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?

Skyward headquarters have always been in Portland, and we believe in supporting our local community and being good neighbors. Our main office is in downtown Portland and our team members live across the metro area, including in North Portland. We’ll be testing drone integrations for civilian commercial use cases including agricultural research, powerline inspections, natural disaster response, and wildfire prevention.

Skyward will not be testing surveillance technology at this site. Skyward does not have military contracts.

The industrial site on N. Bradford provides crucial river access for a range of drone flights that will allow our crew to monitor the drones and test our systems from support boats. It will also allow us to improve access to an important historical area for community members and invest in ecological restoration.

We’re grateful for the opportunity to partner with Black, Indigenous, and People of Color (BIPOC) community members and leaders to share the historical significance of the property, which is near the landing site of the explorer York, the first African American to see Oregon, who was enslaved by William Clark. As stewards of this site, we are committed to sharing and amplifying York’s story.

We also believe in supporting our fellow Portlanders economically by patronizing local restaurants, food carts, and other small businesses, just as we have done in our downtown locations.

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?

The Aviation Development Center (ADC) is a group of military veterans, professional pilots, and operations experts, led by X (they/them) a military veteran fleet commander and computer science expert. The mission of the ADC is to test and validate software and system integrations for drones. Examples of integrations we might test include:
  • 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.

Noise abatement

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? 

Drones are a tool that help companies and public agencies do their work. Many companies invest in drones to support worker safety. Working at height is dangerous, and drones enable crews to detect problems with their feet on the ground.

Today drones are used primarily for mapping and modeling, as well as a wide range of inspections, including power lines, wind turbines, bridges, buildings, roofs, shorelines, and post-disaster recovery efforts.
A well-trained and professional drone crew is an asset to any community.

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).
Drones are also subject to local privacy and noise ordinances, which vary by jurisdiction.

Updated: 10/31/2020
Updated: 11/4/2020