top of page
  • Admin

Made in Guam: Bella Wings Aviation’s locally manufactured drones take flight



By Mar-Vic Cagurangan

“I basically thought there was no reason why we couldn’t bring that technology here to Guam,” Charlie Hermosa, president of Bella Wings Aviation, said in December 2020 when he launched the startup company that sells unmanned aerial vehicles, more commonly known as “drones.”


Back then, BWA was just importing drones from off-shore sources. The company has since taken a new route, building its drones, thus pioneering Guam’s tech manufacturing industry.


“The drones will be intended for both local, regional and exports. We are looking at designing a drone specific for our region,” Hermosa said. BWA received the Guam Product Seal after completing the first of STEM-style drones, which have been delivered to public schools. “We have established our facility within our drone lab. It looks like an assembly with each work desk working on a different component of the drone,” said Hermosa, a former U.S. Marine.


BWA officially opened its flight facilities at Tumon Sands Plaza on Aug. 31. BWA has been working to establish a drone development program that includes the light manufacturing of drones to be used for STEM education, first-person-view flying and racing, videography, and customized for the needs of first responders.


The company launched its FAA-regulated commercial drone business on Guam in December 2020, following the enactment of Public Law 35-118, which adds commercial drone services to the roster of industries that qualify for the government’s Qualifying Certificate program.


“We are potentially looking at hiring five people in the short term, but closer to 12 within the next six months,” Hermosa said. “The drone engineers who are working on this first phase have military backgrounds and a few have a passion for designing and putting drones together as a hobby.”


BWA’s ultimate goal is to tap the military market. The Pentagon is wary of Chinese-manufactured drones that have been detected in restricted airspace over Washington, D.C., in recent months, a trend that national security agencies fear could become a new means for foreign espionage. The Pentagon has banned the recreational drones made by Chinese company DJI, which are designed with “geofencing” restrictions to keep them out of sensitive locations.


“I believe we have a very strong local solution that can complement their operations but at the local level. We just need the opportunity to showcase our services and operation,” Hermosa said.


ADVERTISEMENT

BWA is currently working with Guam Community College on developing a technical drone program with the end goal of sourcing electrical, design, pilots and programmers from the college sector.


“We want to establish this echo system—something we would like to replicate throughout the region—in the CNMI, Palau and the FSM,” Hermosa said. “I strongly and truly believe that we have the skilled people to do this work, with a little training and guidance. These will be tech-type jobs comparable to jobs in Texas and California.”


Hermosa said the target for production volume will all depend on how much the company can 3D-print, and the state of the supply chain. “This is real world when you are dealing with microchips and electrical components,” he added. BWA has opened an office in Palau. “But we had to put it on standby until we received the equipment we needed for the operation there,” he said. “We now have the equipment and we look to go down to Palau the first week of December so we can kick off things again. Our primary focus will be education and training the local people—a grassroots approach.”


BWA’s long-term target is to explore business opportunities with large manufacturing firms that are looking at regional partnerships. “That will be huge and part of our mission to create a tech industry in this region,” Hermosa said. “I am confident we will establish a tech industry here on Guam and in the region.”




Subscribe to

our digital

monthly edition

bottom of page