Skyports Drone Services, Carbonix Partner to Lower Barriers to Drone Adoption in Energy and Mining

Skyports Drone Services is at the forefront of global drone regulations, operations, standards and technology in the drone space.  Carbonix is a leading provider of BVLOS aircraft and sensors for a variety of industries.  Together, their combined expertise will lower the barriers to drone adoption in mining and energy and help scale operations.

Skyports and Carbonix Combine Forces to Lower Barriers to Drone Adoption

by DRONELIFE Staff Writer Ian J. McNabb

Sydney-based Skyports Drone Services has partnered with fellow Australian brand Carbonix to use their eVTOL UAV in new BVLOS applications across the country. The first phase of this new relationship will see Skyports embedding pilots into Carbonix’s operations, flying for Carbonix’s clients in the energy and mining industry and allowing for an expansion of Carbonix’ suite of drone services. While Skyports is active in Europe, Asia, Africa, and the Middle East, this is their first commercial partnership in their native Australia.

“We’re really excited to be partnering with an experienced and trusted global operator,” said Carbonix CEO, Philip van der Burg. “Skyports Drone Services fills a gap with their scalable end-to-end operational experience in flying fixed-wing VTOL UAVs. We look forward to having their pilots enhance our BVLOS capabilities and forging a lasting partnership that sees both companies exchange knowledge and expertise.”

Skyports Drone Services Director, Alex Brown said, “We don’t just fly, we also lead on regulation, compliance, safety management, airspace, and stakeholder management. Our partnership with Carbonix will apply this knowledge to boost operational capabilities and enable the company to scale its infrastructure inspection services. Proving the safety case for drone operations is crucial to the long-term growth and success of the industry. We look forward to sharing our operational knowledge to support Carbonix and promote the adoption of drone operations.”

Matt Shurdy is the first pilot to begin work for Carbonix after stints in the UK and Europe, specializing in the kind of infrastructure inspection work Carbonix is trying to bring to Australia. In the press release, he said, “In my first few months here in Australia I’ve been focused on the development of best-in-class safety procedures, customer demonstrations and training with the Volanti aircraft to assist in the development of UAS use cases. Australia is on the brink of unlocking huge potential withdrone operations and I’m grateful to be able to support this journey with the Carbonix team.”

Read more:

Ian McNabb is a staff writer based in Boston, MA. His interests include geopolitics, emerging technologies, environmental sustainability, and Boston College sports.

GeoCue Partners with Tediris to Integrate TrueView 3D Imaging with Aero 4 Drone

GeoCue TrueView 3D ImagingGeoCue and Tediris Solutions Partner to Provide Spain with Aerial Mapping Solutions

by DRONELIFE Staff Writer Ian M. Crosby

LiDAR mapping leader GeoCue has announced a new partnership with Spanish drone service provider Tediris Solutions. With close to a decade of experience in the UAV market, Tediris Solutions integrates sophisticated sensors, drones, and artificial intelligence software to grant customers important insight from processed data.

Tediris Solutions’ most recent integration of TrueView 3D Imaging Sensors with Conyca’s Aero 4 drone offers complete aerial mapping solutions for the Spanish and European geospatial sector. In addition to the TrueView sensor and the drone, the integration also incorporates Conyca’s UAV Commander tool developed for flight preparation. Once processed, the data is managed through LP360 Software, resulting in a streamlined and intuitive workflow.

“We’ve been collaborating with Conyca on various topography projects for over five years,” said Eduardo Faro, General Manager at Tediris Solutions. “Their products, like the Aero 4 drone, seamlessly fit into our ecosystem and are an ideal match for the high-end TrueView lidar solutions.”

“Tediris Solutions is a great partner for us because they are committed to not only providing the best in high-end solutions but also helping their customers maximize their products,” said Gorka Zarauz, GeoCue’s Business Development Manager in Europe. “The TrueView integration will empower their customers to gather more information efficiently, and by using LP360 processing software, they will be able to create highly valuable deliverables.”

“What sets this solution apart is the optimization of the TrueView system and workflow, ensuring clean and accurate data,” said Faro. “Furthermore, this system operates without the need for an internet connection, safeguarding data from unauthorized access. Users can download their maps in the UAV Command tool for offline use. Notably, the system minimizes point cloud noise, reducing the amount of post-processing work required. Perhaps most impressively, customers can access data and insights in less than 10 minutes after landing the drone, a remarkable feat in terms of performance.”

Read more:

Ian attended Dominican University of California, where he received a BA in English in 2019. With a lifelong passion for writing and storytelling and a keen interest in technology, he is now contributing to DroneLife as a staff writer.

