Fleet-Management

Looking for a Verizon Skyward Replacement?

We get it. Break ups are hard.

With Verizon’s Skyward shuttering their doors in short order, we’ve heard from a number of people in the commercial drone industry that they are looking for a drone fleet management solution post-haste.

The Aloft Air Control platform is a secure drop-in replacement for the Skyward drone apps and Skyward web platform. We work with teams from 2-2000 and have all the enterprise features you’ve come to expect from a mature web application.

Key Features for Migrating Away from Skyward

  • We can quickly import your existing Skyward data into your Aloft Air Control account so you don’t miss a beat of compliance, and can save yourself hours of work.
  • Our software is trusted across the drone ecosystem to help busy professionals manage groups of people flying fleets of drones across their organization.
  • Our team is ready and waiting to help you easily transition off the Skyward platform and continue your important work using Air Control.

Schedule a Demo of Aloft Air Control Today

Aloft Air Control Features:

LAANC Autorizations

LAANC Authorizations are easy and fast on both iOS, Android and web! See why Aloft processes 70% of all LAANC.

Flight Logging

Flight logging is easy from mobile or desktop.

Customizable Checklists, Risk Assessments, and Workflows

Checklists, Risk Assessments, and Workflows are all customizable for your SOP.

Enterprise Security

Full enterprise feature set including SSO/SAML, SOC 2 Type 2, and ISO 27001.

live-streaming

Secure Live Streaming

Secure live streaming from supported platforms.

Account/User Management

Full user permissions, roles, 107 Certification tracking and currency/recency reporting.

Reporting

Reporting made for busy drone program managers who need signal, not noise.

flight-logging

Tagging, Easy Searching and Sorting

Segment your organization the way you like with tagging, account separation, and easy searching and sorting.


Connecting Local Drone Rules to National Air Traffic Management

Today we’re announcing the launch of the Aloft Geo Portal: a free tool to publish airspace and ground rule advisories to the Aloft data network including B4UFLY. It’s a major step forward in filling a gap in the integration of drones: the lack of authoritative sources for local drone ground rules.

Most often local communities either rely on simple posted signs or hard to find website information to try to reach drone pilots. In particular the US’s 6,600 state parks suffer from this problem. As do major sports stadiums, local airports, utilities and hospitals. And it’s a global challenge.

Verified users of the Aloft Geo Portal will be able to upload and manage airspace and ground space advisories that once authenticated, will publish to our UTM platform. We’re starting in the US and will expand the program globally.

The portal is live now and accepting submissions at https://geo.aloft.ai. It’s free to upload, manage and update advisories.

You can read more about it in our press release.

If you need support or have questions, email us at geo@aloft.ai.


Announcing Early Access to Aloft Geo

Manage Your Air & Ground Space Drone Advisories

Every day across the US, there are thousands of drone flights where the aircraft is in perfect harmony with FAA regulations while the pilot on the ground unknowingly is not in compliance with rules on the ground. I know firsthand, having been approached by park rangers in San Francisco. While flying in Class G (uncontrolled) airspace in a wide-open park — a very natural and safe place to fly — a park ranger, body cam and all, kindly let me know that flying drones in parks is against San Francisco regulations. He then quickly added, “don’t worry about it, no one knows about these rules.”

It wasn’t just my own personal experiences, but all the support requests — from drone pilots and law enforcement alike — reaching out to Aloft to get help with this all too common problem of lacking canonical, accessible data to understand all the rules (air and ground) that pertain to a drone flight. Constantly different localities are trying to get the word out of where to fly or not fly, such as this recent story from the Columbus Dispatch.

It’s time to replace “no drone” signs and buried regulations, with useful, widely accessible, and visible data that will benefit drone pilots and government officials.

The next step that we took at Aloft to help solve this problem was launching our data crowdsourcing initiative in late 2020 .
Since then we have received tens of thousands of submissions, along with countless emails from various parks and agencies that want their data to be visible.
While we’ve started to address this in a fairly manual nature of adding in data, like what we did with San Francisco parks, we’re taking the next step to allow you to manage your own advisories that will be published across the Aloft UTM data network, including B4UFLY, where we power over a million airspace searches per month.

Announcing Aloft Geo

If you’re a government official or a state/local agency that wants to get your advisories in front of the largest network of drone pilots and airspace stakeholders, sign up now for early access to Aloft Geo. It will be free to manage and publish your information. Enter your name and email address to receive early access to Aloft Geo to start contributing your air & ground space advisories.

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The remotely-piloted nature of drones is precisely what makes them so revolutionary, so transformative, and so safe. But it also causes havoc when it comes to compliance. Not only does one need to comply with Federal airspace regulations, but you also need to adhere to the rules on the ground that apply to your feet and thumbs. We’re going to solve this for the benefit of all of our users, partners, and the future of the industry. If you think this is an issue with small drones and recreational pilots, just wait for drone delivery and air taxis.


New Checklist, Compliance & Risk Assessment Features for B4UFLY

Today we’re excited to announce a two-year extension of our public/private partnership with the FAA, and commemorate this with the launch of new safety features in B4UFLY. We’ve taken Aloft’s experience in developing checklists and risk assessment tools for enterprise users like Shell and CNN and combined FAA resources and expertise to bring three new preflight tools to B4UFLY, including:

1. An educational and compliance-focused checklist to help users get started. The evergreen checklist reminds pilots to register at the FAA Drone Zone, label their drone, and get their TRUST certificate.

2. A pre-flight risk assessment to help drone pilots determine their state of readiness for a safe flight.

3. A pre-flight checklist with tried and tested steps that pilots should take before every flight.

Since the launch of the new B4UFLY almost three years ago, we’ve powered over 18 million airspace safety searches for the largest network of drone operators. Along the way, the feedback and input we’ve received from pilots has been invaluable in informing the development of new features that will continue to increase the safety of the national airspace. Looking ahead to the rest of 2022, we have many exciting updates planned, including iterations to our data crowdsourcing initiative, new features for Notify & Fly, and much more.
If you have any questions or ideas, we’d love to hear from you – b4ufly@aloft.ai!

Click below to download the B4UFLY app on iOS or Android today!

Download B4UFLY in the App StoreDownload B4UFLY on Google Play

Be sure to also check out our new webinar and podcast series called “B4UFLY: Check the Map”. Join our host, Aloft’s very own Erica Cooley, as she explores common questions and pressing issues in the drone industry. Watch/listen to recent episodes of the podcast and webinar series below.


