In the last few years AirMap has become a household name in the drone industry.
You may have learned about AirMap when they became one of the first companies to offer instant airspace authorization via LAANC.
Since then, their focus has broadened from being an airspace intelligence platform—essentially a digitized database for all things airspace—to being one of the leading providers of UTM (Unmanned Traffic Management) in the world through their UTM platform.
[UTM refers to complex systems created to manage drone traffic. Read this article on UTM to learn what it is and why it’s crucial to the future of the drone industry.]
Over time, AirMap has made several strategic partnerships to drive the adoption of their technology.
Some of these partnerships were with companies like Kittyhawk and DroneDeploy, which wanted to offer LAANC authorizations through their own flight ops management tools—either to customers, in the case of Kittyhawk, or to freelance pilots they employed, in the case of DroneDeploy—without developing their own platform.
But more recently AirMap’s partnerships have shifted to focus on companies who work in various areas related to UTM, including air traffic management, remote ID, and CUAS, with the ambitious aim of working toward the creation of a functioning global UTM framework.
AirMap’s Six Recent UTM-Related Partnerships
In the last three months AirMap has been on a partnership streak—in March alone the company announced five new partnerships, with another one following this month.
Here are the six companies AirMap has partnered with in the last three months, with information on how each partnership contributes to the development and adoption of UTM.
Just this month, AirMap announced a strategic partnership with Raytheon, a huge defense systems company with a big presence in airports all over the U.S. According to a statement issued by AirMap, the focus of the partnership is the safe integration of drones into the national airspace—i.e., UTM in the U.S.
And Raytheon has the reach to help make this happen. The company’s Standard Terminal Automation Replacement System (STARS) is used by over 40,000 manned aircraft every day, providing them with safe and efficient spacing and sequencing guidance.
According to a statement issed by AirMap, the partnership with Raytheon combines the two companies’ expertise:
- Raytheon’s Standard Terminal Automation Replacement System, or STARS, is used by air traffic controllers across the U.S. to provide safe and efficient aircraft spacing and sequencing guidance for more than 40,000 departing and arriving aircraft daily at both civilian and military airports.
- AirMap is the leading global provider of airspace intelligence for UAS operations, with over 250,000 registered users. In 2018, the majority of U.S. registered commercial drone pilots used AirMap to request over 45,000 automated authorizations to fly in controlled airspace.
Air Navigation Service of the Czech Republic (ANS CR)
In March of this year, AirMap announced a partnership with ANS CR to launch Smart Sky, described by AirMap as “a nationwide strategy for using UAS in the Czech Republic”—i.e., UTM in the Czech Republic.
Through Smart Sky, drone pilots in the Czech Republic can use a mobile app powered by AirMap to access Europe’s U-space (the name for Europe’s UTM framework). The app is available in Czech.
The Czech Republic is among the global first movers in the race to capture a share of the tremendous opportunity that drones represent as they become more a part of our everyday lives.
– Ben Marcus, Co-Founder of AirMap
In the announcement of this partnership, AirMap shared plans to develop a fully operational UTM system with ANS CR by 2020 through Smart Sky that will include:
- E-registration and e-identification
- Pre-tactical geofencing and flight planning
- Automated and manual digital airspace authorization
- Real-time traffic alerts and live drone telemetry
- Connectivity and communication between drone pilots and airspace administrators
In March of this year, AirMap announced a partnership with Swiss air navigation service provider Skyguide to test automated airspace authorizations in Swiss airspace using the same LAANC-based approach used in the U.S. for instant airspace authorizations.
As part of the test a group of drone pilots in Switzerland have been allowed to request automated and manual flight authorizations to fly in airspaces in Lugano and Geneva through the Skyguide U-space mobile application.
In a pilot phase starting in June 2018, Skyguide and AirMap plan to integrate the AirMap UTM platform with Skyguide’s infrastructure and introduce automated flight authorization in a single airspace environment. Skyguide and AirMap will also develop a roadmap for Swiss U-space that will set the stage for the deployment of a fully operational drone traffic management system in 2019 and beyond.
– AirMap Statement
In March of this year, AirMap announced a partnership with Honeywell to develop a low-cost, light-weight, reliable communications hardware component to ensure that drones can maintain communications with UTM systems while in flight.
The new communication tool created through this partnership is intended to allow drone pilots to broadcast real-time drone telemetry feeds to a UTM system, either through 4G or, in areas without 4G coverage, satellite.
One of the goals for this technology is to leverage it to support BVLOS (Beyond Visual Line of Sight) operations.
In March of this year, AirMap announced a partnership with INDRA, one of the top two providers of air traffic management systems in the entire world—based in Spain, INDRA has a presence in a whopping 160+ countries.
In a statement issued at the time, AirMap shared that the express purpose of teaming up with INDRA was to accelerate the adoption of UTM technology throughout the world.
Drones are a worldwide phenomena—the good things we hear and the challenges that we hear about drones are happening everywhere. This partnership [with INDRA] will help spread UTM technology rapidly around the globe.
– David Hose, CEO of AirMap
In March of this year, AirMap announced a partnership with Fortem Technologies, a Counter-UAS (CUAS) company, to create technology that will help keep airports safe from rogue drones.
According to AirMap, the partnership will combine the two pieces of information that are vital to identifying rogue drones—while AirMap’s technology can identify all commercial operators flying with LAANC permission in a restricted area, Fortem’s technology can identify all UAVs flying in the area.
Compare the two lists, and you can easily identify who is flying without authorization.
Taking Over the World
Keep in mind, the partnerships listed above are just those AirMap has secured in the last three months.
But just in this list you can see the impressive foothold AirMap has secured when it comes to enabling UTM throughout the world.
A few years back, the creation of a scalable framework that could enable the safe flight of hundreds or thousands of manned and unmanned vehicles may have seemed a distant possibility. But AirMap has created that framework, and is now working tirelessly, in part through these strategic partnerships, to drive its adoption everywhere it can.
What do you think—is working toward a global UTM framework a good thing? Is it even possible? Chime in this thread in the UAV Coach community forum to share your thoughts.