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Why Small UAS Service Providers Are Expanding Page 22


Large-UAV Training Page 30


Academy AwardWinning UAS Page 10

Behind Intel’s Entrance Into UAS Page 16 Printed in USA

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Anil Nanduri, general manager of UAS for Intel’s perceptual computing group, explains why his team has acquired commercial UAV makers, partnered with recreational drone distributors and performed world-record multi-UAV flights in locations around the world.

UAS pioneer Emmanuel Previnaire built FlyingCam into an Academy Award-winning company and opened the door to the major motion picture industry for UAS providers.

Intel’s Entrance Into UAS

UAS Goes To Hollywood By Patrick C. Miller

By Luke Geiver



SkySkopes, one of thousands of sUAS service providers set to expand following the release of Part 107, has a blueprint and a vision for the future.

Major large UAS manufacturers are opening state-of-the-art pilot training facilities to meet the constantly growing demand for qualified operators.

Flying Past The UAS Startup Stage

Large UAS Pilot Training Taking Off By Patrick C. Miller

By Luke Geiver

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FAA reauthorization contains key UAS provisions Will there be more UAS nighttime flights in the future? Samsung releases new memory card for drone photographers New research underway for the first, last 50 feet of flight

ON THE COVER: Matt Dunlevy, CEO of SkySkopes with Chief Pilot Connor Grafius and COO Ryan Ach. PHOTO: PATRICK C. MILLER


EDITOR'S NOTE After 2 Years, It's Time To Run This UAS Cover Story Call us intuitive or lucky for waiting two years to run this issue’s cover story. Either way, we are happy we

held off on telling the story of SkySkopes, a small unmanned aircraft systems service provider from North Dakota, after we first visited its meager office in 2014. The company epitomizes what it means to be a sUAS service provider today and what it has taken thousands of companies to do on their way to commercial relevance. Standing on the SkySkopes UAS airfield for the cover shoot, we smiled in disbelief as a convoy of vehicles pulled up, parked in a long row and began unloadLuke Geiver Editor, UAS Magazine ing ground control equipment, UAVs and other end systems for the photos we were about to capture. The company, founded by Matt Dunlevy, has come a long way since 2014 when it was only he and a few interns. If you want to learn what small UAS teams have been through—to get clients, make payroll, amass a pilot pool, acquire a 333, get more clients, and prepare for life after the release of Part 107—check out the photos (some of them two years old by now) and story, “Flying Past The UAS Startup Stage,” on page 22. On the large UAV scene, we had the opportunity to go behind the scenes of General Atomics, pilot training facilities. The globally-recognized major UAS manufacturer is experiencing a massive demand for its systems and the qualified pilots and operators to go with it. G.A.’s new pilot-training facility is impressive and will train pilots for operations around the world, as “Large UAV Pilot Training Taking Off,” reveals on page 30. Intel Corp., another globally recognized brand, also gave us a full-access look into its overall UAS efforts. Anil Nanduri, general manager for Intel’s newly formed UAS team, explained the genesis of Intel’s recent launch into UAS. Our talks included details on Intel’s acquisition of a commercial-grade UAV maker, its partnership with a recreation-style UAV distributor and the project Nanduri told us was epic—a multi-UAV flight sequence set to orchestral music that in a very impressive, beautiful and Guinness Book of World Record’s type-of-way helps to show why Intel believes it has a very big place in the UAS world. It might not be readily apparent how every long-tenured UAS-related firm has shaped or will alter the greater UAS industry and the industry’s place among end-user budgets, but after reading about Flying Cam’s accomplishments—starting in the 80s—we hope you won’t argue with our choice of words in describing the story. The Belgium company has won multiple academy awards for its work utilizing UAVs on films ranging from the James Bond movie “Skyfall” to the Harry Potter series. The team was truly a pioneer in many ways and has helped build the bridge of trust between the major motion picture industry and UAS firms even before the first 333 exempt UAS companies did so back in 2014. The best part about the Flying Cam story for all of us not on their staff is related to the bigger element of the UAS industry that was revealed in this issue. The time for pioneers, startups or major UAS players to succeed, gain recognition or simply build their accounts receivables has never been better. VOLUME 3 ISSUE 3

EDITORIAL Editor Luke Geiver Staff Writer Patrick C. Miller Copy Editor Jan Tellmann