Why Now is the Time to Bet Big on Drones: a DRONELIFE Exclusive, from Matt Sloane

Skyfish and DroneLogbook drone industry 2021 drone manufacturing investment in drone companiesbet big on drones, invest in drones

Skyfish M4

Drones have been big news – with big market predictions – since DRONELIFE began in 2014.  Since then, the market has gone through expansion, consolidation, and expansion again.  Investments in the drone indutry have gone up, down, and sometimes sideways.

Skyfire Consulting CEO Matt Sloane has a unique perspective on the sector: and from where he sits, the drone industry looks finally ready to live up to its promise.  Here’s why.

The following is a guest post  by Matt Sloane, CEO and Founder of Skyfire Consulting and Atlanta Drone Group.  DRONELIFE neither accepts nor makes payments for guest posts.

Continue reading below, or listen:

Why Now is the Time to Bet Big on Drones

by Skyfire CEO Matt Sloane

Every show or movie that’s ever been made about a groundbreaking new industry, its rapid growth, and sometimes rapid collapse always starts in a garage or a dorm room.

Take Halt and Catch Fire, the story about the rapid growth of the personal computing industry, The Social Network, about Mark Zuckerberg’s Harvard nerd turned billionaire rise to success (at the expense of the Winklevii) or Silicon Valley, where fictional startup Pied Piper went from garage to gargantuan and back to garage.

Watching these shows is both cathartic for me as a nearly ten-year veteran of the drone industry – a lot of sleepless nights, a lot of pivoting and “middle-out” type revelations; and equally as anxiety-inducing.

The commercial drone industry, which has been around for about ten years now, has gone through many of these cycles.

First, they were toys, and other than taking “dronies” (drone selfies), nobody saw the promise. Then an explosion in use cases from public safety to critical infrastructure and engineering to the promises that one day, burrito orders would be dropped at our doorsteps by flying robots.

The next phase has been some mix of “hurry up and wait” – for the FAA to allow “beyond visual line of sight” – to “it’s all collapsing” – Amazon Air laying off 18,000 people.

The truth is, some early titans are gone, some newer ones have come AND gone, and some are just beginning to come to life.

But if you’re an investor, trying to figure when the right time to get into the market would be, it’s undeniable that your chances are better TODAY than they have ever been in the past.

Why the Drone Industry

If you haven’t been paying attention, the drone industry is poised to be a $57B industry within the next 6 years, and only a fraction of that is recreational drones.

The promise of the commercial drone industry will bring us package delivery, yes, but more importantly medical device delivery, critical infrastructure inspection, real-time wildfire management tools, real-time asset tracking and logistics, homeland security tools, better traffic management algorithms, better and more accurate land surveys and real-time information on how climate is affecting our environment.

Why Now?

As we saw this week with the Instacart IPO, if you believe in the tech, get in early and strongly, you win big. Those who did, in Instacart’s case, turned a few hundred thousand dollars into a billion dollars; and those who got in late, lost.

Early is good, but too early isn’t.

The good news is, we’ve passed from “too early” to “early,” and don’t worry, there are still plenty of good bets in the drone space.

So why do I believe we’re at the inflection point?

As you read this article, the FAA Reauthorization Act of 2023 is making its way through Congress, and although it won’t hit the deadline of September 30th, it will happen sometime over the next few months.

Baked into that bill is the roadmap for truly allowing “beyond visual line of sight” or BVLOS flights – the holy grail of the commercial drone industry. This means that operators will be able to fly their drones outside of the line of sight of the pilot; opening up things like package delivery, remote inspections, medical deliveries and more.

Even if, for some crazy reason, those provisions don’t pass (they’ve already passed the House), the FAA just last week issued four BVLOS waivers that will serve as precedent for those of us who want to do it now.

In fact, many of the agencies we work with in the public sector have already received BVLOS waivers up to 2 miles, and are operating today.

If regulatory hold-ups being cleared isn’t enough of a signal to you, take the announcement Wednesday about Skydio’s new X10 aircraft. Love them or hate them, this drone is smaller than many, has better cameras than most, and an autonomous deployment box to go with it.

The technology is getting smarter, smaller, cheaper and more available than ever before. It’s certainly a long way from the home-built and toy-level stuff we were flying just a decade ago.

The Team

In my ten years in the drone industry, I have become somewhat of an expert at what makes one company likely to succeed, and another likely to fail. And so far, I’m batting 1000 on my predictions.

Good tech is cool, to be sure, but it’s always – and I mean ALWAYS – the best team that crosses the finish line. You can improve tech, but you can’t always improve the team, especially when negative attitudes come from the top.

Customer service and after-sales support; eagerness to listen to customers’ feedback and incorporate it into the product or service, flexibility and frankly, just being nice people is critical.

The companies that think they know better than their customers, the ones that over-engineer, over-price or minimize the concerns of the end-users always fail.