Taking Uncrewed Flight Beyond Visual Line of Sight

Last June the FAA convened an Aviation Rulemaking Committee (“ARC”) where it invited 87 various industry participants to deliver a set of recommendations to enable BVLOS (Beyond Visual Line of Sight) operations, and I was honored to represent Aloft (along with the largest network of drone pilots) in shaping the ARC recommendations. Nine months later (three months longer than initially scoped; more on process below) we now have a final set of recommendations that the entire aviation industry should be excited about. Within the 569 pages, there are plenty of sections that will cause legacy aviation constituents to reach for a warm glass of milk. There are also countless areas that require future rulemaking that the ARC simply didn’t address or couldn’t reach consensus. Suffice to say, the ARC report was a compromise, but one that puts drones on a very clear path for new flight rules – largely accomplished by defining and reassessing how we think about risk.

ARC Background

The scope of the ARC was fairly constrained, in a good way. The dream of air taxis was not part of the discussions, and the area of flight was limited to uncontrolled airspace – which, importantly, includes auto-approval LAANC ceilings in controlled airspace. The use-cases that we focused on were inspection, agriculture, and small package delivery.

As we got started, the ARC members and working groups focused on the industry needs, societal benefits, and the limitations of current regulations. The second phase dug more into the details to result in performance based recommendations that reflected the majority of ARC members views.

Along the way, there was great dialogue despite key contentious issues, such as defining an acceptable level of risk or how to rethink right of way rules. While you will see a number of “non-concur” ballots from legacy aviation groups, I don’t fault them for they have a responsibility to their members. As such, however, the recommendations that the ARC produced reflect that compromise. To that end, the ARC was extended by over 3-months to accommodate more dialog, plenary meetings, and transparency across the process.

Where the ARC Succeeded

Changing how we think about and define the risk of drone flight was one of the biggest wins coming out of the ARC. Ground risk is fully mitigated so long as the drone flight is not hovering over crowds. Air risk is fully mitigated if the drone is shielded, such as within 100ft of a structure. The ARC also recommends a quantitative acceptable level of risk that is aligned with general aviation fatality rates. Together these are powerful as the true risk (exposure by probability) of drone flight is addressed, while at the same time we put drones with the rest of aviation recognizing that this is not a zero risk activity.

The ARC’s right of way recommendations was another critical step forward. Whereas today drones assume 100% of the collision avoidance responsibility, the ARC has put forward some common sense and equitable recommendations for all aircraft from legacy aircraft to drones to share the airspace. By accurately assessing the risk of collision where drone flights occur, combined with the fact that very few (think thousands for the entire country) legacy aircraft fly, the ARC recommends that in some instances the UA will have the right of way.

Where the ARC Missed

While the ARC recommendations were successful in creating a performance-based structure by which BVLOS drone flights can operate by rule (rather than by waiver), the ARC failed to tackle the harder questions about drone airspace integration into the broader NAS (“National Airspace System”). Similar to LAANC or Remote ID, the ARC’s BVLOS recommendations are about compliance versus integration. With these recommendations, drone flight is still outside of ATC; there is no system for drones to communicate with other drones; and there is no system for drones to communicate with legacy aircraft.

UTM (UAS/Universal Traffic Management) and related topics like Network Remote ID did frequently come up in ARC deliberations, as is evidenced by the fact that “UTM” shows up on 89 pages of the report. While UTM is recognized as critical for the industry to operate at scale, the ARC was unable to develop consensus recommendations, only going so far as to suggest the FAA explore these technologies. Given the critical role of UTM as described in the ARC report, by NASA, and even the FAA Administrator, this void will be filled by industry based on market demand, which may be a good thing at the end of the day.

In the report, there are plenty of recommendations that talk about coordination with airport managers or notification of flight. These would have been perfect opportunities to find ways to remove people from the loop and replace manual, analog recommendations with digital, scalable recommendations that can stand the test of time.

What’s Next for BVLOS

Now that the ARC report is published and officially sent to the FAA, it’s now up to the FAA to publish a Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (NPRM) where it takes the ARC report recommendations and puts them into a proposed set of regulations that will be open for public comment. That comment period should provide a lot of fireworks as there will be plenty of folks, especially from legacy aviation camps (as evidenced by their ARC ballots), that will chime in on how they think the final rule should be written.

From there the industry is looking at likely a few years before a final rule is published and put into place. With that said, there are plenty of areas in the ARC report that should give the FAA momentum to make some interim changes and open up BVLOS flight that pose zero air and ground risk but still require a waiver. Even just speeding up the waiver approval process while the final rule is adjudicated would be impactful.

Beyond this ARC report and new BVLOS regulations, what this industry – and frankly all of transportation – needs is someone who can look holistically at the impact of drones. The FAA is concerned only with the airspace impact of drones, and lacks the jurisdiction to look at the broader transportation impact. More drones mean fewer cars on the road – meaning less pollution, less traffic, and fewer auto-related deaths. More drones also mean more equitable access to goods, medicine, and related care for all societies.

Is the DOT willing to take on this broader initiative in looking at how remotely piloted vehicles can transform our societies and economies?

Is Congress able to do this? What about the current or future Administrations?

In the balance are a set of benefits that everyone could gain from if there is a willingness to boldly seize the opportunities that are within our grasp right now.

Listen to a podcast discussion with Jon Hegranes, Aloft CEO on why BVLOS operations are essential for the evolution of innovation for drone technology, Hegranes’ experience as a member of the BVLOS ARC, where the BVLOS ARC Report succeeded and fell short, and what’s next for BVLOS below.


Aloft Powers 70% of LAANC Authorization Requests

Record 147% Year-Over-Year Growth

Today we’re excited to announce that in September 2021 the Aloft UTM powered 70% of the monthly LAANC authorization requests, making Aloft the largest LAANC UAS Service Supplier for both recreational and commercial operators. By leveraging our patented programmatic Dynamic Airspace platform, we were able to seamlessly and securely scale our operations to meet increased customer demand from commercial, recreational, law enforcement, and government users.

According to the FAA monthly report, there were less than 40,000 LAANC requests in September, over a 10% decrease month-over-month. Aloft powered over 25,000 authorization requests in the month, for a 14% month-over-month increase, with 92% of the increase coming from Part 107 operators. LAANC at night has been another driving force for more activity from commercial operators. Since launching v5 of LAANC in August, we’ve seen roughly 10% of all Part 107 LAANC authorizations utilizing nighttime operations.

Aloft Powered 70% of the monthly LAANC authorization requests in September 2021

In addition, on September 7th we introduced Notify & Fly for B4UFLY and by the end of the month, users generated more than 3,600 anonymous airspace notifications. We’re encouraged by this initial adoption and will continue to evolve the experience based on user feedback to enable more data sharing and flight activity across Aloft’s UTM.

More broadly for B4UFLY across iOS, Android and web, users made 2.4M searches in Q3 2021, up 55% year-over-year. We’ll continue to look for ways to scale adoption of B4UFLY as the ultimate call to action for drone pilots and airspace stakeholders to come together for maximum airspace safety and situational awareness.