PUBLISHING & SALES Chairman Mike Bryan CEO Joe Bryan President Tom Bryan Vice President of Operations Matthew Spoor Vice President of Content Tim Portz Business Development Manager Bob Brown Marketing & Sales Director John Nelson Circulation Manager Jessica Tiller Marketing & Advertising Manager Marla DeFoe


Art Director Jaci Satterlund Graphic Designer Lindsey Noble

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FAA reauthorization contains key UAS provisions A bill reauthorizing the U.S. Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) through September 2017, passed by Congress with bipartisan support and signed by Pres. Barack Obama in July, contains key provisions for unmanned aircraft systems (UAS). Brian Wynne, president and CEO of the Association for Unmanned Vehicle Systems International (AUVSI), said, “This FAA extension will provide short-term stability for the commercial UAS industry. Its provisions will help expand commercial operations, advance research and keep the airspace safe for all users – manned and unmanned.”

Spokespersons from various industries offered their own respective takes on what the reauthorization means for UAS and industry.


Jimi Grande, senior vice president of federal and political affairs for the National Association of Mutual Insurance Companies, said UAS technology can Oil and Gas assist policyholders during times Spokespersons for the energy of disaster. and insurance industries com“Drones can go into disastermended Congress for the legisla- stricken areas long before those tion. Robin Rorick, midstream areas can be established as safe director with the American Petro- for humans, which means damage leum Institute, said, “The ability to can be surveyed and claims can use drones will allow the industry begin to be processed far more to use the latest technologies to swiftly to help victims begin their continue to effectively monitor recovery process,” he noted. infrastructure and facilities while minimizing the risk to personnel.”



Electric Utility

Tom Kuhnissued, president of the Edison Electric Institute, said, "With this legislation, Congress has made clear its priorities for the FAA, specifically highlighting the need for owners and operators of critical infrastructure to operate unmanned aircraft beyond visual line of sight.”


Key UAS measures in HR 636, the FAA Extension, Safety, and Security Act of 2016, include: Test Sites Continue

• An extension authorizing the FAA’s six UAS test sites until February 2020. The sites are the Northern Plains UAS Test Site in Grand Forks, North Dakota; the Lone Star UAS Center of Excellence and Innovation in Corpus Christie, Texas; the Nevada Unmanned Aerial System Test Range in Las Vegas; the MidAtlantic Aviation Partnership test site for Virginia, Maryland and New Jersey; the Alaska Center 6


for Unmanned Aircraft Systems Integration in Fairbanks; and the Northeast UAS Airspace Integration Research Alliance Inc. (NUAIR) site in Rome, New York.

Emergency Flights Made Easier

• A streamlined process to deploy UAS during emergency situations such as natural disasters and wildfires.

No Fire Flying

• A provision that prohibits UAS operators from interfering in firefighting and other emergency situations. It includes civil penalties of up to $20,000.

Don’t Fly Near Airports

• A process to detect, identify and mitigate against the unauthorized use of UAS near airports and other critical infrastructure.

Facility Fly-Overs Limited

• The ability for facility operators to request an FAA designation that prohibits UAS flights near structures such as energy generation and transmission facilities, refineries and amusement parks.

Preaching Safety

• A requirement for small UAS manufacturers to provide their customers with information on safety and FAA regulations.


Will there be more UAS nighttime flights in the future? The U.S. Federal Aviation Administration’s Part 107 rule for small unmanned aircraft systems (sUAS) continued the agency’s ban on nighttime flying. However, the FAA signaled a greater willingness to consider waivers for such flights if certain conditions can be met. Earlier this year, Torontobased Industrial SkyWorks received a Section 333 exemption from the FAA to conduct nighttime UAS flights for Tremco Roofing and Building Maintenance in the U.S., thus becoming the first business approved for commercial operations at night. Robb Chauvin, Tremco Roofing’s executive director of inspection services, said the company recognizes the importance to the construction industry of conducting UAS operations safely and successfully at night. “It’s bigger than just us,” he noted. “We’re the standard-bearer on this for nighttime flight in the construction world. We understand the importance of getting it right. In a world where typically you wish your competition would never follow, this is a cutting-edge grant of exemption.” Tremco Roofing—based in Ohio—has nearly 90 years of experience in the roofing business and uses the SkyBEAM (Building Envelope Aerial Mapping) UAS to fly building inspections. The drones employ high-definition video and thermographic (infrared) cameras to locate energy leaks, rooftop damage, deteriorating façades, safety issues and other potential problems.

