Need a COA? Or Help Creating SOPs for Your Drone Program? Skydio Has a Service for That
BY Zacc Dukowitz29 November 2022
If you’ve had trouble navigating drone regulations or are working to build a drone program—or both—Skydio may be able to help.
The company known for its autonomous Skydio 2+ recently launched a business line called Skydio Regulatory Services. Its focus is on providing support for two distinct but interconnected needs that any organization or company that wants to use drones has—Program Documentation services and Waiver Application services.
Though Skydio is based in the U.S., these services aren’t just available for U.S. companies. In addition to working with the FAA, Skydio has worked with Civil Aviation Authorities in other parts of the world, and is bringing all of these global experiences to bear in the support it’s now offering clients located anywhere in the world.
Drone Program Documentation
A common path for companies when they start using UAVs is that an employee who already flies drones will point out how they could be valuable to the company.
Over time, the employee naturally becomes both the advocate and the person implementing the use of drones at the company. They might bring in a drone and start using it for spot-checks, for example, capturing visual data of places you couldn’t otherwise reach without scaffolding or ropes.
But this organic path toward adopting drones at a company doesn’t dovetail well with the complicated reality of building a drone program. Going from showing how drones could be useful to an organization to actually using them can be a long process, and there are lots of potential pitfalls along the way.
Ideally, when a company first starts becoming interested in using drones they would start by identifying all the accountabilities and documentation that should be considered, covering things like:
- Compliance. Ensuring that all pilots are FAA certified to fly drones commercially and/or that you have secured a COA if you’re a public safety organization.
- Safety. Ensuring all pilots are properly trained and aware of company safety protocols.
- Documentation. Creating SOPs for pre-flight, flight, and post-flight procedures, battery maintenance, drone storage, flight logging, and incident reporting.
- Asset tracking. Tracking the location and maintenance history for drone hardware and accessories + ensuring proper care for the above
And this is just the beginning. Training itself is a big area of consideration, and creating a robust training program can require dozens or even hundreds of hours.
Here are a few free resources to help you get started if you’re looking for guidance with building a drone program:
- [ARTICLE] An Introductory Guide to Establishing a Professional Drone Program in Your Company
- [WEBINAR] How to Build and Scale a Drone Program at Your Company
If, after looking into it, you decide you need help, then Skydio’s services may be a good place to start your research into paid support.
According to Skydio, it has several packages of templates and guidebooks that were developed by aviation industry experts, which you can access through its new service.
Skydio is offering three tiers of support for its Program Documentation services, which you can choose based on your need. Here’s an overview:
In addition to creating your drone program, you also need to have permission to fly—and that’s where support with waivers comes into the picture.
Of course, not all commercial drone operations will require special permissions. But it’s likely that, especially at larger companies, some kind of waiver may be required for your operations, and this is especially true as drone technology gets more sophisticated and its potential use cases move more toward autonomy.
One example is using drone-in-a-box (DIB) solutions for continuous monitoring.
Percepto’s drone-in-a-box solutions
DIBs can sit in charging stations, also called docks or nests, deploy autonomously to collect aerial data, and return to their stations, all without the need for a pilot to be present.
[Related read: Skydio to Unveil New Dock and Remote Ops Platform for Autonomous Missions]
But just because they can do this doesn’t mean a company is allowed to use them this way without a BVLOS (Beyond Visual Line of Sight) waiver and possibly a waiver for flying over people. And this is where things can get complicated for companies that are trying to employ cutting edge drone technology to improve their operations.
Here are a few free resources to help you get started if you’re looking for guidance with waivers and airspace authorizations:
- [ARTICLE] Are Your Waiver & Airspace Authorization Applications Getting Turned Down? Here’s Why
- [ARTICLE] How to Get a Part 107 BVLOS Waiver
- [ARTICLE] How To Request FAA Airspace Authorization For Class B, C, D, And E Controlled Airspace: A Guide to LAANC and the FAA Drone Zone Web Portal
If the waiver application process seems too involved or complicated and you’d like to go the paid route, Skydio may again be a good place to start your research.
Why? Because Skydio has experience working with clients to secure BVLOS waivers, most notably in its win for Dominion Energy to use Skydio drones for BVLOS inspection flights at its power plants in seven different states.
Getting a waiver can be a long process, requiring multiple meetings and detailed documentation. So it could be helpful to have a guide in the process, assuming you have the budget for it.
As with its Program Documentation services, Skydio is offering its Waiver Application services in tiers:
Want to learn more about Skydio Regulatory Services? Watch this interview with Jenn Player, Senior Director of Regulatory Affairs at Skydio.