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.
We also knew that checklists were about far more than risk mitigation. Our Take Flight Package includes more than 200 pages of standard operating procedures and checklists to ensure efficiency and quality at every stage of a commercial drone operations, from equipment maintenance to pilot training and from customer engagement to emergency landings. Because every company is different, we realized early on that checklists should be customizable. So far, dozens of enterprises have used Take Flight to establish low-risk, high-efficiency drone operations, with checklists customized to their various workflows and corporate requirements.
But we knew we needed to do more.
Take Flight provides a solid foundation for any enterprise-grade drone program, but for day-to-day safety, efficiency, compliance—and all-around practicality—our customers need those checklists embedded throughout the Skyward platform.
And now, as of today, they are!
A few weeks ago, we rolled out customizable checklists for both operation plans and flights within the Skyward cloud app.
Today, checklists are also live in the SkywardIO mobile app for iOS in the App Store. Now, pilots in the field have easy access to on-site checklists, right alongside their operational plans, airspace information, and current weather conditions. This means that safety and compliance are part of every pilot’s workflow, rather than an afterthought.
Customizing Checklists for Your Business
Within the Checklist Editor, Admin users can create, edit, and publish checklists to the Organizations they manage within Skyward. By designating a checklist as “standard,” it will appear automatically for all operations or flights and users will be required to complete them. So, if a checklist needs to be used on every single flight then Admin users would set it as “standard” for flights. Once an Admin clicks “publish,” a checklist becomes visible to and usable by all members of an Organization. Steps can be designated as “required” or “optional.”
Drone regulations and corporate compliance requirements are changing quickly, so Admins can update checklists as often as they need to. Skyward retains past versions of checklists for safekeeping.
Checklists work dynamically across cloud and mobile apps. So, you can pull up a checklist and begin it on your computer at work, leave, and continue where you left off on a mobile device out in the field.
I like to think of customizable checklists as a win-win-win:
- They support consistent flights (and consistently high-quality deliverables)
- They help drone program managers work with corporate compliance teams to develop low-risk workflows
- And they ensure that every flight team operates safely while following company and regulatory rules
Customizable checklists are a natural extension of the standard operating procedures in Take Flight and other general operating manuals. For those of you just beginning to launch a drone program now: I highly recommend downloading a sample of Take Flight to get an idea of the protocols and checklists you’ll need as you begin operating.