The last thing to look for in a drone company investment is true knowledge.

A lot of companies make sky-high predictions and promises about what they can deliver, and of course they do — that’s what pitch decks are for!

But do they actually have the knowledge and experience to make it happen?

Consider that companies who have a “legacy” in the drone industry, but haven’t yet “made it” may not have gotten there yet because they were busy surviving while they waited for regulations to change; not because they couldn’t accomplish what they said they could.

Much like with fine wine and good advice-givers, age and historical knowledge in this industry comes with experience and truly unmatched perspective.

Read more:

Matt Sloane is the founder and CEO of Skyfire – a drone solutions provider seeking to create the “Uber of public safety and critical infrastructure drones. He is a ten year veteran of the industry, serves on several industry advisory panels, and lectures regularly on the drone industry.

Retrofitting Cities for Air Taxis: Are Waterfront Vertiports the Future of Advanced Air Mobility?

Waterfront vertiportsSkyportz®, Contreras Earl Architecture and Pascall+Watson Architects will release a concept for an Australian waterfront e-mobility hub at the World Air Taxi Congress in San Francisco.

Continue reading below, or listen:

The group proposes that waterfront vertiports are a logical solution for retrofitting cities to accommodate eVTOLs.

The current proposal will replace an existing heliport on the Yarra River in Melbourne, with a new purpose built vertiport to accommodate the introduction of electric air taxis.

 The Skyportz vertiport would be a multi-use space.  “Under this plan the site would also be a multi modal hub for electric scooters, bikes, ferries and hire boats. A cafe would provide an area for people to view the action,” says the announcement.

“We have been developing designs and concepts for vertiports for five years and we keep coming back to waterfront sites being the most practical to retrofit cities for Advanced Air Mobility. The reality is that waterfront sites provide the safest access for electric air taxis in terms of aviation requirements for clear approach and departure paths”, said Skyportz CEO, Clem Newton-Brown.

“Waterfront sites are also likely to be one of the few places where land can be found to accommodate terminals and there is also the option for floating landing pads.”

“Paris has five vertiports proposed for the Olympics next year. They will be primarily using existing airports and helipads. The one new vertiport they have chosen to be on the river. This aligns with our thinking that when cities need to actually choose vertiport locations the lowest hanging fruit will be the waterfront locations”, said Newton-Brown.

 “We are really excited to have developed this concept in conjunction with Contreras Earl Architecture and Pascall+Watson Architects and it has great potential to be rolled out in waterfront cities around the world”, said Skyportz CEO, Clem Newton-Brown

“This landmark building is the result of addressing many different important parameters, including sustainability, context, climate, community and the user experience. The vertiport will feature a high-performance roof designed to be structurally robust, lightweight and sustainable owing to its aluminium monocoque structure – the same system employed in the manufacturing of cars and aircraft.

 By embracing the latest technology, we are liberated from traditional building practices and forms, and free to explore more forward-thinking ideas. Melbourne is ahead by having two vertiports designed in its city. We are proud to be part of the implementation of this new technology and what it means for the future of Melbourne and clean, green travel,” said Rafael Contreras. Director of Contreras Earl Architecture.

Advanced Air Mobility presents a real opportunity to enhance our major cities with regards to both improved liveability and connectivity. The Melbourne Vertiport utilises existing helicopter permissions to offer a quiet, zero-pollution solution that gets its users quickly and quietly to and from a range of metropolitan destinations.

It forms an ideal complement to the Citys Greenline Masterplan objectives in achieving both an environmentally and commercially revitalised Yarra frontage with drastically improved pedestrian access. What better way to show-case the spectacle of future flight than in replacing a central city helicopter service in this prominent location with a wonderful new, environmentally sensitive AAM facility for Melbournians. said Martin Neilan, Aviation Director, Pascall+Watson Architects.

“The key to this industry is breaking the nexus between aviation and existing airports. We need to develop a network of new vertiport sites if the industry is to reach its potential and we see the greatest potential in  waterfront locations”, said Newton-Brown.

Read more:

Joby Aviation Makes First Aircraft Delivery, 6 Months Ahead of Schedule

Joby Aviation first aircraft delivery Joby first aircraftElectric Vertical Take-Off and Landing Pioneer Joby Aviation, Inc. (NYSE:JOBY) Has Made First Delivery of Aircraft to Edwards Airforce Base

Continue reading below, or listen:

Joby Aviation has made it’s first eVTOL delivery, six months ahead of the scheduled delivery date.  Edwards Air Force Base will use the aircraft for cargo and passenger transportation.  A Joby announcement says that both Joby and U.S. Air Force personnel will operate the aircraft: and NASA will also use the aircraft for research.

