Update 11/4/2020: Skyward has ended our discussions with the Port of Portland regarding the North Bradford location. During the course of our discussions with the Port, we discovered other locations that would provide more immediate operational use. Pursuing those will enable us to more quickly advance commercial drone operations for our customers, innovate, and bring high-quality tech jobs to the Portland area.
Why does Skyward want to create a site in North Portland?
Who is Skyward?
Skyward is a company of computer scientists, pilots, and innovators. We were founded in 2012 at the University of Oregon MBA program and our headquarters is in downtown Portland. Skyward’s goal has always been to help companies fly safely and efficiently, and advocate for regulations that protect the National Airspace. We provide software, training, and consulting services to companies that want to use drones commercially. Skyward doesn’t manufacture drones.
In 2017, we were acquired by Verizon. Verizon field technicians use drones to inspect telecommunications infrastructure. Our crew is highly trained and professional, and a high level of planning and coordination goes into each flight to ensure safety, regulatory compliance, and our reputations as expert pilots.
What does Skyward do?
Skyward’s software platform enables companies to oversee their pilots, equipment, and flights, and easily understand airspace regulations. Our experts train teams and help companies start and grow safe drone programs that operate efficiently and follow rules and regulations.
We’re also building and testing the technologies and integrations needed to connect drones to wireless networks in partnership with our Verizon Network coworkers—that’s what we plan on doing at the North Bradford industrial site.
What is Skyward's Aviation Development Center?
- Drones integrating with Skyward’s airspace map in order to automatically comply with airspace regulations
- Remote Identification so public agencies can identify if drones are properly registered and allowed to fly (commonly called “a digital license plate for drones”)
- Drones connected to the wireless network to quickly share data back to first responders and field technicians after a natural disaster.
Skyward is committed to being good neighbors
We’re also Portlanders, we take pride in our community, and it’s important to us as individuals and as a business to have positive and friendly relationships with our neighbors. We understand that protecting the local falcon population and noise are among the community’s top concerns.
Protecting the falcons
We have hired a wildlife consultant and falcon expert to help us refine no-fly zones and operational boundaries to ensure the falcons are not harmed by drone operations. We are prepared to adjust our operations at any time if it turns out we’re interfering with them.
We are committed to noise abatement and complying with city ordinances. For the North Bradford site, the limit is 75 dBA from 7am to 10pm. Reduced to 70 dBA from 10:01 pm to 6:59 am.
Our crew is highly trained and professional, and a high level of planning and coordination goes into each flight to ensure safety, regulatory compliance, and our reputations as expert pilots. We’ve hired noise consultants to evaluate our drones and help us create best practices and flight planning for noise abatement.
What are the benefits of drones?
- For example, here in Portland, a local engineering company is using drones to inspect the roofs for Portland Public Schools, saving time and money and ensuring the buildings are safe for children.
- Skyward recently flew drones to inspect critical communications infrastructure for Verizon that was threatened by the Big Hollow Wildfire.
- Fire fighters are using drones to identify hot spots before they send crews into buildings.
- Drones are also a critical tool for search and rescue; one Skyward customer volunteered their crews and drones to support their community in the successful search for a missing child.
- Skyward customer Embry Riddle Aeronautical University is partnering with marine biologists to use drones in research and conservation efforts for seals.
How are commercial drones governed? What are the rules?
Commercial drones in the United States are highly regulated. Drones used by businesses and companies are often called “commercial drones” to distinguish them from drones flown for fun, which we call “hobbyist drones.” Commercial drones are regulated by the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) under a rule called Part 107 (learn more at FAA.gov/uas).
To be a commercial drone pilot, you must pass a Part 107 exam and abide by the regulations. You must get additional special permission from the FAA in order to conduct certain types of flights including:
- flights over people
- flights at night
- flights beyond the line of sight of the operator
- flights over 400 ft
- flights in certain areas of controlled airspace (near airports).