“Compliance with the grant of exemption is our No. 1 priority, and that’s akin to the FAA’s No. 1 priority, which is safety of participants and non-participants,” Chauvin said. The Small UAV Coalition filed comments supporting Skyworks’ petition for an exemption, saying it was warranted because of the level of protection provided, the operating environment where the UAS flights would occur and the training and experience of the company’s operators. In granting the exemption, the FAA required the SkyWorks UAS pilot to hold a pilot certificate that allows night operations. In the sUAS rule, the FAA continued to express concerns about night flying, saying, “When operating at night, a remote pilot may have difficulty avoiding collision with people or obstacles on the ground which may not be lighted and as a result, may not be visible to the pilot or the visual observer.” It also cited the lack of approved collision avoidance technology for sUAS. But the agency added that that it will consider granting waivers to its restriction on nighttime flights. In addition, the FAA used Part 107 to somewhat loosen restriction by allowing for sUAS flights during civil twilight—the time 30 minutes before sunrise and 30 minutes after sunset (except in Alaska)—for drones equipped with anti-collision lights visible for at least three miles.

CIVIL TWILIGHT: Although the FAA's smal UAS rule continues to forbid nighttime flights without a waiver or exemption, it now allows properly equipped drones to fly during civil twilight, the time 30 minutes before sunrise and 30 minutes after sunset. PHOTO: TREMCO ROOFING

WHAT'S GOING ON UP THERE?: Tremco Roofing and Building Maintenance partners with Industrial SkyWorks to use UAS for building roof inspections. Under an FAA exemption, Tremco Roofing can fly at night using IR cameras to inspect a roof when it isn't heated by the sun. PHOTO: TREMCO ROOFING



Samsung releases new memory card for drone photographers Reviewing flight-captured imagery or high-definition video directly from a memory card has just gotten quicker, thanks to the entrance of a major electronics developer into the drone market. Samsung Electronics has created a 256 gigabyte memory card specifically for drone pilots utilizing DLSRs, 3D virtual reality or action cameras. The new memory card is roughly the size of a postal stamp but provides the equivalent memory found in a typical solid-state hard drive shaped like a credit card. At five times the speed of a typical microSD card, Samsung’s memory card option will improve movie playback, reading a full-HD video in 10 seconds instead of the 50 seconds needed with a microSD card. For DSLR users and for multi-shot applications, Sam-



sung’s card will reduce multimedia downloading time, photo thumbnail loading time and buffer clearing time in burst shooting mode. Large JPEG photos will take less than seven seconds to upload compared to the microSD version that typically require 32 seconds. “Our new 256GB UFS card will provide an ideal experience for digitally-minded consumers and lead the industry in establishing the most competitive memory card solution,” said Jung-bae Lee, senior vice president, memory product planning and application engineering for Samsung. The card is “changing the growth paradigm of the memory card market to prioritize performance and user convenience above all,” Lee added.

SMALL CARD, BIG CHANGE: Drone photographers or videographers looking to review images quickly post flight will now be able to do so with ease thanks to Samsung's entrance into the drone space. IMAGE: SAMSUNG


New research underway for the first, last 50 feet of flight Sanjiv Singh, CEO of a Carnegie Mellon University spin-off that has worked on numerous complex autonomous systems and algorithms for government entities, has just embarked on a two-year research plan focused on 50 feet of airspace. Through a $754,000 grant awarded from NASA, Singh’s Near Earth Autonomy team will work on algorithms and sensors that can be used on unmanned aircraft systems to help make take-offs and landings safer and more predictable regardless of terrain or conditions. “There is a lot of complexity in that space,” Singh said. “That is where GPS can be most unreliable.” The focus of Singh’s work will revolve around the development of what NASA is calling the Safe50. The name refers to a software module that will allow

take-offs and landings to be performed without the aid of GPS. The system will eventually allow for an operator to fly, land and take-off a UAV beyond visual line of sight, without a direct link with a base station and with intermittent GPS. To start the research effort, Singh’s team will first look at the perception part of the system. The eventual system will rely on a suite of sensors, he said, and those sensors will need to feed the right kind of data to a software program that can interpret and provide actionable responses. This type of work is not new for Singh. His team has previously demonstrated a mock casualty evacuation with an autonomous helicopter. The idea, he said, was to show that you could have such a vehicle pick up casualties without putting


SAFE LANDINGS: Because GPS is difficult to maintain close to the ground, UAVs can benefit from sensor packages designed to land them beyond line of sight. Near Earth will take lessons learned from previous projects and apply them to the Safe50 work.   PHOTO: NEAR EARTH AUTONOMY

other people at risk. Singh and his team have also developed their own rotorcraft they hope to deploy for inspection services when they aren’t performing research.