Kittyhawk.io Is Now Known As Aloft

JUNE 2, 2021 SAN FRANCISCO, CA- Kittyhawk, the market leader in drone airspace systems & UTM technologies has been renamed to Aloft Technologies, Inc. Aloft represents the core company mission of powering and enabling safe and compliant drone flights through a powerful combination of enterprise UTM applications, security and compliance solutions and AI.

Today, Aloft is the largest UTM network of airspace users and stakeholders, and powers more than 50% of all LAANC airspace authorizations. While the company was founded in 2015, 2018 marked a significant new expansion by building our now patented Dynamic Airspace platform, with patented XID system for remote identification technologies. These early UTM capabilities are enabling the full spectrum of drone users to take flight today, while setting the stage for the second century of aviation that spans drone delivery, air taxis, and beyond.

Aloft’s enterprise platform Air Control which launched in Q4 2020 is now the primary customer platform driving higher frequencies of flights and higher rates of compliance along with added security and compliance features. In the last 60 days, Aloft enterprise customers flew 20K flights in industries like oil & gas, insurance, utilities and public safety. In addition, Aloft continues to power the new B4UFLY app which recently surpassed 10M airspace safety searches since the re-launch in July 2019.

“We’re excited to continue on our mission of enabling flight at scale. While we’ll always be connected to the past of aviation, we’re more excited about creating its future. That’s the vision of Aloft.” said Aloft Founder and CEO Jon Hegranes.

Learn more at https://www.aloft.ai and connect with us @aloftai on social media.

 

About Aloft

Formerly known as Kittyhawk, Aloft is the market leader in drone airspace systems & UTM technologies. Our solutions make it easy to fly safely and operate compliantly at scale. Our dynamic airspace platform connects the largest drone network — spanning recreational users, enterprise customers, regulators, and UTM partners across the globe.

Read more in the blog here.


b4ufly

What New Airspace Users Want to Know: By the Numbers

We focus so much on what new pilots and operators should do, that we sometimes fail to hear what they want to do and why. As a UAS Service Supplier, and FAA Partner in B4UFLY, we have a rich dataset to draw from and we’re able to see first-hand what new users are looking to learn.

July and August were the two most active months of all time on the Kittyhawk platform. We’ve added a record number of users through the launches of Recreational LAANC and B4UFLY. Though these new services aren’t part of our enterprise offering, they’re an opportunity for Kittyhawk to use our scale and reach to lead on safety with action and innovation.

We’re able to customize our airspace product for different use cases and scale because of our patented Dynamic Airspace platform. Below are some stats and details on how recreational drone operators are utilizing these new products.

B4UFLY

  • Since the relaunch at the end of July to September 15, the new B4UFLY app performed over 700,000 airspace status checks. A slight majority of users were iOS over Android. Reviews have gone from 1-stars to 4-stars.
  • With nearly a million airspace searches, it answers the question, will drone pilots do a safety check before they fly? The answer is a resounding yes when you make it easy, reliable and maybe even enjoyable to know if you're clear to fly.
  • We’ve also heard from non-drone pilots that the new intuitive app design is helping them to understand if it’s ok for drones to be flying around them. With our commitment to Remote ID, we’ll be adding in more functionality to B4UFLY to help both the operator and viewer audiences of the application.
  • We’re also making advances to modernize and augment airspace data sources to be able to provide more detail and situational awareness. These improvements will be felt by B4UFLY users, and will also benefit all stakeholders of the National Airspace System (NAS).

ratings

It’s important to note that B4UFLY doesn’t collect personal information or require users to register or login to use the app. By definition, this means that features like LAANC cannot be built directly into B4UFLY (as so many of you have inquired), but we are continually listening to your feedback and thinking about how best to evolve the user experience for B4UFLY.

We’re also focused on how we can help further understanding of how airspace regulations interact with local land-based rules. The FAA regulates the airspace, and those are the rulesets we focus on in B4UFLY. Other local rules may apply to landing, takeoff, and where the operator is standing during flight. This means there isn’t one simple compliance answer for an entire drone operation, but we’re working to highlight these distinctions for safer flight.

Recreational LAANC

  • Since the launch of Recreational LAANC in late July, we’ve powered over 6,000 recreational airspace authorizations.
  • With the help of DJI, we’ve seen a large number of recreational users learn about new authorization requirements and move quickly to embrace the power of LAANC for immediate airspace authorizations.

The rules of engagement for the NAS below 400 feet are static and we live in a much more complex and dynamic world. Hobbyist and commercial operators, public safety officials, concerned citizens… there’s a lot going on and not everyone has the same priorities.

It’s our belief that the airspace flying experience for users of all kinds, needs to be more responsive and inclusive of changing conditions. We can’t use the same ATC model for drones. We’ll continue to invest in our Dynamic Airspace platform because we’ve seen customers and users all express a simple concept: my airspace is not your airspace but we need ways to communicate when they may intersect.


B4UFLY

Kittyhawk and FAA Launch New B4UFLY App

Today we’re releasing a brand new B4UFLY app in partnership with the FAA. This initial version of the new app is focused on the one thing every drone operator needs to do before every flight: check the airspace you want to fly in to know whether it’s safe to fly. Making this simple, fast and intuitive was our big goal as part of an ongoing mission to make drone flight of all kinds safe and reliable.

Here’s how FAA Executive Director Jay Merkle put it in the press release:

“B4UFLY is a hallmark of our commitment to ensuring drones are safely integrated into the NAS. Our partnership on B4UFLY with Kittyhawk represents the kind of public-private partnership that is essential to advance this burgeoning industry. As the skies become more crowded and UAS operations become more complex, basic airspace situational awareness, especially for the newest of fliers, will be essential,” said Jay Merkle, Executive Director, FAA UAS Integration Office.

B4UFLY is now powered by Kittyhawk Dynamic Airspace which is our patented airspace controller for managing real-time flight restrictions, authorizations, and guidance. It’s the core technology in all our products that enables us to build tools that are responsive in real-time to the real-world changes and complexity that is our National Airspace System (NAS).

It’s our belief that any solution, whether it’s for advanced operations, UTM, urban air mobility or Remote ID, requires programmatic data exchange with redundancies for safety, accuracy and security built in. The airspace we all share is too complex, too active and too variable to be reliant on out of date, proprietary or single-source data systems. All airspace must be dynamic for both manned and uncrewed aviation to continue to grow, integrate and maintain safety at all altitudes and for all aircraft types.

So in future updates to the B4UFLY app, we want to include additional functionality for weather, Remote ID and additional data layers for uses in public safety, natural disasters and emergency response.

Growing and Going New Places

We recently hit a milestone of 1 million flights and crossed 100,000 users at Kittyhawk. Whether you’re simply flying for fun or out inspecting power lines for work, Kittyhawk continues to scale with the drone industry and community at large. Our recent launch of recreational LAANC has brought many new drone pilots onto our platform. Welcome! Our enterprise customers use solutions like live streaming in emergency response situations. Stay safe!