Joby’s aircraft, which has already begun flying at Edwards AFB, is the first electric air taxi to be stationed on a U.S. military base and is believed to be the first delivery of an electric air taxi in the U.S., as part of Joby’s $131 million AFWERX Agility Prime contract with the U.S. Air Force.  Joby’s current and previously completed work with the Department of Defense represents a total potential contract value of $163 million, the largest in the industry.

Joby aircraft deliveryThe Agility Prime contract calls for the delivery of up to 9 aircraft.  Joby plans to deliver the second in early 2024.

Joby Aircraft at Edwards Air Force Base

The US manufactured Joby eVTOL will be stationed at Edwards for at least a year, utilizing the charging and ground support infrastructure provided by Joby. The installation will provide critical data to move the advanced aircraft sector forward.  “The U.S. Air Force and Joby will conduct joint flight testing and operations to demonstrate the aircraft’s capabilities in realistic mission settings. On-base operations will also include the training of Air Force pilots and aircraft maintenance crews, which will provide the DOD with valuable insight into the performance of eVTOL aircraft and will give Joby on-the-ground operational and training experience as the company prepares for the launch of commercial passenger service in 2025,” says the Joby announcement.

“We’re proud to join the ranks of revolutionary aircraft that first demonstrated their capabilities at Edwards Air Force Base, including the first American jet fighter, the first supersonic aircraft, and many others that have pushed the boundaries of aviation technology,” said JoeBen Bevirt, Founder and CEO of Joby.

“The longstanding support of the DOD and NASA has been critical to the rapid development of electric aviation and eVTOL aircraft, and demonstrates how successful public-private partnerships can bring new technology to life at speed. Their work will have profound implications for continued American leadership in both commercial and defense aerospace technology,” he added.

Joby Aviation

“Agility Prime’s stated objective in 2020 was to work towards an operational capability for transformative vertical lift in the DoD by 2023. The arrival of Joby’s aircraft at Edwards AFB is an important step towards achieving this objective,” said Col Elliott Leigh, AFWERX director and Chief Commercialization Officer for the Department of the Air Force.

“The delivery of this first eVTOL aircraft is the start of a new chapter in Edwards’ rich aerospace history,” notes Maj Phillip Woodhull, director, Emerging Technologies Integrated Test Force. “This partners private industry with the 412th Test Wing’s world-renowned test management execution. We are excited to agilely test, experiment with, and evaluate this new technology for potential future national defense applications.”

In partnership with the U.S. Air Force’s AFWERX program, NASA will also be supporting this testing at Edwards Air Force Base with NASA’s pilots, researchers, and equipment as part of their commitment to advancing the Advanced Air Mobility industry as a whole, for the benefit of all. NASA’s Armstrong Flight Research Center is located on Edwards Air Force Base, and has a long history of supporting important technological milestones in aviation and space – supersonic and hypersonic flight, digital fly-by-wire control systems, and the space shuttles.

“NASA’s participation in the Joby and AFWERX project will provide our researchers with hands-on experience with a representative eVTOL vehicle, concentrated on how these types of aircraft could fit into the national airspace for everyday use, that will inform NASA’s effort in supporting the entire eVTOL industry,” said NASA research pilot Wayne Ringelberg. “The research will include a focus on handling qualities evaluation tools, autonomy, and airspace integration, which is all needed research to push the industry forward.”

With a range of up to 100 miles plus energy reserves and a top speed of 200 mph, the Joby aircraft is capable of transporting a pilot and four passengers quickly and quietly with zero operating emissions.

Read more:

FAA Authorization Extended Through December 31, 2023: Now What?

FAA Reauthorization

Image public domain

The U.S. Congress has passed the Continuing Appropriations Act, 2024 to avert a government shutdown and fund the government through November 17, 2023.  Included was a measure to extend FAA Authorization  – set to expire 9/30 – through December 31, 2023.

The House of Representatives  Transportation and Infrastructure Committee Chairman Sam Graves (R-MO), Transportation and Infrastructure Committee Ranking Member Rick Larsen (D-WA), issued the following statement on the FAA Extension:

“Reauthorizing the FAA is vital to ensuring the safe and efficient operation of America’s aviation system. Though the House overwhelmingly passed a bill in July to reauthorize the FAA for five years, the Senate needs additional time to consider and reach final agreement on a multi-year FAA bill, thus, passing a short-term extension in order to ensure all FAA programs continue to function while negotiations continue is necessary. But make no mistake, enacting a long-term bill as soon as possible is a top priority, as a series of short-term extensions will be detrimental to the FAA, airport infrastructure improvements, and the aviation industry.”

