SEEING IN THE DARK

FLIR owns the night

Infrared leader flies 2 Pilatus PC12NGs to demonstrate 6th sense of their products.



By Brent Bundy
Comm-Helo. Rescue Pilot Officer Eurocopter AS350B3, AgustaWestland AW119
Phoenix Police Dept Air Support Unit


FLIR Systems flight dept's Pilatus PC12NGs fly in formation over Washington's Mt Rainier.

On a warm August night at the western edge of the Valley of the Sun, a resident wakes to the sounds of a vehicle in the alley behind her home. As the 4 masked, armed subjects exit their pickup and begin advancing through her fenced rear yard, the soon-to-be victim of another Phoenix AZ home invasion manages to get a frantic call to 911.

Nearby officers quickly respond and move in on foot as the suspects return to their vehicle to commence their escape. They try to run down 2 patrolmen and now the chase is on. But not by the ground units. While patrol cars safely follow out of sight of the fleeing felons, Phoenix PD's Eurocopter AS350B3 AStar, Air 5, takes over and calls the pursuit. Air 5 watches as the truck makes its way to another nearby neighborhood and the occupants bail out, running in opposite directions.

CEO Andy Teich displays the progression of FLIR Systems small camera technology with the FLIR ONE iPhone FLIR camera on the far right.

Using the latest aerial mapping system, the airborne officers quickly enclose the individuals in a tight perimeter. Now it's time to sniff them out. As the pilot orbits around the suspects to assist in the containment, the TFO (tactical flight officer) uses the onboard FLIR thermal imaging system to locate each of the subjects.

The SWAT team is directed to the exact hiding location of the suspects with pinpoint accuracy by the FLIR. Darkness is of no advantage for the criminal element tonight. Another successful ending to a dangerous situation, all made possible by the newest offering by FLIR Systems.

Chances are, if you've flown a law enforcement or military mission in the last 30 years, you've got a similar story to tell. With humble beginnings in home energy audits and surveys in the 1970s working in conjunction with the Department of Energy, thermal imaging technology was in its infancy.

Then in 1978 FLIR Systems was formed. Over the next 3 decades, using multiple in-house advancements, they took FLIR (forward looking infrared) from near novelty status to an almost required piece of equipment in a variety of fields. From their 1st law enforcement deliveries in the early 1980s and their adaptation by the armed forces in the 1990s and continuing with their current rapidly expanding areas of security and maritime applications, the term "FLIR" has become synonymous with the technology and the industry.

CEO Andy Teich captains FLIR Systems products and policies

Headquartered in Wilsonville OR on the outskirts of Portland, FLIR's 155,000 sq ft facility is but one of their many manufacturing, assembly and repair centers located throughout the world. At the helm is newly appointed President and CEO Andy Teich.

FLIR Star SAFIRE 380-HDc mounted under a Pilatus PC12. The SAFIRE 380-HDc contains advanced payload configurations with multiple high definition sensors, including a full native high definition infrared camera with zoom optics.

A native of Wayland MA Andy got an early taste of the thermal imaging world. After receiving his BS in marketing with an interdisciplinary studies program from Arizona State University in 1983, he went to work with his brother, Jay, at Inframetrics, a pioneer company in the thermal imaging field.

In 1995 Andy and Jay organized a venture capital-backed leveraged buyout of the company. Then in 1999 they sold Inframetrics to FLIR Systems and Andy joined as senior vice president of marketing. From 2000 to 2006 he was co-president of the Imaging Division, essentially the government contracts section of FLIR Systems. Teich became president of FLIR Commercial Vision Systems in 2006, a position he held until May of 2013 when he took over the reins as CEO of FLIR Systems.

His predecessor, Earl Lewis, stayed on as chairman of the board. From his early time in upper management and continuing through to today, Andy Teich has taken a 4-part approach to running the company: 1. mission statement, 2. strategy, 3. documenting a 12-month critical initiative, and 4. creating a culture of product execution. He says that while there is always a learning curve to new management style, there has been whole-hearted acceptance from management on down.

And perhaps one of the key parts of this strategy is the mission statement, which for Andy includes the broad application and advancement of FLIR technology. The more than 2500 employees of FLIR based at over 40 locations across the globe have embraced the vision that Andy Teich has developed for the company and together with the CEO, the management staff and FLIR Systems employees have applied it to the many current and new products on the horizon.

Restructuring at FLIR Systems

Chief Pilot Greg Lund, Director of NPI Manufacturing Keven Kochan, Senior Technical Instructor John Mrogenski, Systems Engineering Manager Stewart Evans.

Part of Andy's vision involved restructuring. Prior to his taking over, the company was divided into 2 major subsections: Government Systems (GS) and Commercial Systems (CS). When Andy took over the CS division in 2006, it accounted for around $55 million in revenue.

With the anticipated decline of military action in the Middle East imminent, FLIR prepared for the future by advancing new products in their CS division. As of last year the CS division was responsible for $1 billion in revenue as compared to the GS division's $500 million in the year before the change was made.

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