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Frontiers May 2014 Issue

Orian Steen SUPPORTS INSITU CUSTOMERS ASSIGNMENTS INCLUDED IRAQ AND AFGHANISTAN When Orian Steen was a flight engineer in the U.S. Air Force, he could look out the window of his aircraft and get a good sense of his surroundings. Today, as a field service representative for Insitu, he flies a very different kind of aircraft. His only view comes from a camera that’s pointed at the ground. Insitu is a Boeing subsidiary in Bingen, Wash., that produces unmanned aircraft systems (UAS), such as ScanEagle and Integrator. “At Insitu, our role is different from the typical field service representative,” Steen said. “Most reps are out there helping customers support and maintain Boeing aircraft. In our case, we’re flying the aircraft ourselves.” In most contracts, Insitu retains ownership of the unmanned aircraft and sells customers the video taken during surveillance missions. But there are cases where a military customer will buy, and fly, the equipment. In those cases, Steen and his colleagues serve a more traditional field service role. Steen has worked for Insitu for five years and been deployed to Iraq, Afghanistan and a U.S. Navy ship, and had a special assignment in the Netherlands. In the Netherlands, Steen spent two months supporting the use of ScanEagle by the Dutch Ministry of Defence. 26 Frontiers May 2014 While supporting the U.S. Marines in Afghanistan, Steen had about 50 Insitu field service reps assigned to him. Operating with multiple aircraft from various sites, they flew thousands of hours each month. In some cases, they operated from large air bases with modern amenities. In other cases, they were at isolated locations surrounded by wire fences. Steen said one of his most interesting assignments was working from a U.S. Navy destroyer. After 10 years in the U.S. Air Force, he had never served on a Navy ship before. “I enjoyed it,” he said. “On the ship, it was a different lifestyle, with customs and courtesies that were new to me.” When he’s not deployed, he spends as much time as possible with his wife and children. In his spare time, Steen enjoys riding his motorcycle and flying remote control helicopters. But why would someone who flies sophisticated unmanned aircraft want to fly a toy? The Air Force veteran still enjoys the freedom and spontaneity of old-fashioned flight. “Flying a remote controlled helicopter involves a lot more manual flying than an unmanned aircraft, which is highly automated,” he said. “It’s relaxing just to pick up the controls and fly it around.” n PHOTO: JEREMY PHILLIPS/INSITU


Frontiers May 2014 Issue
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