To Our Stakeholders, Customers, Partners, and Industry:
Airspace Link has had remarkable growth and success in the past two years as we’ve pursued our vision to create a world where the safe integration of drones fuels human progress, advancing social equity, the environment, and the economy. The Airspace Link mission is to safely integrate drones into the national airspace and communities at scale through digital infrastructure, strategic partnerships, and thought leadership.
Throughout this incredible journey, we’ve learned a lot and could not be more excited about where the industry and our company are heading. We’ve entered a phase in our company where we’d like to clarify our position on important topics within the industry to make sure all of our stakeholders understand our vision and our mission, and how they guide the product, features and services decisions we make, and stances we take.
Why do we use terms like highways in the sky or drone corridors?
When Airspace Link first began its journey, the team spent a lot of time with government and commercial stakeholders exploring the concept of drone infrastructure. An easy way to discuss the concept was to refer to the routes generated by our technology and data as “highways in the sky.” These suggested routes include efficient paths that factor in detailed ground hazards, airspace characteristics, and other safety inputs.
Confusion has grown as the industry scales and regulation changes. Our use of “highways in the sky” has been meant to illustrate the idea but was interpreted by some audiences as a mandate on the “only” places drones can fly. To be very clear, our system uses static and dynamic data sets and analytical models best suited to help drone operators based on their specific operational plans and current or forecasted conditions ensure they are flying in compliance with regulations while giving them additional risk data to inform their journeys – not to mandate or limit capabilities.
Airspace Link is managing 50+ static and dynamic datasets to ensure flights are in compliance with regulations in real-time. Sometimes drones can’t fly safely or legally in specific areas due to communication network availability, special events, Temporary Flight Restrictions (TFRs), air traffic changes, airspace characteristics, and weather and traffic data. These corridors are constantly updating based on both the base static data and dynamically changing data in the platform.
If this sounds complicated, frankly it’s because it is, but it’s our mission to make it easy to plan and approve optimal flight plans in real-time.
What about Toll Roads in the Sky?
This is another similar topic we’ve run into. Some state and local jurisdictions have begun to invest in drone or “UAS” infrastructure to enable safe Beyond Visual Line of Sight (BVLOS) operations that can be accessed by private industry. It’s the same concept as toll roads on the ground – you don’t have to utilize them but it’s often the fastest, smoothest, and the most efficient route. This is especially the case for commercial BVLOS and advanced operations, which will require trusted, secure infrastructure for ensuring safe operations, which is shared use to benefit many types of operations. To be clear, this is in reference to advanced operations and is not targeted at recreational and part 107 operations. This infrastructure is designed to support compliance and safety for UAS integration with manned aircraft.
The FAA is actively working on enabling BVLOS through a rulemaking process, which is currently in an Aviation Rulemaking Committee (ARC). The current system of waivers is insufficient to meet the demands of a growing industry and a set of BVLOS rules from the FAA will be required for the investment to be returned.
Airspace Link aims to provide this type of infrastructure if a community decides to invest in it to encourage safer drone usage and increased opportunities for scaled operations in their area. We believe this will help the drone industry grow safely and in harmony with the community.
Will recreational and Part 107 operators be charged to fly on your platform?
We do not charge our pilots to fly on AirHub™ for Pilots. Going back to our mission, we’re here to enable the safe integrations of drones and understand how important the individual pilots are in that process. As such we are investing in the community of individual pilots by providing AirHub™ for Pilots at no cost and have no plans to charge for simple flight authorization services.
As we expand our capabilities, we envision the possibility of pilots requiring additional tools beyond simple flight authorizations if they are planning advanced operations. To access advanced services, the pilot can decide if they’d like to purchase them. Think of it as Lite and Premium versions as the concept, but we’re not quite there yet.
What is Airspace Link’s position on Avigation Easements?
First, let’s clarify what Avigation Easements are. “According to USLegal.com, an avigation easement is an “easement or right of overflight in the airspace above or in the vicinity of a particular property. It also includes the right to create such noise or other effects as may result from the lawful operation of aircraft in such airspace and the right to remove any obstructions to such overflight.”
We agree with AUVSI and CTA concerns that avigation easements have the potential to curtail industry and potentially decrease the effectiveness of drone operations. When we go back to our mission, we’re here to support the safe integration of drones at scale to unlock their potential social and economic benefits. Because of that, we don’t support Avigation Easements, but our system can adapt if they come in place to help manage them as a factor when flying a drone in these areas.
We do not advocate for Avigation Law as we see a better path to address the concerns through opening opportunities of collaboration between the FAA, Operators, State and Local governments, and property owners that benefit all parties.
We hope that helps clarify our position on some of these intricate topics. We’re also making a commitment to communicate with our audiences more directly in regular blog posts to share what we’re working on, celebrate success in the industry, and answer any questions you may have. We encourage you to reach out any time with topics you’d like us to share more on email@example.com.
With that, we hope this was helpful and look forward to continued dialogue.
Co-Founder, President & CEO