As of today, Skyward’s map provides the best drone airspace and ground intelligence on the market. The drone pilots who rely on Skyward now have access to more preflight situational awareness than they’ve ever had before. Our redesigned drone airspace map combines a clear design, airspace data, and LAANC access with essential ground intelligence including 3D views of key structures, transmission lines, and more than a million vertical obstacles.
We rolled out the new airspace on our InFlight mobile ground control station a few months ago to get feedback from our enterprise customers. And now, the new airspace is available to all Skyward users on our web app.
Here’s a quick video that shows our new airspace in action:
This is the culmination of many months of work by our excellent team of product designers and engineers. We set out to solve a few challenges for drone pilots:
- In addition to understanding airspace, it’s also essential for pilots to know the situation on the ground. Think power lines, pedestrian paths, and tall buildings.
- LAANC altitude limits and grids can really clutter a map. We redesigned LAANC labels so you no longer need the aid of a magnifying glass.
- We wanted to provide a second-to-none user experience for our pilots, with an easy, elegant way to see the data, that’s better than anything else on the market.
Let’s dive in!
1. Skyward’s Airspace Intelligence provides the most comprehensive situational awareness of any drone operations management platform
What hasn’t changed: We still show all the airspace you’re used to:
- Classes of airspace that impact commercial drone operations
- National Security UAS Flight Restrictions
- Special Use Airspace
- Special Flight Rules Areas
- Temporary Flight Restrictions
- Facility maps for LAANC
What’s new: We partnered with MapBox to provide datasets that no other drone airspace map has:
- 3D ground obstacles — FAA-sourced data on obstacles that pose a potential threat to aviation
- Major power transmission lines — a very real hazard for drones, especially in the context of longer range flights
- U.S. and Canada national parks
- Pedestrian walking paths
Here at Skyward HQ, located in downtown Portland, we’ve discovered that the ability to see pedestrian paths, schools, and hospitals has been especially helpful. Areas that may seem to be free and clear of obstacles may be full of lunchtime power walkers or emergency vehicles. We also give our pilots the ability to simplify their map view by turning these layers off .
Accessibility is another cool aspect of our redesigned map. As many as 8 percent of American males have some type of colorblindness, so we designed our airspace map with their usability in mind.
2. It’s easier than ever before to understand where you can get LAANC access
Our new drone airspace map makes it easier than ever to see an overall section of controlled airspace and understand whether LAANC is available, at what altitudes, and if any zones are temporarily disabled.
We also combined adjacent LAANC grids with the same altitude. This not only means there’s less information to decipher, it also lowers the possibility of ATC rejecting a LAANC request due to inaccurate information.
3. The innovative design, including user experience and color choice, is intuitive and easy to understand
My favorite part of the new map is how it displays information based on zoom level. Let’s take a look at San Antonio, Texas.
We can see the entire urban area, including airports, heliports, and LAANC. Below, you can see the three different display options: terrain, dark, and satellite.
We’ll stick with the satellite view as we zoom closer. A medium zoom shows details of controlled airspace, including LAANC altitudes and disabled zones.
Zoom close to see obstacles such as pedestrian paths, tall buildings, and power lines.
Zoom even closer to see if you can take off or land in a certain spot, if there’s parking, and if there might be a better area to operate from.
Thanks to an innovative design, pilots can easily see where they are allowed to fly, temporary flight restrictions, and LAANC access. But showing the airspace is only part of the story: Pilots in the field need to know how the surrounding area, including infrastructure, could affect flight. No other solution offers easy-to-understand data such as transmission lines, runways, more than a million vertical obstacles, and 3D views of key structures. This is what sets Skyward airspace apart from our competitors.