July 15, 2019

Introducing OpenSky — a platform to empower everyone to safely access the sky

Wing has developed a range of tools and technology to support commercial drone delivery over the past seven years. The design of our software has required a detailed understanding of flight rules — along with buildings, roads, trees, and other terrain — that allow aircraft to navigate safely at low altitudes, and we’ve used it to complete tens of thousands of flights on three continents.

We are drawing on that experience to create OpenSky, a family of software products that will give drone operators a greater understanding of, and access to, the sky around them. OpenSky products will help users comply with rules and plan flights more safely and effectively.

Wing is composed of all types of aviation enthusiasts, from licensed GA pilots and flight instructors to drone operators and competition RC aircraft pilots, and safety is our foundational principle. Our experience has taught us that a collaborative, industry-provided ecosystem of tools and services will be critical to allow unmanned aircraft to reach their full potential and coexist with other aircraft while ensuring safe, efficient, and equitable access to the sky. OpenSky is Wing’s contribution to that collaborative ecosystem, and it will interoperate with apps from across the industry.

Wing released an OpenSky app for use by drone flyers in Australia this month, the first in what will be a range of OpenSky products. When a drone flyer enters a location, the Australian OpenSky app provides a checklist covering a range of critical factors, including airspace restrictions, known hazardous situations, and proximity to airports and heliports. OpenSky users in Australia will also be given alerts related to emergency response situations, nearby sporting events, or other situations that may impact available airspace. OpenSky will also introduce accessibility capabilities such as “Voice Over” and “Talk Back” that can improve access for a broader range of flyers.

OpenSky’s development is informed by work with aviation regulators, and industry standards bodies like ASTM international. Wing is currently developing tools for Australia’s Civil Aviation Safety Authority (CASA)to communicate with drone flyers and our Australian app is approved by CASA. In the United States, Wing has participated in the Federal Aviation Administration’s (FAA) Unmanned Aircraft System (UAS) Traffic Management Pilot Program (UPP), is an approved LAANC provider and has participated in NASA’s Technology Capability Levels 1–3. In Switzerland, Wing is a participant in the Federal Office of Civil Aviation’s (FOCA) U-Space Implementation Program. By allowing drone flyers to access a diverse ecosystem of industry-provided services, operated under regulatory oversight, these nations are prioritizing safety while also creating space for innovation.

Drones provide increasingly useful services to society, including emergency response assistance, infrastructure inspection, perspective-enhancing film and television work, and the delivery of goods. They also provide recreation for drone hobbyists, who simply love to fly.

Our hope is that OpenSky will ultimately allow all aviation communities to fly with greater confidence, and in doing so, provide greater access to the sky