This broad range of use cases along with B4UFLY gives us a unique position to build first-class software that brings more control to operators, program managers and fliers alike. Drones are amazing tools with immense capabilities in the hands of people empowered by software that takes risk out of the equation and makes flying safe, enjoyable and productive. We have a lot more in the pipeline for the second half of the year so stay tuned.

In the meantime, go use B4UFLY!


recreational-laanc-dji

LAANC 2.0: Recreational Edition

Today we’re introducing LAANC functionality for recreational pilots, available on Android and iOS. It leverages Kittyhawk’s patented Dynamic Airspace platform and our recently launched LAANC 2.0 flow that makes it easier than ever to get a real-time authorization to fly in controlled airspace. It’s free for Kittyhawk users. LAANC a little or a lot, there’s no cost to fly and comply.

The airspace is becoming more integrated and that includes the rules by which drone pilots fly in controlled airspace. The launch of LAANC for hobbyist users is a major step forward for the FAA to bring a common set of operating rules and access to the National Airspace System (NAS).

We recognize the importance of all participants in the NAS to fly with an awareness of rules, regulations, and other aircraft, and we’re excited to bring this very important piece of airspace technology to the thousands of recreational pilots.

djiDJI, the world’s largest maker of personal and professional drones, recommends that its recreational customers use the Kittyhawk app for LAANC authorizations. “Opening the LAANC system to recreational drone pilots is an important step in the FAA’s efforts to safely integrate drones into American skies by providing innovative solutions to regulatory requirements,” said Brendan Schulman, DJI Vice President of Policy & Legal Affairs. “Kittyhawk is the app I personally use when I want to check the airspace. DJI is glad to be able to recommend Kittyhawk’s easy-to-use tools to fly in compliance with the new requirements for recreational flights in controlled airspace.”

While a relatively new program, more LAANC improvements and updates are in the works. We’re exploring new ways to make grids smaller and more dynamic, ultimately opening up more airspace in which to fly. We’re working on ways to make map data more precise and applicable for drone flights, which was not the original consideration when sectional maps were conceived. Ultimately we’re looking to bring more education and understanding to what it means to fly aircraft in the NAS, and we’re excited that all drone pilots now have the tools to operate in controlled airspace.

Last but not least, keep an eye out for an update on our development of a new and improved B4UFLY app. It’s yet another way that we’re connecting our airspace control engine Dynamic Airspace to more operators.

To download the latest version of the Kittyhawk app click here.

laanc-recreational-left

B4UFLY

Calling B4UFLY Test Pilots

Sign Up for Early Beta Access to the New B4UFLY Powered by Kittyhawk

As Kittyhawk set out to rebuild and rethink B4UFLY for the recreational pilot, we used the exact same process as we do for our enterprise products. We worked closely with the FAA to understand the audience for this application and spent a lot of time on user development. We questioned every feature and examined every use case to make sure we were delivering the best product for the recreational drone pilot with an unwavering focus on airspace safety, understanding, and compliance.

With a complete set of user stories, technical requirements, and awesome designs, we’ve begun native development on both iOS and Android and we’re looking ahead to the official launch this summer.

But we don’t launch products without user testing, and that’s where you come in. You won’t find another company that values user feedback (and acts on it) as much as Kittyhawk. We’re bringing that feedback-based approach to B4UFLY and will be using the forthcoming weeks for alpha and beta testing.

If you’d like early access, you can sign up here to get on the distribution list.

Sign up here

We’ll be working over the next couple of weeks to wrap up development and get started on beta testing for iOS and Android. All we ask for those that want to participate in the beta is that you give us your feedback about what you love, what you miss, what you want, and what you don’t understand. We’ll be collecting and incorporating all of your notes and input as we prepare for the official launch in the coming months.

About B4UFLY Powered by Kittyhawk

Kittyhawk is bringing our Dynamic Airspace™ platform to B4UFLY with data layers and advisories tailored for the recreational drone pilot. Just like in our other applications, the airspace data is sourced directly from authoritative FAA sources. In the upcoming release, we’re incorporating new designs to elevate understanding and maximize safety compliance for recreational drone pilots in the national airspace.


faa-kittyhawk-b4ufly

FAA Selects Kittyhawk as Sole Provider of New B4UFLY Application

Today, Kittyhawk is announcing an exclusive public-private partnership to rejuvenate and lead development of the FAA’s B4UFLY mobile application using Kittyhawk’s Platform to power the safe and compliant flying experience for millions of U.S.-based users. B4UFLY is a free app that helps drone operators operate compliantly with FAA rules and regulations.

We are truly honored the FAA selected Kittyhawk, and I feel this acknowledges our leadership in drone technology and product development. I wanted to share a little bit about why we’re excited about it and how we’ll be executing on this opportunity.

As an approved UAS Service Supplier that’s able to programatically offer authorizations for commercial operators to fly in controlled airspace via the FAA’s LAANC program, we understand the importance of delivering the correct information at the right time. One of our key learnings from the LAANC onboarding process was that the capability to source airspace data from the FAA directly, creates opportunity to vastly improve flying experiences for all kinds of operators.

Our primary focus at Kittyhawk is safety.

We know that the future of a successful integration of drones into the National Airspace (NAS) depends upon a strong foundation of safety. This means giving pilots the information they need in a precise, reliable and concise format.

Kittyhawk will be leveraging the power of our recently released Dynamic Airspace™ product to power the new and improved B4UFLY mobile app.

Over the past four years, Kittyhawk has helped power over 500,000 safe and compliant commercial drone flights in the United States. We’ve served tens of millions of requests for airspace information through our application to help commercial and hobbyist operators alike. We’ve helped scale and power the largest teams of commercial operators in the world, and now we’re looking forward to leveraging that capability to continually improve B4UFLY.

The careful observer might ask why we’ve chosen to work on B4UFLY when Kittyhawk’s focus is purely enterprise solutions. We believe that Kittyhawk needs to be building our industry alongside of our company. Our goal is for our enterprise customers to be flying as much as possible. Flights don’t happen easier or more frequently when negligent operators are shutting down airports, breaching Presidential TFR’s, or endangering our national security.

Together with the FAA, we want to turn B4UFLY into a best-in-class solution for understanding the airspace operators are utilizing. We want to make it easy to understand where you can and can’t fly, and together with community-based organizations like the AMA, continue to support the next generation of aviation innovators to fly safely and responsibly.

We’re already working on the next version of B4UFLY, and look forward to using our expertise as a fast moving start up with laser-like focus on safety and quality to bring reliable, easy to understand information about where operators can fly to help make the NAS safer for everyone. As features like Remote Identification and the implementation of a UTM system come to fruition, Kittyhawk stands ready to help enterprises and hobbyists alike safely access the NAS.

