Last week, we made a few key upgrades to Skyward, including a high-value new feature and updated interface, in addition to the usual performance enhancements and bug fixes.
Here’s what’s new: Continue reading →
Monday, April 30 is an exciting day for the drone industry in the U.S. That’s when the FAA begins the first wave of the nationwide rollout of its LAANC (Low Altitude Airspace Notification Capability). With LAANC, Part 107 drone pilots can use Skyward to obtain permission to fly in controlled airspace in seconds, rather than the months it has taken to receive manual authorizations.
I’m confident that the expansion of LAANC to the South Central U.S. will further fuel the growth of drone use in public and private industries throughout the region, especially in big cities such as St. Louis, Houston, Dallas-Ft. Worth, San Antonio, and Austin. Continue reading →
Drone operators in Miami have been getting near-instant approvals for drone flights in controlled airspace since last fall, thanks to the FAA’s LAANC program. More UAS facilities are coming to Florida and the rest of the Southeast on July 19 (download the rollout schedule here).
With the FAA’s LAANC (Low Altitude Airspace Notification Capability), requests for authorization to fly UAVs in controlled airspace can now be handled in seconds instead of taking weeks or months through the FAA waiver system.
The expansion of this program to new regions in the Southwest is expected to further fuel the growth of drone use in public and private industries in Arizona. Accessing LAANC airspace via Skyward is quick and easy, and it’s enabling companies in Phoenix to get into the air fast. Here are the five main things to know about the rollout of real-time access to PHX controlled airspace, and examples of commercial use of UAS in the region. Continue reading →
You’ve run a successful drone pilot program and your enterprise sees potential for speeding up projects, improving safety, or getting better data at less cost. You’ve gotten the go-ahead to build capacity.
What should you know about scaling drone operations from one or two pilots to potentially dozens of pilots and hundreds of flights?
As Skyward’s customer success manager, I’ve helped dozens of companies scale up their drone operations over the last couple of years, and I’m happy to share what I’ve learned. Continue reading →
In my discussions with big companies about their drone operations, a few things always come up: faster turnaround time, far lower aircraft expenses, and reductions in manpower costs. These are the most obvious examples of the value UAS brings to businesses, for example:
Skyward first began providing fast, automated access to controlled airspace through the FAA’s LAANC initiative last fall. For the prototype phase of the program, the FAA made LAANC available in just over 40 locations, including Reno, Miami, Phoenix, San Jose, Anchorage, Lincoln, Cincinnati, and several dozen airports covered by the Minneapolis Air Route Traffic Control Center. Continue reading →
What could possibly go wrong? Because we’re in the aviation industry, UAS pros spend a lot of time understanding this question—and operating in ways that prevent high-profile errors.
In working with big companies to implement drone programs, I’ve seen that skepticism about ROI is often not the biggest objection drone proponents face when exploring a new program for their companies. It’s the legal, risk, and operational questions that raise the strongest concerns, for good reason: Airspace is one of the most regulated spaces accessible to humans.
If you’re just beginning to launch or scale a drone operation at your company, here’s a list of potential pitfalls to avoid, along with a standardized process for getting your program off the ground. Continue reading →
An engineering firm used drones for transmission line construction planning, wildlife inventories and environmental compliance, reducing impacts on protected species in sensitive habitat—and the number of field workers needed for the project. Continue reading →
2017 is coming to a close, and it’s been a huge year at Skyward. We were acquired by Verizon, we expanded our team, and we collaborated with the FAA on the new Low Altitude Airspace Notification Capability (LAANC). But we’re not kicking back just yet. Our engineers have been hard at work to deliver two big new features before the holidays, and they’re now live in Skyward. Expect to see lots of new features and functionality in 2018—and maybe even a new mobile app. Continue reading →
Last winter, I tossed my household’s collection of worn-out holiday lights and forgot about them — until last weekend when I went to hang them up for this season. I found myself facing that age-old question: how many strands of Christmas lights to buy.
It turns out that this is a great task for a drone.
In February 2016, a local news station in Birmingham, Ala., WBRC FOX6 News, debuted a new way of reporting the news: the “WBRC Sky Tracker.” The station first integrated the Sky Tracker—really a Yuneec Typhoon H drone—into weather and traffic reports, advertising, and news-gathering. A year and a half later, the station continues to fly just about every weekday, finding more and more use cases for their drone program as they go.
WBRC’s parent company, Raycom Media, Inc., is an employee-owned broadcast company with more than 50 television stations throughout the southern, eastern, and midwestern United States. Headquartered in Montgomery, Ala., Raycom provides services for stations covering more than 16% of U.S. television households. With such a broad audience, aerial coverage is a must, and with drones increasing in popularity in the media, Raycom wanted to be at the forefront of media innovation. Continue reading →
On Friday, Skyward’s hardworking team of engineers was proud to release LAANC airspace access to our cloud solution. Now, all Skyward users, including our free Pilot Accounts, can get FAA authorization to fly in controlled airspace in near real time.