The moves averted the potential of major disruption in the aviation sector: if the government shutdown had occurred along with the expiration of the FAA Reauthorization Bill of 2018, the compounding effect could have been dire as thousands of employees were furloughed and essential staff required to work without pay.  While the extension solves the immediate problem of funding, it does not provide the roadmap of priorities and deadlines for the agency that a full 5-year FAA Reauthorization package offers.

While the House has passed a package, the Senate has struggled to get agreement on a number of issues.  As other priorities crowd the schedule, stakeholders fear that a long term FAA Reauthorization may get pushed to the back burner.  (The 2012 FAA Reauthorization took 5 years: there were 18 extensions before the 2018 FAA Reauthorization was passed.)

In addition, the Senate must confirm President Biden’s pick for FAA Administrator, Mike Whitaker, before he can take the position.  The current Acting FAA Administrator, Polly Trottenberg, must by law vacate the seat on October 25, 2023.

Without a long term funding package, which comes with clear priorities and deadlines, and a long term leader, the FAA is handicapped in moving forward on the long-term work that must be done to ensure that advanced unmanned aircraft can be safely integrated into the NAS.

Michael Robbins, Chief Advocacy Officer of leading drone advocacy organization AUVSI, made the following statement:

“AUVSI calls on Congress to break the current stalemate holding up the advancement of the five-year FAA Reauthorization and come together to finalize a multi-year bill that enhances safety and access for all users of the national airspace system.

Advanced aviation holds immense promise to provide safety, economic, workforce, and environmental benefits — but U.S. companies in the drone and Advanced Air Mobility industries need more regulatory progress and clarity. Short-term FAA extensions create burdens for both the FAA and the industry. Congress must provide stability to emerging industries and retain global aviation leadership by swiftly passing a multi-year FAA reauthorization.”

LEDA Conference Addresses Key Issues Facing Drone Use in Law Enforcement: DFR, Foreign Tech, and More

police using drones, police drones, ACLU, drones as first responder, DFR

Tony Webster [CC BY-SA 4.0]

LEDA conference brings together police agencies from across the country.

By DRONELIFE Features Editor Jim Magill

About 70 police agencies from across the country took part in the Law Enforcement Drone Association (LEDA) fourth annual conference, where participants took part in seminars on various aspects of done use in emergency management operations and participated in flight training exercises.

The conference, held in Bend, Oregon, Sept. 26 through Sept. 29, featured sessions focused on establishing a drone-as-first-responder program, crash/crime scene reconstruction, and maintaining a successful drone program through public transparency and community outreach, Brandon Karr, LEDA at-large board member and public information officer, said in an interview.

More than 150 conference public safety officers and staff members took part in the conference, the association’s largest annual event. Although most participants represented police and public safety agencies based in the Pacific Northwest, the event attracted participants from states as far away as Texas, Minnesota and Hawaii, Karr said.

In addition to the indoor educational and discussion sessions, participants got the opportunity to get some hands-on drone operation experience, flying along a National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST)-approved course.

“We do basic pilot proficiency for them, kind of like an annual qualification to show that they are proficient for flight operations,” Karr said. “We talk about how to fly for emergency procedures.”

Police and public service agency drone pilots received instruction in how to handle lost communication link situations, as well as how to perform leapfrog operations involving multiple drones and pilots, in which the pilots learn how to coordinate with one another in order to maintain persistent observation on a moving target.

The conference also featured new-product demonstrations where vendors showed off their wares and allowed participants to get some hands-on experience with their latest drones and gadgets. “The purpose of these conferences is to provide a lot of really good information but also provide a lot of really good stick time so that people can practice flying and practice some tactics,” Karr said.

With membership representing more than 700 police and public safety agencies, LEDA was formed to foster inter-agency collaboration and encourage the implementation of best drone practices among its member agencies.

The group’s annual conference and its smaller, regional events allow members to brush up on their training, earn a needed certificate and discuss the challenges common among all public safety agency drone programs, Karr said.

Among the challenges facing police drone programs is establishing and maintaining the public’s trust.  Making sure the program is operated in a transparent manner, as well as making sure that the controlling agency has a robust community outreach program, are vital components toward securing the public’s buy-in, crucial to allowing police drone programs to operate, he said.

“We talk about how to make sure that you’re doing proper reporting. We talk about federal, state and local laws … to make sure that we all are utilizing drones in a manner that the community would promote,” Karr said. It’s important that the public understands the rules that public service agency drone programs follow to protect the public’s privacy. Another community relations goal is “making sure that everybody understands where we can and cannot fly, when we need a warrant and when do we not need a warrant.”

Another pressing issue facing many public safety drone programs is the rising call by state legislators to ban the agencies from flying drones produces by DJI or other China-based companies. Such bans, instituted to ensure that data collected by American public safety drones does not wind up in the possession of the Chinese communist party, could prove problematic for agencies that have already established UAS fleets, composed primarily or totally of China-based drones.

