Florida Trend | Florida's Business Authority

Tracking Close Encounters


Researchers at Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University in Daytona Beach have developed a new way to count and analyze close encounters between drones and airplanes. The method will mean more accurate data — and safer operations — at airports, they say. Researchers combined data from a drone-detection device and aircraft telemetry at Dallas-Fort Worth’s busy Terminal C with flight-tracking data to compare flight paths. Previously, this data came directly from pilots who had to identify drones during their flight preparations and, sometimes, mid-flight. The results provide a better understanding of the problem. Researchers explained their findings in a peer-reviewed study published by the Society of Automotive Engineers. In addition, the team recommended extending airport runway exclusion zones for drones at the end of high-risk runways from about 1 mile to 3.5 miles. Most close calls happen within 1.5 miles of a runway approach or departure zone.


“Be sincere and genuine with people, and then they begin to trust you. Be real. Be the same with everyone everywhere. Be authentic... I want to help people do better if I can, and I feel strongly that you must give respect to get respect.”

— Thomas Chatmon, the executive director of Orlando’s Downtown Development Board and Community Development Agency, shared his philosophy on building trust in a 2020 interview with The Community Paper. Chatmon died in July at the age of 68 following a battle with cancer. During his 16-year career with the city, he played a key role in business recruitment and several downtown developments, including Creative Village, Chase Plaza, Amway Center and Dr. Phillips Center for the Performing Arts. He also worked on strategies to help downtown businesses grapple with the impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic.


  • Orlando Health has expanded its partnership with Doctors’ Center Hospital in Puerto Rico, creating a network of five hospitals and a free-standing emergency room on the island. Its most recent expansion, which rebranded the 105-room Sabanera Health hospital to Doctors’ Center Orlando Health - Dorado, joins other similar agreements with facilities in San Juan, Bayamon, Manati and San Fernando de la Carolina. The brand also covers a free-standing emergency room in Arecibo.


  • Daytona State College has been named an education partner for Amazon’s Career Choice program, which offers employees pre-paid college tuition reimbursement to local schools. The school enrolls about 23,000 students per year at seven campuses.


  • Marriott Vacations Worldwide has opened its new global headquarters inside a nine-story, mixed-use project in Orlando’s O-Town West neighborhood. As the anchor tenant, Marriott occupies 350,000 square feet of office space in the $1-billion building. It will serve as home base for the corporation’s 1,500 Orlando-based employees and a hub for its 7,000 statewide and 21,000 global associates.


  • Cape Canaveral’s Sidus Space landed a subcontract to produce hardware in support of a contract won by Parsons Corporation with the U.S. Space Force to build small satellite payload carriers. Sidus will fabricate a master harness assembly and test cables. Parsons is a prime contractor with the U.S. Space Force.


  • The Orlando-based Black Business Investment Fund recently awarded a total of $50,000 in grant funding to three Florida startups through its annual Reverse the Red pitch competition. The winners included two Orlando-based businesses: Charles Simmons’ Legacy Café, which operates a casual restaurant in Orlando’s West Lakes neighborhood, and Milery Honore’s fitness company Big Dawg Training Camp, which received $15,000 and $10,000, respectively. Stan Leconte’s MoneyLit, a Fort Lauderdale company that’s developing a financial literacy and budgeting app for teenagers and young adults, took home $25,000. The finalists will also receive ongoing business advisory services from the BBIF.