How to Run a Commercial Drone Program: An Interview with Skyward Co-Founder Eric Ringer

When Skyward launched the first information management solution for drone operators back in the fall of 2015, we were pretty excited.

Why? Because we’d been working closely with a lot of you in the commercial sUAS business, and hearing that you really needed a tool that would help you organize, manage, track, and document the incredibly large amounts of data being collected by your drones.

Enter Skyward.

As you know, the drone industry has been growing like crazy over the last few years, and growth means opportunity.

But growth also means that, where drone pilots once faced a scarcity of options, they’re now overwhelmed with choices when it comes to which platform to choose and how best to manage their commercial operations. (One other thing growth means is that some companies just aren’t going to make it—check out our recent post, 3D Robotics’ Cautionary Tale: Losing the Hardware Game to China and Pivoting to Software for Survival).

Recently we sat down with Skyward Co-Founder Eric Ringer to learn more about what Skyward does to help sUAS commercial operators run their businesses. It was a great conversation, and really helped us wrap our minds around all of the factors that need to be considered when setting up a commercial drone program, and the ways that Skyward provides support for both “solopreneurs” (i.e., drone operators working for themselves) and for big businesses.

Now without further ado, let’s move on to the interview itself.

How to Run a Commercial Drone Program with Skyward

You can watch the full interview below, or scroll down to see our key takeaways, with links to specific portions of the interview.

Key Takeaways and Topics of Interest

  • 0:22 — Operationalizing your sUAS business, and what it means to do so
  • 5:02 — Airspace research, and defining your flight area
  • 17:43 — Organizing an operation
  • 21:27 — Tracking pilot hours and FAA certification (for operations with multiple pilots)
  • 24:12 — Operational summary report, for accounting (for bigger commercial operations)
  • 25:13 — Common mistakes/challenges, and possible solutions
  • 28:18 — Using Pilot Finder to find pilots, and setting up your Pilot Finder profile to find work a pilot

Alan Perlman

Founder at UAV Coach
Alan is an FAA-certified drone pilot and founded UAV Coach in 2014 to help connect drone enthusiasts, to provide world-class sUAS industry training courses, and to help push the drone community forward with a focus on safety and commercial opportunities.

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