In Florida, a ban on the use by public service agencies of drones made in “countries of concern” went into effect in April. This put police and fire departments, and some other state agencies, which had already spent approximately $200 million on DJI and other Chinese drones, in a pickle.  (Read the Florida law here.)

The Florida state legislature has sought to soften the blow by allocating $25 million to help public service agencies replace their Chinese-made drones with those from an American or other approved manufacturer.

Karr said LEDA is encouraging its members to lobby the legislatures in their respective states to seek other measures to protect the security of drone-collected data, short of so-called “country of origin” bans.

“We don’t want what happened in Florida to happen again. We understand the concern in utilizing Chinese equipment, but there are better pathways that we can take that it would safeguard our data,” he said. He suggested that other steps that states could take might include mandating the use of third-party flight software for China-made drones, or requiring the installation of onboard computers that allow the drones to be flown completely offline.

Among the other topics discussed at the Bender conference was “Case Law/Search and Seizure for UAS.” As is the case with other educational topics, Karr said LEDA’s instructional sessions try to set a basic standard for searches and seizures, which are applicable in every jurisdiction, regardless of variables in state and local regulations.  “When it comes to providing a standard, you need to have a minimum requirement,” he said. “We try to teach it to where you obviously need to double check with your state, local laws, and then you have to fly in accordance with those.”

In addition to its annual conference in Bend, LEDA also holds regional conferences and training sessions throughout the year. The next regional conference is scheduled to be held in Pearland, Texas, January 31 and February 1, 2024.

Read more:

Jim Magill is a Houston-based writer with almost a quarter-century of experience covering technical and economic developments in the oil and gas industry. After retiring in December 2019 as a senior editor with S&P Global Platts, Jim began writing about emerging technologies, such as artificial intelligence, robots and drones, and the ways in which they’re contributing to our society. In addition to DroneLife, Jim is a contributor to and his work has appeared in the Houston Chronicle, U.S. News & World Report, and Unmanned Systems, a publication of the Association for Unmanned Vehicle Systems International.

Restrictions, Regulations, and Revenue: Going to Market with Emerging Technologies

GTM Propeller regulations revenueThe first in an occasional column on bringing products to market in emerging technologies, by industry marketing expert Amy T. Wiegand: Go-to-Market Propeller.  

Continue reading below, or listen:

DroneLife recently highlighted feedback to our top-of-mind question, How will the FAA enable the next generation of flight – including what the FAA plans for drone integration – and what will happen with Remote ID.

Commercial Drone Alliance Executive Director and Leader of the Global UAS Practice, Lisa Ellman, began a recent keynote by acknowledging industry frustration with the FAA processes and rulemaking, which has seemed to stall around issues such as flying beyond visual line of sight (BVLOS) and type certification.

“We all are here because we share a common goal,” said Ellman.  “…The advancement of drone technology benefits all Americans.”

Ellman went on to outline critical steps the government can take in the next few months.

We realize our industry is not the first to be affected by regulations and restrictions, and when regulations restrict business development, it can be challenging. What can we do, and how do we lead our teams to participate in constructive action that will help us with our goal – profitability?

10 revenue-generating action items that are a must for every leadership team:

1. Educate your audiences

Understanding how regulations and restrictions affect our business is paramount, and helping our audience understand is essential. Explaining how regs affect our customers’ business is crucial to helping them understand the impact of the solutions we provide. We also want to educate our internal teams, especially our ambassadors for public relations – investors, executives, and the revenue generation teams – customer success, community engagement, product, marketing, business development, and sales. Partner with your internal teams and other businesses with similar goals to share resources and knowledge on compliance and revenue generation strategies.

Revenue generation teams are no longer siloed to the sales team. When executing strategies, envelop and align all internal teams who “touch and influence the customer.” Bring customer success, community engagement, product, marketing, business development, and sales together so they are champions of the regulation story that aligns with your brand. When we do this at the onset, we can drive outcomes faster and more efficiently. Aligning these teams is crucial to understanding regs, and that alignment becomes a winning foundation for team ownership, furthering adoption partners and ultimately improving profitability while waiting for regulations.

2. Invest in media & public relations

Start by training internal teams on how to speak about regulations and restrictions in our industry with State, Local, Tribal, Territorial (SLTT), and federal governments. Help them understand the solutions available today, the strategies in place, and the goals that can support meeting the customer where they need to be today and tomorrow. Founders and executives who champion the brand story and help lead strategy with their revenue generation teams will create a higher-velocity action plan.