We know that the future of drones is bright and look forward to doing our share to help that future arrive just a little bit faster.


airspace

Airspace Just Got Dynamic

Launching The Next Generation of Enterprise Compliance & Planning Solutions with Kittyhawk Dynamic Airspace™

Airspace used to be the airspace. Your map was my map. The sectional was everyone’s sectional. But today’s airspace is more nuanced, more granular, and more unique to the recurring tasks that drones are taking on in the enterprise.

As the operating system for enterprise drone programs, Kittyhawk’s job is to connect all the different data points and activities into a single system of record — trusted, encrypted, intuitive, and actionable. With the launch of Kittyhawk Dynamic Airspace™, we’re bringing a new level of compliance to drone operations while also giving our customers more control over THEIR airspace — and by definition — their workflows, their reports, and their risk tolerance.

While going through the LAANC approval process with the FAA last year, we started building our own airspace product with direct FAA data sources and UAS Facility Map content. But we didn’t just want to give you airspace — our goal is to give you YOUR airspace. Kittyhawk Dynamic Airspace enables your team to look at your airspace, see your authorizations, your locations, your annotations, and the points of interest relevant to your company.

We have combined our patent-pending airspace technology with Kittyhawk engineering and design to create an elegant and simplified airspace experience with colors, advisories, warnings, weather, and alerts that reduce noise and give a clear operational picture of your airspace. This is a foundational element that combined with our API will enable us to do things like send actionable compliance alerts — not if your people simply fly in controlled airspace, but if they fly in controlled airspace without proper authorization or operate outside of that authorization.

Once you put Dynamic Airspace into action across your drone program, each map layer will immediately add valuable situational awareness to your operation and for your team. Each map layer is a segment of your compliance whether you’re looking at controlled airspace or one of your LAANC authorizations. In addition to all of the critical airspace layers that you need for planning and flying safely in the national airspace (from special use airspace to UAS facility maps), you’ll find a whole host of new layers coming to YOUR maps.

kittyhawk-airspace

Straight out of the gate we’re introducing LAANC-as-a-Layer™ and you’ll be able to see current and upcoming authorizations on your map anywhere you’re accessing Kittyhawk including Android, iOS, and the new Kittyhawk web dashboard. Coming soon, we’ll be introducing a whole host of layers including COAs, waivers, missions, flights, and UTM data.

We’re not stopping there, and we’re already working on helping customers define areas of operation with details around buildings, facilities, and critical infrastructure to give their operation a new way to view their airspace when planning, flying, streaming, and reporting.

If you’re a Kittyhawk customer, talk to your Customer Success Representative about using Dynamic Airspace today. If you’re not yet a Kittyhawk customer, we’d love to talk to you about your drone program and how we can help you launch right, grow smart, and scale.


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Newsletter August 2018

Hey Kittyhawkers!
It’s been a while since we updated you on Kittyhawk, and boy do we have a lot to share.
The biggest news is our recent funding round to the tune of $5M from Boeing’s Horizon X Ventures and several other top VC firms. We are thrilled and humbled to have the world’s largest and most renowned aviation company supporting our vision for the future of UAS management. You can read all about it in our press release or Boeing's press release.
We raised the capital to further develop our capabilities as a full stack enterprise drone solution to empower you to derive even more value from your commercial drone operations.
CEO Jon Hegranes, in his latest blog post, goes into great detail about where we will be spending and investing our resources in the near future. Here is an excerpt from Jon’s post:

‘Drone operations’ used to mean flight logging, the place where Kittyhawk began. Today we’re focused on much larger pieces of operations, including things like developing LAANC and UTM solutions, building out our automated flight tools for more rigorous and granular data analysis, and ultimately gearing these tools to different countries and localizations around the world.

 

LAANC Update - We’re Almost There

Earlier this year we announced our partnership with Boeing subsidiary Jeppesen to integrate LAANC (Low Altitude Authorization and Notification Capability) into our platform. Although we are discussing several other projects together, providing you with near instantaneous flight authorizations in controlled airspace is our #1 priority. We’ve made a ton of progress over the last couple of months culminating with the team spending a week with the FAA in DC to iron out all the details, while our engineering team has been working overtime to ensure our solution conforms to the Kittyhawk standard. So expect a fast, intuitive and easy to use authorization process when we launch. Look out for more details and an official announcement in the very near future.

 

We’re Hiring!

We’re strong and growing, and always on the lookout for great people. If you’re eager to help build the autonomous future like we are, take a look at our careers page or send us a note and share your ideas.

 

Kittyhawk in the News

Over the last few years, we’ve increasingly voiced our views on where the UAS industry is going and the media has taken notice. Here are some recent articles and a podcast you may enjoy.

Commercial UAV News
Redefining the “R” in ROI for Commercial Drone Programs with Kittyhawk – an interview with Joshua Ziering and Jon Hegranes

Fast Company
The U.S. is opening prime urban sky to commercial drones

DroneBelow
Josh Ziering: Kittyhawk Forges Ahead With $5M Funding from Bonfire Ventures, Boeing HorizonX

Inderdrone Podcast
Episode 6 - Unified Drone Operations with Joshua Ziering of Kittyhawk

 

Conference Season is Upon Us. Catch us if you can

As the industry grows, we grow with it. Our vision and expertise are increasingly recognized and we’ve been invited to speak at several conferences this year. Keep an eye out for Kittyhawk sessions, classes and panel discussions at Interdrone, Commercial UAV Expo, and DJI AirWorks. Hit us up if you are attending any of these events.

 

Stay Tuned for Next Time...

Thank you all for continuing to be a world-class community. The platform keeps growing with awesome new features and functionality with your support. Keep an eye out over the next couple of months as we will be introducing some exciting new changes to our product and announcing new projects with Boeing, Jeppesen, and other industry leaders around the world.

Let's fly,
Team Kittyhawk


Bringing Young Women to the Drone Industry

We live in an era of opportunities, options, and possibilities. While as technologists, we focus on the fast-paced technological growth, it’s also essential for us to prepare the next generation for the future.

“If your actions inspires others to do more, others to dream more, learn more, do more and become more, you are a leader.” — John Quincy Adams

Growing up, there were so many ways segregation shaped me, but it was the education and support from people around that liberated me. It is this feeling of liberation and support that I aspire to share with and inspire the next generation.

0*IFV5ZpZztqtU1InCAs an engineer and advocate for gender equality, I recognize the importance of motivating young girls about STEM and igniting their imaginations. Given the recent ascent of the #metoo movement and the stats of women in tech, it is more critical than ever to help young girls believe in themselves. It is this vision that prompted me to invest my time in mentoring middle school girls at the San Francisco Community School Technovation program and help them with the development of an app called “Allevi8 — Keep Going”.

