of his wife’s support and describes their collaborative efforts in building their businesses. Avakyan and Unikel complement each other’s strengths, with Avakyan leading Edison Aerospace and Unikel taking the lead in their other relationship-based ventures.
As Gene Avakyan works towards achieving his ambitious goals, he remains grateful for the opportunities life has provided him, acknowledging the sacrifices his parents made to offer him a better life outside the oppressive regime of the USSR.