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.
For now, here are the details on the just-released features: further coordination for altitude authorizations in LAANC and automatic syncing and flight visualizations for DroneDeploy users.
New LAANC Feature – Further Coordination
A few months ago, Skyward became the first airspace provider approved by the FAA to offer automated access to controlled airspace via the new LAANC program. LAANC is still in the prototype phase, with 49 live facilities, but more will continue to be added in 2018. So far, our customers (including those with free pilot accounts) have been able to request and obtain automated access to fly in controlled airspace in just seconds.
While automated access at FAA-approved altitudes has been working really well, we know you often need to fly higher than the published limits, especially in areas with an altitude limit of zero. You can now use Skyward to request higher altitude limits, up to 400 ft, within active LAANC grids.
Here’s how it works: Plan a flight in LAANC airspace as usual on the Skyward Airspace Map (the Skyward User Guide has detailed instructions). You’ll specify a requested altitude if you need to fly higher than the published limit in a grid. Air traffic control will evaluate your request and aims to reply within 1-30 days. We will update your operation page and send an email with their decision. If the ATC doesn’t approve or deny your request for further coordination by 24 hours prior to your start time, the request for that particular grid will expire.
Although the potential 30-day wait is much longer than the seconds for a standard LAANC authorization, it’s still much faster than the old manual airspace authorization process, which has taken more than 90 days in some cases. Keep in mind that these further coordination approvals are valid only for the hours you specify.
Pilots granted approval to fly in LAANC airspace must still abide by all Part 107 rules, so if you need to fly at night or beyond line of sight, you must apply for a waiver using the old process.
This one-minute video shows how it works.
Automatically Sync DroneDeploy Flight Logs + Flight Visualizations
If you use both DroneDeploy and Skyward, this feature is going to save you a lot of time—no more adding the same data in two places!
First, if you haven’t already, install the free SkywardSync app from the DroneDeploy app market. Then, you’ll be able to sync any log in DroneDeploy over to Skyward with just a click of a button. If you have a corresponding operation in Skyward, you can select it in order to sync the DroneDeploy log information there.
Here’s my favorite part: If there isn’t a corresponding operation in Skyward, one will automatically be created. Skyward will also automatically create records for aircraft, battery, and pilot (ie, DroneDeploy account holder) if you haven’t set one up already.
But that’s not all. Skyward will pull in all of the following information from DroneDeploy:
- Aircraft + firmware information
- Battery + serial number + firmware + battery voltage & cycle information
- Flight path + altitude information
Note: If you have already added a battery, drone, or pilot to Skyward, your existing records will be updated every time you sync a relevant DroneDeploy log. To ensure the information syncs correctly:
- the battery’s serial number must be the same in both Skyward and DroneDeploy
- the aircraft nickname or the serial number must be the same in both locations
- the pilot’s name must be the same in both locations
So, if you haven’t included serial numbers in existing Skyward records, now is a great time to add them.
Skyward will also pull in the drone’s flight path, including altitude. You’ll be able to see an animated view of the flight path and how it tracks to battery voltage.
That means managers can review their pilots’ work to ensure that everyone is flying safely and complying with the rules. And if the FAA requests your flight info, you’ll have a complete visualization logged in Skyward.
This short video shows how it works, and I also encourage you to take a look at the Skyward User Guide for detailed instructions on using this time-saving new feature.
As we close out the year, I want to thank you for being part of Skyward. Your feedback, support, and requests inspire us every day and we couldn’t do this without you.