As with many parts of the drone industry, when you first start looking at flight operations management tools there is so much information out there, and so many different tools for different tasks, that you can easily feel overwhelmed.
So how do you sift through the noise, and find the tools you truly need to run your sUAS operation?
This resource was created to help by honing in on those tools that were created only for flight operations management.
In the article below we cover who should consider using a flight operations management tool, and then take a look at five of the main flight ops tools on the market today.
What Are Flight Operations Management Tools?
Before we go any further, let’s define our terms.
By flight operations management tools we mean a single tool that allows drone pilots to:
- Do airspace research
- Keep battery logs
- Keep aircraft maintenance logs
- Create and store pilot profiles
- Track insurance
- Track certification
- Track registration information
Basically, we’re talking about a tool that is a single dashboard for all of the details related to your flight ops, specifically created to store all the flight ops information you need stored, and to provide flight ops information when it comes to airspace research.
Who Should Consider Using a Flight Operations Management Tool
Flight operations management tools aren’t necessarily a good fit for everyone.
If you’re a solopreneur running your own business, and you only have yourself and your own missions to worry about, you probably don’t need a flight ops management tool. If you’re on a small team of two to three pilots, a flight ops tool is probably a good idea, but may not be crucial for your operations to be a success.
On the other hand, if you work with a team of pilots, either as a service provider or as a unit that’s part of a larger organization, be it public or private, then you almost definitely need to be using a flight ops management tool.
The rationale for using a flight operations management tool is simple. If you have a complicated operation with lots of moving parts, you need one place where you can store and track all of your information.
Flight ops tools also help you provide transparency with clients, because they allow you to provide records and other documents related to a mission at the push of a button. On a similar note, it’s nice to have a place where all of your records are kept in case you want to do a historic dig into past data to remind yourself about a certain mission, or simply want to refer back to a prior project to inform your current efforts.
Flight Operations Management Tools
Below are some of the top flight operations management tools on the market.
All of these tools offer free trials, which means you can see what they have to offer from the inside without risking any money. See the last line in each company profile below for the link to register for a free account.
Regarding how to find the right tool for you, the truth is that everyone’s needs are unique, and there is no silver bullet or perfect platform. We recommend signing up for free trials, doing small tests, and also reaching out to people in your community to see which tools they’ve had the most success with.
Now without further ado, here are the top flight operations management tools out there.
Skyward is a flight operations management platform designed for drone operators. They were acquired by Verizon a little while back, and their primary focus these days is on helping larger, enterprise-level teams to coordinate flight planning efforts.
Here’s an overview video from Skyward that explains how they help manage drone flight operations:
For more information on Skyward, check out this interview we did over at UAV Coach with Skyward Co-Founder Eric Ringer on how to run a commercial drone operation:
Here are the key takeaways and topics of interest from the interview, in case you’d like to jump straight to the area that most interests you (the third item, “Organizing an operation,” may be of top interest for those of you currently on the market for flight ops management tools):
- 0:22 — Operationalizing your sUAS business, and what it means to do so
- 5:02 — Airspace research, and defining your flight area
- 17:43 — Organizing an operation
- 21:27 — Tracking pilot hours and FAA certification (for operations with multiple pilots)
- 24:12 — Operational summary report, for accounting (for bigger commercial operations)
- 25:13 — Common mistakes/challenges, and possible solutions
- 28:18 — Using Pilot Finder to find pilots, and setting up your Pilot Finder profile to find work a pilot
Check out the Skyward YouTube channel for tutorials on how to use Skyward, and to learn more about how they support drone flight operations management.
Create a free Skyward account here.
Flyte is a platform that help drone pilots manage their operations.
In addition to planning, logging, and reporting support, Flyte provides full and up to the minute information on digital NOTAMS/TFRs and ground hazards, as well as an airspace integration through AIRMAP, which enables pilots to integrate into national airspace and communicate with ATC.
This video provides a helpful overview of how Flyte supports drone pilots in managing their operations:
Create a free Flyte account here.
Kittyhawk is a one-stop shop for flying, logging, and coordinating UAV operations.
They have a strong focus on providing value for their pilots, which manifests in the usability of their platform and the fact that they allow for the unlimited logging of hours.
Here’s a useful overview of Kittyhawk’s platform for managing drone flight operations:
Check out the Kittyhawk YouTube channel for tutorials on how to use the Kittyhawk platform, and to learn more about how they support drone flight operations management.
Create a free Kittyhawk account here.
DroneLogbook is a flight management platform for UAV Pilots.
They focus on automating log collections, and support more than 20 different UAV log file types. They also have features to manage equipment, battery, maintenance, incident, location, and pre-flight documents.
DroneLogBook supports a spectrum of UAV pilots, from hobbyists to large companies.
Watch this video to learn more about how DroneLogbook helps pilots manage their operations:
Check out the DroneLogbook YouTube channel for tutorials on how to use DroneLogbook, and to learn more about how they support drone flight operations management.
Create a free DroneLogbook account here.
NV Drones offers next-generation drone management and analytics for the 21st century pilot, with a mobile app available from Google Play and web/mobile integration that allows pilots to to upload flight logs from the most popular drones and software.
Watch this overview from NV Drones to learn more about how they support drone pilots in managing their flight operations:
Check out the NV Drones YouTube channel for tutorials on how to use the NV Drones platform, and to learn more about how they support drone flight operations management.
Create a free NV Drones account here.
Still uncertain which flight operations management tool is the right one for you?
The truth is that it’s hard to choose, and that finding the perfect tool presents something of a moving target these days, given how fast these tools are changing, and how quickly the drone industry as a whole is developing.
In all likelihood, you really won’t know which flight operations management tool provides just the right fit for your operations until you dive in and try a few of them out. We suggest setting yourself up with a free account using one of the links provided above and seeing how things go from there.
We hope this list of flight ops tools helps you narrow down your choices, and find what you’re looking for when it comes to a flight operations management tool.
Blue skies and safe flying out there!