A quick recap: The FAA’s Low Altitude Airspace Notification Capability (LAANC) allows approved partners such as Skyward to give safe, fast access to certain volumes of controlled airspace. For now, the program is in beta at 45 airports: Cincinnati International Airport (CVG), Reno (RNO), San Jose (SJC), Lincoln (LNK), 37 airports in the Minneapolis Air Route Traffic Control Center, and just this morning, the FAA released Phoenix as well. Continue reading →
Yesterday, the White House and the Department of Transportation announced a new initiative called the Drone Integration Pilot Program.
According to the press release, the program will involve a select number of cities or towns that will work with the private sector to solve some of the longstanding barriers and challenges that we in the drone industry have been facing, such as BVLOS flights and package delivery. Continue reading →
Last week, the FAA approved Skyward to provide our users with automated access to controlled airspace via the new Low Altitude Authorization Notification Capability (LAANC). And today, the FAA officially turned on LAANC in beta, allowing commercial drone pilots to safely and quickly access controlled airspace at Cincinnati International Airport (CVG), Reno (RNO), San Jose (SJC), and Lincoln (LNK). Continue reading →
It’s been an exciting week here at Skyward, and for the U.S. drone community as a whole. The FAA officially rolled out LAANC today, and several of our customers are beta testing access through Skyward this afternoon.
Over the past week, we’ve seen a lot of questions on social media regarding LAANC, and even some misinformation. I thought it would be most efficient to create an FAQ with all the facts. We’ll be updating this as we get updated information from the FAA and as new questions arise from our customers. Continue reading →
It’s an exciting day here at Skyward.
Today, October 17, the FAA approved Skyward to give commercial drone operators fast access to controlled airspace with its new Low Altitude Authorization and Notification Capability (LAANC). The program will roll out starting with Cincinnati International Airport (CVG), Reno (RNO), San Jose (SJC), and Lincoln (LNK), among others. The FAA has said that it will include 49 airports by the end of the year, with more going live by early 2018. Continue reading →
Drones have a lot to offer an enterprise as far as productivity, safety, and results are concerned. But they also introduce new, though small, risks. Before your drone program can get off the ground, corporate lawyers and risk managers are going to want proof that you can keep potential liability within acceptable limits. Continue reading →
As an accounting and finance person, I love numbers, spreadsheets, and financial forecasts—things that leave most people yawning at their desks or running for the hills. But if you’re standing up a drone program at work, you need to know a few things about budgeting and how to work with your finance department.
If you work at a Fortune 500 company or other major enterprise, knowing how much a drone program will cost, and how those costs are accounted for, is essential. Even if you have a realistic number in mind—say $70,000—you’ll need to be able to show your finance department the breakdown of those costs. Most importantly, you’ll need to provide a rationale for your budget request. Continue reading →
Here at Skyward, we’ve been spreading the word about operational checklists pretty much from Day 1. This isn’t a new idea—traditional aviation is so safe partly because pilots rely heavily on standard operating procedures and operational checklists. And because drones are also complex pieces of equipment that share the airspace, it was clear to us that checklists should be adapted to drones. Continue reading →
PBS Engineering and Environmental Inc. provides professional engineering, environmental, industrial hygiene, planning, and surveying services throughout Oregon, Washington, and Idaho. Like any engineering company, safety is one of their top priorities on the job site—especially because their projects often involve accessing hazardous areas. PBS Engineering wants to avoid as many potential liabilities as possible, while still delivering high-quality, professional results.
If you’ve looked into implementing drones as a newsgathering tool, you’ve probably seen some of the innovative ways that drones can support broadcast operations. If you haven’t heard about the great results they can bring, start with these five stories from The New York Times—major journalistic features that used drones to tell spectacular stories in remote, sensitive, or inaccessible areas.
But what sets drones apart as a unique journalistic tool? After all, many aerial shots could be obtained with a helicopter, though with a much higher price tag. What stories can drones tell that are dangerous or impossible for either ground crews or helicopters to capture? Continue reading →
In a survey conducted last April, experts in the field of drone journalism were asked what they saw as the greatest challenges facing the development of their industry today. Not surprisingly, the number one answer was uncertainty about the legal/regulatory framework. Certainly, things have improved with the adoption of Part 107, which opened up a great deal of airspace and removed many barriers to entry faced by those who want to fly drones commercially.
Nevertheless, there are still many pockets of low-altitude controlled airspace all across the country, particularly in large cities. Navigating around those limitations can be time consuming, though with the upcoming release of LAANC, we can expect some improvement. Still, most broadcasters will find it most efficient to apply for longer-lasting airspace authorization in their home cities—this article provides guidance. Continue reading →
Since last August, Part 107 has undoubtedly lowered the barrier to entry for businesses launching commercial drone operations. But it has also created new challenges, especially for companies that were already running fairly sophisticated operations.
Several months ago, Richard Lopez, Virtual Design and Construction Manager at Hensel Phelps Construction Co., told us that the waiver process introduced by Part 107 has added time-consuming hurdles to his workflow. “It’s more difficult to obtain permission to fly in controlled airspace now,” he said. “Previously, if I saw that I had a project in controlled airspace, I’d just call air traffic control and work it out with them. Now, we have to go through the waiver process, which can take months.” Continue reading →