    • Know the press – Build relationships with the press. Understand the media outlets that are right for your business objectives. The fastest way to build success with the press is to hire an in-house public relations specialist or contract a professional media firm. Reporters receive hundreds of submissions per day. Newsworthy articles selected are a matter of the current press cycle, news that is worthy, subject lines, and relationship building.
    • Exercise publicity – Build a positive public image. Take a stance and confidently speak to it on your website blog; submit for speaking engagements; and seek leadership-authored industry news articles. Help regulators with research and development and share that analysis to help educate audiences. Create or co-create progress-driven publicity with data and results from research and development initiatives.
    • Utilize social media – Social media platforms can be the most effective public relations play for your business. Tailor your stance to the best channels for your audiences. Be dedicated to the right messaging by knowing the audiences served and then offer value – awareness, educational development, and customer solutions.

3. Explore diverse revenue streams – Explore opportunities for diversification. Diversifying is not easy when it comes to the business of National Airspace (NAS) regulations. However, several leading companies have done this well by implementing go-to-market strategies for service or product-market-fit in the early stages of their development. If you haven’t, it’s not too late. Research the market and pivot from a heavily regulated niche while you continue to prepare and remain engaged in your ultimate pursuit. Ask what problem your customer needs to solve now. Find that niche and commit. If your business is exceptionally good at compliance and adheres to higher standards than required, use it as a selling point. It will build trust with customers.

4. Deploy digital & content marketing – Utilizing online marketing strategies to reach a wider audience without geographical limitations is beneficial to broadening the conversation and collaboration. Beyond SEO, social media, and blogging – video and podcasting are tools that need to be used to drive awareness to your business today. Create channels, menus, and playlists dedicated to addressing regulations and restrictions.

5. Identify customer partnerships – Engage customers for support to shape a positive public perspective. A customer advocacy strategy prioritizes the customer experience. When cultivating advocates, we create brand advocacy that drives brand growth. Adding how regulations and restrictions affect our customers’ growth to our strategies keeps us focused on what we can achieve in the short and long term. It’s paramount to continuously gather feedback too: you can adjust our revenue generation strategies based on customer needs.

6. Invest in community relationships – Ensure you have a community engagement strategy to support compliance with SLTT and federal governments. The effort you add to community involvement may be of the greatest importance to your short and long-term revenue generation goals. Commit to this team’s alignment across departments for the best outcomes.

Matt Beatty, Principal Consultant with Advanced Aviation Alignment, has spent the last decade in-market educating community stakeholders on NAS initiatives.

Beatty states, “The markets that are targeted for expansion with advanced drone technologies, do not have a cookie-cutter script that effectively resonates with the diversity of stakeholders required to realize the promised benefits of employing those technologies. Every community is a mosaic of needs and challenges. Operators must understand and address those needs within the scope of existing regulations and with an eye on where the regulatory environment will unlock those promised benefits in a horizon that justifies the focus, investment, and engagement of municipalities, counties, and regional transportation planning authorities – like metropolitan planning authorities (MPOs). Whether it’s drone medical deliveries to mobility challenges or the economic and workforce development impacts on jobs created, there needs to be an integrated plan that understands the voices and desired goals of those distinct communities. Successful implementation and integration rely on creating frameworks that will continuously engage with and incorporate State, Local, Tribal, and Territorial (SLTT) governance and community-based interest groups to make sure the technology is tailored and employed in a way that responds to public needs. The best starting point I’ve reviewed in helping to categorize those public needs (and the regulatory and industry corresponding focus) has been NASA’s AAM Community Integration Considerations Playbook. The goal is an ongoing dialog with community stakeholders to ensure technologies are employed in a way that aligns with the diverse and evolving needs of these communities.”

7. Join advocacy organizations  – Join industry associations or advocacy groups that work toward regulatory changes that benefit your business. A collective voice is impactful with policymakers. The drone industry is fortunate to have several: AMA, AUVSI, Commercial Drone Alliance, DRONERESPONDERS, the Drone Advocacy Group, the Drone Service Providers Alliance, and GUTMA.

8. Commit to social responsibility – Support charitable causes that benefit from your services or products gaining regulatory compliance. Giving back and championing a cause that will benefit from your business thriving is always a good idea. Also, leading with environmental, sustainable, and governing compliance, better known as ESG, provides value to everyone involved.

9. Seek legal counsel – Consult with legal experts who specialize in our industry to find out if there are any public relations and marketing considerations that are prohibitive when publicizing regulatory matters. Many in our industry have done this successfully. Creating a strategy to implement how your revenue generation team needs to evolve legally is important.

10. Monitor, adapt & communicate – Staying updated on regulatory changes, adapting our business objectives and strategies, and communicating with our teams accordingly is key to sustainable growth.