These girls had a passion and vision to develop an app that would address the ugly truth of depression in young kids. The app they developed would help teenagers identify and differentiate early signs of depression and save them from falling into the deep dark spiral of depression, one step at a time. While it was heart wrenching to see these young girls concerned about such a grave issue at this young age, it gave me hope and drove me to help prepare them for the future.

 

Their app was impressive and earned a spot on channel 5 news:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pM4FFe4O7W8

However, the point here isn’t just about how great their app is but also to help them gain a positive perspective and pursue a career in tech. One of the teachers at the school, who organized weekly classes and helped bring all this together, Nolan Irene said “before Technovation, none of the girls were really interested in Computer Science, nor had role models in Tech.” As a mentor, I helped these girls get a glimpse into a world where women could do amazing thing.

For past three months, I would meet these girls every week and would talk about how amazing my job is. My stories from work gave them a glimpse into a world where women could do amazing things, and this got them excited for a career in tech. I am extremely grateful for my team at Kittyhawk for supporting me through this.

It was when these girls said I was the reason for them to keep going, I found my bliss!

However, hearing about the cool drones and actually experiencing them are two different things. So, my team and I decided to organize a fly day for the girls. They got to fly the drones and see the world from an aerial perspective in the Kittyhawk app. By mentoring at the school, I tried and make coding cool for these girls but was still abstract. Experiencing a Fly day made code real for them, and real can mean achievable, shifting their perspective about a career in tech.

sonal baid

sonal baid

sonal baid


Jeppesen and Kittyhawk

Jeppesen and Kittyhawk Team Up On LAANC Drone Authorizations

Thousands of square miles of airspace will be open for instant authorization to Kittyhawk customers and create an opportunity for the next stage of uncrewed air traffic.

DENVER, Colo., May 1, 2018 — Kittyhawk, the market leader in enterprise drone operations software, today announced a collaboration with Jeppesen, a Boeing Company, to start working towards being able to offer digital airspace authorization directly from the FAA into Kittyhawk’s platform. Upon FAA approval, Kittyhawk’s elite enterprise customers will be able to receive digital authorization to operate within thousands of square miles of airspace in near-real time and will be able to send digital flight plan notifications.

Kittyhawk’s unwavering commitment to quality and utility means that this will be a Low Altitude Authorization and Notification Capability (LAANC) implementation unlike any other LAANC implementation currently on the market. Starting with their dedication to intuitive design, Kittyhawk and Jeppesen will streamline the LAANC authorization process to be as easy to use as modern drones are to fly.

Jeppesen and Kittyhawk’s combined capabilities will deliver industry-leading navigation data from Jeppesen and UAS platform operations management from Kittyhawk, to simplify commercial drone operations. As a global leader in aviation services, Jeppesen provides long-standing experience and credibility to fortify a disruptive, early stage company in Kittyhawk.

“We’re approaching LAANC as more than just a faster authorization, but a critical piece to an effective drone operation,” said Jon Hegranes, CEO of Kittyhawk. “Real-time authorization without real-time visibility, enforcement, or compliance leaves more problems than solutions for commercial operators.”

Over the coming months, the FAA will release over 2,000 square miles of new airspace for drones to fly in densely populated areas and near airports. This new airspace will be a boon to the commercial drone industry and enable more flights than ever before. Some of Kittyhawk’s enterprise customers estimate that they will be able to fly up to twice as many flights with LAANC versus what had been an up to 90-day manual authorization process.

“This strategic alliance with Kittyhawk will help us gain a strong foothold in the dynamic and expanding UAV/drone market for commercial operations,” said Mike Abbott, director, Jeppesen Data Solutions. “Eliminating manual processes through data-driven navigation and LAANC operations management matches perfectly with our dedication to simplifying complex procedures in traditional aviation fields and we look forward to exciting new developments with our Kittyhawk relationship, moving forward.”

Kittyhawk plans to start deploying LAANC to enterprise customers in the coming weeks and will have a full deployment available to the public shortly after. Kittyhawk and Jeppesen will continue to work together to safely empower the commercial drone industry with more flight opportunities.

Looking ahead, LAANC is just the beginning of larger uncrewed traffic management (UTM) objectives that Kittyhawk and Jeppesen have the opportunity to explore as the national airspace evolves.

About Jeppesen

For more than 80 years, Jeppesen has made it possible for pilots and their passengers to safely and efficiently reach their destinations. Today, this pioneering spirit continues as Jeppesen delivers transformative information and optimization solutions to improve the efficiency of air operations around the globe. Jeppesen is a Boeing subsidiary and part of the Digital Aviation and Analytics business unit within Boeing Global Services. Boeing offers the industry’s largest portfolio of services, support and solutions, providing customers a competitive advantage by solving real operational problems, enabling better decisions, maximizing efficiency and improving environmental performance — intelligent information solutions across the entire aviation ecosystem.

About Kittyhawk

Kittyhawk unifies the mission, aircraft, and data to empower safe and effective drone operations. Based in San Francisco, the company develops real-time flight operations and management solutions for professional pilots and fleet managers across a multitude of missions. Established industry leaders in media, insurance, oil and gas, rail transportation, as well as education, law enforcement, fire and emergency management agencies around the world all rely on Kittyhawk for their end-to-end drone operations. Discover more at https://www.aloft.ai.

Media Contacts:

Brian Rantala

Jeppesen Communications

Office: +1 303–328–4370

Mobile: +1 720–568–9298

brian.rantala@jeppesen.com


LAANC In-Depth

Kittyhawk Insights: LAANC In-Depth

Breaking Down the Potential of LAANC

With the initial roll-out of LAANC just a few weeks away, we’ve been hard at work integrating native, seamless, and beautiful LAANC functionality into our platform (but more on that later ;). Today we wanted to dig into the numbers and dissect *why* there’s such a fervor around LAANC.

What is LAANC?

Aviation is full of acronyms, and there’s no better example than LAANC — or Low Altitude Authorization and Notification Capability. LAANC was developed over the last year in a collaboration with government and private industry to open the national airspace to drone operators, replacing a ~90-day manual process to receive authorization to fly in controlled airspace, down to seconds via an API. This is a critical step in evolving the airspace and automating processes, without sacrificing safety for manned or uncrewed flights.

What LAANC really means for commercial drone operators is a quick and unambiguous method to request flight authorizations in controlled airspace. The FAA has essentially replaced a blackbox method that took months to a precise method that happens immediately. For commercial pilots, the airspace will start to look a lot different.

Kittyhawk-Insights--LAANC-In-Depth2

Since our founding, we’ve been a strong advocate for the advancement and openness of our industry, highlighted by our focus on making LAANC available in the open market. That day is just around the corner, as the FAA will begin rolling out LAANC to different regions beginning April 30th in the South Central region and culminating in the Central North region in September. Many of our customers estimate that they’ll be able to double the number of commercial flights they can do nationally once the LAANC rollout is complete. Based on the numbers below, we think those bullish views underestimate the actual potential.

