Iris Automation Appoints New CEO

Commercial drone safety technology innovator Iris Automation announces its new CEO, Jon Damush, effective immediately. Co-founder Alexander Harmsen has been promoted to chairman of the board where he will guide strategy for the company and provide thought leadership on beyond line of sight (BVLOS) drone operations.

The move reflects the continued growth at Iris Automation and the opportunities in the global commercial drone market space. 

Damush brings 30 years of aviation technology experience and executive leadership, building upon his technical background in engineering, software development and systems integration. Most recently he led new business ventures at Boeing NeXT. Before that he was chief growth officer at Insitu, Inc., a Boeing subsidiary, developing novel aircraft and UAS innovation including detect-and-avoid. He was also a Boeing executive liaison and board observer to SkyGrid, a joint venture between Boeing and SparkCognition. 

“I am honored to be taking over leadership of this incredible company. James and Alex have built an amazing team, developed a critical technology and achieved results where others have failed,” said the newly appointed CEO, Jon Damush. “As we grow into our next phase, I am eager to collaborate with our customers, partners, global regulators and investors to bring these capabilities to everyday use and make flying safer.”

“I am thrilled to have Jon join Iris Automation to accelerate our mission and take us to the next level. From when we started the company six years ago, we have built and validated incredibly difficult autonomous vehicle software, grown to support customers worldwide, and achieved ground-breaking regulatory approvals in the U.S. and internationally,” said Alexander Harmsen, co-founder and chairman of the board at Iris Automation. “Now, we are seeing our systems used to enable safe flights across the entire UAS ecosystem, validating our vision. I look forward to working together with Jon on this next chapter, capitalizing on the momentum to take Iris to the ranks of the world’s largest and most trusted aerospace companies.”

Prior to Insitu, Damush was the CEO of 2d3 Sensing, and led the successful turnaround and growth of the company from a niche entertainment software provider to a leading provider of computer vision-based image processing software for aerial surveillance, culminating in a successful acquisition. Damush is an FAA certified commercial pilot with multi-engine and instrument ratings and a certified flight instructor.

“We could not have envisioned a better fit in a leader for Iris Automation,” said James Howard, co-founder and VP of engineering. “Iris AutomationJon has the technical knowledge, and strategic capacity to bring innovation like ours to market at scale. I look forward to partnering with him as we continue to improve airspace safety, unlock BVLOS for customers today, and take on exciting new opportunities in the future.”