While generating revenue in a regulated environment has its challenges, it’s essential to know our audiences, align teams to drive successful public relations initiatives and profitability, adopt customer and ecosystem partnerships, commit to community strategies for unique stakeholders, get involved in social responsibility, and maintain brand integrity by consulting with legal experts to keep all revenue generation teams and initiatives compliant.

Amy T. Wiegand is a go-to-market professional, having worked with the best of tech start-ups and notables like Walmart, The Coca-Cola Company, NATO, UPS, local, state, and federal governments, colleges and universities, top ad agencies, and more. She has realized revenue generation growth throughout her career and champions brand management, pipeline strategy, organizational process and implementation, content, product and digital marketing, public and investor relations – and profitability. Amy is also a project architect and master director, having developed award-winning programs in aviation and UAS in public safety, special military, and commercial drone operations. Amy was the first person to facilitate a sUAS training program for The State of Virginia in 2014 and is an enthusiastic leader of STEM initiatives. Connect with Amy on LinkedIn. X:@amytwiegand

FAA Authorization Runs Out on September 30 – and the Government May Shut Down. What Happens Then?

who will replace Billy Nolen Acting Administrator FAAIt’s a double-whammy for the FAA.  As Congress seems no closer to a deal that would avert a government shutdown in the U.S., an FAA Reauthorization package – the tax bill that funds the FAA – has also stalled for too long in the Senate.

Continue reading below, or listen:

The 5 year FAA Reauthorization Bill of 2018 runs out on September 30.  Now, the Senate has linked a 3 month extension of FAA Reauthorization to a package that would avert a government shutdown: one that is unlikely to pass in the House.  The House is working on a separate package which might extend FAA Reauthorization. (And it goes without saying that confirming a permanent leader at the FAA  – the current nominee is former FAA deputy Mike Whitaker – isn’t happening right now.)

If all efforts to extend the funding of the FAA and/or avert a government shutdown fail before midnight tomorrow – and they may – what happens then?

Essential Employees Will Work Without Pay: Everyone Else Gets Furloughed

The primary responsibility of the FAA is to keep the air traffic in the United States running safely.  To that end, essential employees such as air traffic controllers will still have to show up for work – but they’ll be unpaid, a situation devastating for families and guaranteed to cause problems.   Air traffic control trainees will be sent home.  TSA agents are goverment employees and if the government shuts down, they will also be required to work without pay.  During the government shutdown of 2018-19, critical staff eventually  stopped showing up for work, causing major delays at airports.

Non-essential workers at the FAA will be furloughed.  If the FAA authorization runs out coincidentally with a government shutdown, more than 17,000 workers would be furloughed, the Washington Post reports.

For the drone industry, that could mean that the already stretched team that works with the industry to grant waivers, authorizations, and move complex operations forward will not be available.  Will advanced aviation be considered essential when the shutdown comes?

Taxes, Funding, Training, and More

In addition to the devastating effect that effectively closing critical federal functions will have on the entire aviation ecosystem, the lapse in FAA authorization will mean that the agency cannot collect taxes: the ticket tax, gas tax, international travel tax, etc – which are estimated at almost $140 million per day.  Airport improvements stop.  Training of new employees – a big push for the FAA, facing a shortage of air traffic controllers – also stops.  The rippling effects of an FAA lapse in authorization are huge: combined with a government shutdown, the effects could last long after the current spat in Congress is resolved.

Read more:

Public Safety Drone Review: How Police in the UK Utilize Drone Technology

National Police Chiefs Council Drone Portfolio, DRONELIFE DRONERESPONDERS Public Safety Drone Review

Photo © Lewis Clarke (cc-by-sa/2.0)

National Police Chiefs’ Council Drone Portfolio, on the Next Public Safety Drone Review! Tuesday, October 3 at 3:00 PM ET

Continue reading below, or listen:

Public Safety Drone Review, Tuesday October 3 at 3PM ET. Register here.

Stuart Lawless National Police Chiefs Council Drone PortfolioThis month, hosts Timothy Martin and Miriam McNabb review the latest news stories about drones in public safety, first response, fire and police with our guest Stuart Lawless of the National Police Chiefs’ Council in the U.K.  Our guest will then speak and answer questions about the current landscape in U.K.drone regulations, developing standards for public safety drone use, and how police in London and the U.K. are using drone technology to keep communities safe.

Stuart Lawless has more than a decade of experience as a police officer in the U.K., now working full-time for the National Police Chiefs’ Council Drone Portfolio. The NPCC Drones portfolio is working to help UK police forces to be at the leading edge of public safety drone operations, with nationally standardized drone training and procedures.  Stuart has been instrumental to develop standard operational guidelines, authorization templates, and more tools for the public safety community.

Whether you are an active member of the public safety community using drones, interested in getting started, or a stakeholder in public safety drone technology, join us for this free, monthly event.