LAANC will not be impactful purely through speed. Vast amounts of previously onerous airspace will become accessible across the National Airspace.

We’re excited at the opportunity that authorization wait times in seconds instead of months for authorizations will bring to the commercial drone industry once LAANC is rolled out across all major regions by the Fall of 2018. However, once we started analyzing the numbers, it became clear the largest impact isn’t speed. It’s area. And that’s even more exciting.


Question: What percent of controlled airspace has a zero foot ceiling?

Answer: 16.95%

Based on the latest UAS Facility Map (UASFM) data, a new feature we’ve recently integrated into our applications, only 16.95% of the airspace is not immediately accessible with LAANC. The other 83.05% has greater than a zero-foot ceiling. In essence, those broad 5-mile no-fly-zones are being whittled down to less than a mile per airport.

Extrapolating this across the ~500 LAANC airports around the country, this equates to more than 33,000 square miles of newly accessible airspace.

full-LAANC

Assuming that FAA Part 107 pilots comply with other LAANC-related requirements for immediate authorization, this means that vast majority of controlled airspace is opening up… But at what altitudes? Surely not more than 100 feet or so, right?


Question: What percent of UASFM is accessible up to 400 feet?

Answer: 52.47%

More than half of UASFM grids have a maximum ceiling of 400 feet. This is intuitive and why many of us have been advocating for more granularity in airspace regulations, but it’s backed up by data that airport operators submitted to the FAA in creating the facility maps.

laanc

The combined impact of these two metrics mean that some of the most valuable airspace for sUAS operations is opening up meaningfully — both in area and ceiling.

In short, yes, there is very good reason to be excited for LAANC.

Be sure to follow the Kittyhawk.io blog and newsletter for updates on our upcoming LAANC announcements and releases.
Contact us anytime for platform questions at team@www.aloft.ai or sales/partnership inquiries at sales@www.aloft.ai.


CristalSky

Newsletter February 2018

2018 is Moving Fast!

Hey Kittyhawkers!

It’s been almost 3 years since we started Kittyhawk. In that time, we’ve grown by leaps and bounds. What started our as two founders in a basement has developed into a team of eleven people. We’ve logged years of contiguous flight time. And we’ve won the hearts of individuals and mammoth enterprises alike. One of the primary ways we’ve managed to accomplish this is by listening to our customers.

In the past year, we’ve heard some feedback that the plans were not fitting a larger and larger cohort of our users. Our small business segment was looking for more flexibility, particularly those folks with rapidly growing teams. To remedy this, we’ve created the predictably named “Small Business” plan. Add or remove up to 10 people as you see fit, and we’ll take care of all the billing details so that you only pay for what you use. Scale up or down as you like.

Additionally, we’ve talked to thousands of you via text, on the phone, at conferences and at flying events that love Kittyhawk but just don’t need all of it’s powerful enterprise features. So we’ve bundled select premium features for things like DJI imports, sectional maps, and automated flights (more on that below) and created plans called Starter and Pilot In Command (PIC). These give you all the great features you’ll need as a solo-operator and nothing you don’t. Sign up directly from the iOS app and coming soon to Android.

As for our Enterprise plans, we’ve started to bring out some really exciting new features. February 1st, we’ll be rolling out our GraphQL API. This lets your team ingest any of your data in any format you specify. We know that large companies have rigid data requirements. That’s why we built a tool flexible enough to support the plethora of enterprises that trust their drone operations to Kittyhawk.

Finally, we’ve seen a couple of non-five star reviews peppered amongst our five star review solar system because we ask people to sign up before they can use the free version of Kittyhawk. The reason was pretty logical from our side -- we needed users to have an account to store their checklists, flights, drones etc. Now, we’ll prompt folks to sign up or login when they try to add those things if they aren’t logged in already. A fun side-effect of this is that Kittyhawk will load much faster now.

Can’t Stop, Won’t Stop -- Automation Comes to Kittyhawk

We want to be the center of your drone ecosystem and this is our next step towards doing that. We’ve gotten tons of feature requests to do mission planning and we’re excited to announce that automated flights and mission planning have arrived in Flight Deck on iOS.

Now you can plan flights with unlimited waypoints and fly them with the touch of a button. Moreover, you can create automated flights from hand-flown flights. So if there is a particularly challenging route you’d like to automate, have the Chief Pilot fly it first, then anyone else on the team can duplicate it. Flight Planning is available to everyone with a PIC and above account.

automated flight

 

Flight Deck on Crystal Sky is Almost Here

We’ve been busy flight testing our new Android version of Flight Deck. It’s getting close to being worthy of having our “K” upon it.

In addition to the full Android version, we’ll be releasing a special Crystal Sky version for our enterprise customers that you can securely download from Kittyhawk servers (As opposed to untrusted third parties like APKPure, etc) with a verifiable MD5 hash. If you’re not a NetSec nerd, an MD5 hash acts like a fingerprint for a file. You can demonstrably say, “I have the same version as Kittyhawk.”

 

Thank You For Flying With Kittyhawk

Thank you all for continuing to be a world-class community. The product continues to grow leaps and bounds with your support. If you’re eager to build the autonomous future like we are, maybe it’s time to take a look at our careers page. We’re hiring.

Sincerely,

Jon Hegranes & Josh Ziering
Founders, Kittyhawk.io


newsletter-september-2017

Newsletter September 2017

Kittyhawk Named A Top Drone App

Most Widely Used Drone App, Second to Only DJI

A big thank you goes out to all of our users for showing up for us and letting everyone know what drone operations platform you like the best. Colin “The Drone Analyst” Snow, just put out a report saying that Kittyhawk ranks #2 for drone operations and management just behind DJI. You can checkout his research here.
To all our amazing pilots: we know that our product isn’t mandatory and included out-of-the-box. We sincerely thank each and every one of you for going out of your way to use our product. Your constant suggestions and feedback make working on the Kittyhawk team an absolute joy.

Kittyhawk Pilots FLY! A Lot.

The Kittyhawk community continues to impress. We can’t believe how fast you all powered past 100,000 flights. We logged 100,000 flights in less time than it took to log our first 10,000 flights. And the best part is that almost all of them were created with full telemetry using either DJI Imports or Kittyhawk Flight Deck.
Speaking of telemetry…
You’ve probably seen the beautiful telemetry available to you right from the app. Keep a close eye on the web dashboard in the coming weeks. We’ve been working on bringing all that beautiful rich telemetry into your flight logs and it’s almost done.

Congratulations To Our 100,000th Flight Spark Winner!

Michael Brown of the UK is our winner for the 100,000th flight! Michael’s been using Kittyhawk Flight Deck to keep his pre-flight, in-flight and post-flight data organized. This picture, taken with Kittyhawk Flight Deck on his brand new DJI Spark is of the North East coast of Morecambe Bay.

