Why North Portland?
We chose the North Bradford Industrial site because it is zoned for industrial uses and it’s important to us to invest in our community and be part of an actual neighborhood with restaurants and other businesses within walking distance. The Aviation Development Center requires proper zoning as well as river access, and this site has both. In addition, many light industrial sites in the metro area are located within controlled airspace, and this site is not.
Is this a military partnership or military test site?
No, this is not a military drone testing facility. Skyward does not have military contracts. We are testing commercial drone use cases like commercial construction, transmission line inspection, and natural disaster response. We are not testing surveillance technology or facial recognition technology.
Will the drones be spying on me?
No. We are testing commercial use cases for infrastructure inspection - we are not testing surveillance technology. As with all other elements of our operations, we are committed to compliance and operational best practices. We believe that illegal surveillance is unethical. We are working to develop internal best practices related to privacy and intend to provide extra and recurring training on privacy to our crews.
Why do you need river access?
The river gives us the ability to safely test drone flights while our crew monitors the drone and tests systems from our boats. This is the best and safest way to test drone flights because it provides unobstructed visibility, allows our pilots and crews to operate without the hazard of a busy roadway, and without the inconvenience to residents of street closures.
Is this endangering the falcons?
We’ve retained independent third party falcon experts to advise on the stand-off distances and flight paths for drone operations to ensure we aren’t harming the falcons. We’ll be conducting ongoing surveying and crew training to ensure that we create the lowest impact over the long term.
Are the drones noisy?
Drones are among the quietest aircraft. Although models show that the sound they produce is well within Portland’s city code limits, we have hired a sound consultant to work on a detailed model, and we will be installing a sound-management system. We are evolving our standard operating procedures to mitigate noise, as well. In addition, the drone manufacturers we work with are investing in noise-mitigating technology.
Is this bringing jobs to Portland?
Skyward is a Portland grown company and since we opened our headquarters in 2015, we’ve brought more than 80 jobs to Portland. The Aviation Development Center is a team of about a dozen and plans to double or triple that number over the years. We believe in supporting the communities where we work. In addition to the environmental restoration and road improvements, that also means supporting local restaurants, coffee shops, and stores.
How is this improving the area?
The building additions to the ADC land include modular, temporary structures with minimal impact to the land. We’ve made a large investment in minimally invasive, innovative structures. We’ve also planned for a large replanting effort that includes:
- 30+ willows
- Total of 300 shrubs to include: Sitka Willow, Western Serviceberry, Oceanspray, Mock Orange, Thimbleberry, Common Snowberry, and Red Currant
- All selected plants have been identified as native species as outlined by the City of Portland.
- The planting plan was designed to best meet the Willamette River Greenway goals of providing a riparian habitat and aesthetic vegetation buffer between the industrial site and the river.
- Proposed improvement of the roadway will lie between the railroad tracks and the right-of-way easement along the property line.
- The proposed small access road would be uniformly finished to a width of 20 feet from the railroad crossing at North Baltimore Avenue to the entrance of the North Portland site.
This is a historical site - how will you make sure this is honored?
Skyward is reaching out to Black, Indigenous, and People of Color community members, organizations, and leaders to learn how they’d like to see the history of this land honored. We’re committed to facilitating community dialogue and financially investing in ensuring this story is told and led by community leaders.