A small Thunder Bay company is looking to make a big mark in the aerospace industry, thanks to some help from the Northern Ontario Heritage Fund Corporation.

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Aerovate Incorporated president Andrew Kondor. (Supplied)

Aerovate Incorporated designs and manufactures propulsion systems and airframes for unmanned aircraft, or drones. A $60,000 NOHFC grant will help as the company prepares to launch its product this fall, said Andrew Kondor, company president.

The system has both military and non-military applications.

The military application would be for reconnaissance, where a camera would be attached to the drone.

Non-military applications would be similar, but the drone would be used for monitoring high-traffic areas, such as ports and harbours, or tracking certain animals to identify migration routes.

"It's a lot more inexpensive to operate a drone to do such activities over having helicopters overhead or small aircraft," Kondor said.

"What our system does is … allows them to extend their range on the same amount of fuel, and basically … give the aircraft a lot more overall performance, from takeoff to cruise."

There's already interest from the American, the Israeli aerospace program and several Canadian companies, he noted.

The fledgling company is heading to a "big trade show in Washington D.C., where basically the who's who of [the] aerospace industry will be attending," Kondor said. "And we'll be showcasing our product there. From there we'll be … taking orders and so forth."