Michael Brown
Prop guards an all. Definitely a Kittyhawk pilot.

If you’re interested in seeing more of Michael’s drone work, you can visit his website at: https://mikeeaa6.myportfolio.com/drone-images-3

 

Hold on tight! Kittyhawk Is Growing … Fast

In the last 90 days we’ve tripled the size of the team, doubled the number of users and continue blazing down the trail to be the “one drone app to rule them all.”
If you think you’d be a good addition to our team we’re looking for exceptional team mates with specialties in design, development, and sales. We’ve got a diverse team with exceptional skill sets. Above all, we value execution. Tell us what you want to do here. We’ll listen.

Meet The Team!

We’re taking Kittyhawk on the road! Are you attending these drone events this year? Reach out to us and let’s meet up! Hit us on Twitter, Facebook or even Text!
Oct 3–4 : San Jose, CA — Drone World Expo (Booth #411 and hosting panel)
Oct 17–19: New Orleans, LA — ALEA Public Safety Drone Expo — ( Teaching Class: Total sUAS Flight Awareness)
Oct 20–21: Georgia Drone Summit (Sponsoring and panel on future of drone software)
November 7–9th: Denver, CO — DJI Airworks ( Speaking on setting up a corporate safety culture)
Stay tuned for our 2018 schedule but expect to see us at CES and Xponential 2018!

 

Make sure to follow our Twitter and Facebook or LinkedIn for updates on ad hoc events we might throw at these conferences!

Like what you read? Book a call to chat about your enterprise needs and our best-in-class enterprise solutions.


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Newsletter January 2017

Enabling Compliant Operations, Globally

As rewarding as it is to fly, one of our underlying goals with Kittyhawk is to help you fly safely and compliantly. We help do this with Kittyhawk PREFLIGHT, providing weather and airspace details. We help do this with robust checklists (including our open-sourced community checklists). We also help do this by helping both hobbyist and commercial pilots ‘carry’ their FAA credentials directly in the Kittyhawk app.

For our many international pilots, we have more localized versions coming soon. So far Canada and Australia have been the noisiest, but if you live somewhere and want to see Kittyhawk support your country and local regulations, just reply to this email and let us know. Your emails truly affect our product roadmap and prioritizing.

For those in the US, we’re just as excited as you are about FAA Part 107 (and the entire Kittyhawk team has now passed the exam :). We know how important this test is and what it can enable, so this month we’re excited to work with David Young from DroneLaunchAcademy.com who has shared some tips on some of the most frequently missed questions on the exam.


Inside Part 107

Hey Everyone,

David Young here with DroneLaunchAcademy.com. Some of you are likely interested in obtaining your FAA Remote Pilot Certificate so you can fly drones for commercial purposes. To get your remote pilot certificate, the main thing you need to do is pass the FAA’s Unmanned Aircraft exam (sometimes referred to as the “Part 107 exam”). It’s a 60 question multiple choice test that covers areas like airspace, weather, regulation, and other topics relevant to drone operations.

Some of the most missed questions on the exam are the ones that deal with with reading aeronautical charts, determining what type of airspace the proposed flight area is in, and determining if a drone pilot would be allowed to fly there.

So to give you a better chance on test day, let’s take a look at a sample question that might be similar to what you’d see on the exam.

Sample Question

faa

The FAA might ask you something like:

[Refer to the sectional chart excerpt.] If you are flying your uncrewed aircraft at the maximum allowable altitude over the tower that is directly to the East of Garrison (D05) airport, what airspace would you be flying in and would you need prior authorization before flying there?

The student needs to know a few things to answer this question. How do I know where the towers are? By looking at the chart, how do I tell what type of airspace I’m in? What are the rules around altitude limits? What are the rules around airspace authorization requirements?

Reading the Sectional Chart

One of the most helpful, but often overlooked, tools that the FAA provides to you on test day is the sectional chart legend. It looks like this…

sectional aeronautical chart

The legend will tell you what the different airspace markings look like and will tell you what “obstructions” (aka structures/towers) look like.

We can see from the legend that obstructions less than 1,000 feet high are noted by a symbol that looks like a tent with a dot inside, and that the height of the obstruction is listed in sea level and, in parentheses, above ground level.

drone obstructions

In our scenario, we are looking at the tower directly to the east of Garrison airport, which is 356 feet above ground level (look at the number in the parentheses).

feet above ground level

If we take another look at the legend, it also tells us what the airspace markings on the sectional chart look like. If you look at Garrison airport, you can see a shaded magenta ring surrounding the airport. The legend tells us that a shaded magenta area is Class E airspace from 700 feet above ground level and up.

Now that we have those two pieces of information, we can move on to look at altitude limits and airspace authorization rules.

Altitude Limits

Part 107 (the rule that governs commercial drone ops), says that a drone operator can fly up to 400 feet above ground level or 400 feet above a structure. So if a structure is 200 feet high, you can fly a drone up to 600 feet above ground level if you are directly over the structure.

In the question above, we are told that we would be flying the maximum altitude above the structure directly to the East of Garrison Airport. We previously determined that the structure was 356 feet above ground level. If we were going fly 400 feet above the structure, we would be flying at 756 feet above ground level.

Airspace Restrictions

Part 107 also says that a drone pilot is required to have prior authorization from the FAA before conducting drone operations in controlled airspace (Class B, C, D, and E airspace). We previously determined that the shaded magenta circle around Garrison airport indicates Class E airspace from 700 feet above ground level and upwards.

Bringing It All Together

We know that in the scenario the question proposes, we would be flying at 756 feet above ground level (356 feet for the tower height plus 400 feet allowed above that). We also know that the tower is within the Class E airspace ring, and the Class E airspace begins at 700 feet above ground level. So if we were flying a drone at 756 feet, we would be in the Class E airspace. From looking at Part 107, we know that we WOULD be required to have prior authorization from the FAA before operating in that airspace.

So there you have it. You are now one step closer to getting your Remote Pilot Certificate! Happy flying.

-David

David YoungDavid Young is the founder of Drone Launch, a business focused on giving people the knowledge and tools they need to safely and profitably use drones for business. Find out more at DroneLaunchAcademy.com and DroneLaunchAccounting.com. He can be reached by email at david.young@dronelaunch.co or on Twitter or Instagram at @dronelaunch.

 

 


 

The Year Ahead

As much new code and as many new features that we added to Kittyhawk in 2016, the coming year is going to put that to shame. We’re moving faster than ever to build the most amazing, robust, reliable, and innovative platform for drone operations.

Please continue to send your texts and emails. We love hearing from you and are thankful to have this elite community of drone pilots who are helping to move the platform forward in very cool ways.

Happy flying,

Jon, Josh & Team Kittyhawk