INTEL’S YEAR IN UAS: -Acquired small UAV manufacturer Ascending Technologies -Debuted RealSense Technology at Consumer Electronics Show -Partnered with small UAV manufacturer Yuneec -Partnered with AT&T -Performed Drone 100 flights in Germany, Australia, U.S. -Named team lead for FAA Drone Advisory Council




Intel’s Entrance INTO UAS From visually dynamic drone events to obstacle avoidance tech development or advisory roles within the UAS community, a globally recognized brand has made a new name in UAS By Luke Geiver

For five straight summer nights above the Sydney, Australia, harbor, Intel Corp.’s recently created team of unmanned aircraft systems experts executed a drone-based light display from a platform of two barges lashed together in the harbor. The performance featured 100 small drones synchronized through a central computer by several sensor experts and UAV pilot veterans and, of course, the two barges (one too small to launch and land that many drones). In the night sky above the harbor, the small drones, linked to orchestral music, moved through a complex, choreographed flight path that resembled a real-life, 3D point-cloud display. Lights mounted to the sUAV platforms blinked to create an aerial drone dance that earned a place in the Guinness Book of World Records, and was “iconic,” according to Anil Nanduri, general manager of UAS for Intel’s perceptual computing group. The five-night performance was a follow-up to previous Drone 100 flights the same Intel team had performed near a Hamburg, Germany, airfield and outside of Palm Springs, California, earlier in the year. Intel’s drone team pursued and performed the flights for reasons both simple and complex. According to Nanduri, the team worked to perfect the flights just to see if they could pull it off. After acquiring Germanbased small UAV manufacturer Ascending Technologies earlier in the year, Nanduri’s team was, in the simplest of terms, curious about what EPIC SET-UP: Outside of a German airport, Intel's UAS team set-up an airfield to fly 100 small drones through one system. The flight was coordinated to music, performed live and recorded for viewing on Youtube. IMAGE: INTEL CORP.



they could accomplish. Ascending Technologies had previously run a similar drone display with a mere 30 small UAVs. But, Nanduri adds, the Intel team also wanted to begin showcasing to both the public and the UAS industry what the Intel name could mean to, or how it could positively change, the drone space. In combination with several other strategic forays into the UAS space this year, Nanduri believes that by doing what it does best— developing and proving new technology—the company built on microprocessors and computer chips can someday become synonymous within the consumer and commercial UAS world.

The Power of RealSense FLIGHT FOCUSED: Anil Nanduri, second from right, watches a display of flight path information during a Drone 100 set in Germany.

At the 2016 Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas, Brian


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Kraznich, Intel CEO, unveiled what could become Intel’s biggest near-term contribution to the UAS market. Mounted on a small quadcopter built by manufacturer Yuneec, an Intel-trademarked RealSense sensor package helped the small quad navigate through a series of obstacles while it followed a person riding a bike. The demonstration went off without incident, and illustrated the sensor technology’s ability to transform a common drone into one fully capable of flying autonomously with reliable obstacle avoidance and follow-me abilities. Roughly six months after the CES unveiling, Yuneec has announced plans to offer a mutlirotor package that comes standard with a RealSense module, which according to Yuneec, gives the drone advanced computer vision

processing to dynamically alter its course as it encounters obstacles as small as tree branches. Intel also happens to have a video demonstration of an Ascending Technologies multirotor traversing through a forest swerving around trees at 12 miles per hour, avoiding every obstacle in its path. Nanduri and his team can take credit for the RealSense tech’s function, even if they didn’t setout to work on drones. Through his work on perceptual computing and miniaturized camera or computer hardware necessary for the lab top and tablet markets, Nanduri realized depth-perception-capturing-cameras—when combined with the right algorithms—could be suitable for anything in need of viewing or perceiving the world the way the human eye does with depth.

REALSENSE UP-CLOSE: Mounted on teh Yuneec multirotor, the sensor package in the system gives the small drone obstacle avoidance capability during autonomous flights. PHOTO: YUNEEC

After beginning their work on drones, Nanduri says they realized “there was more opportunity to this then they had previously thought.” The RealSense technology combines multiple sensors, hardware and software. One sensor utilizes refracted light measurements while another utilizes two cameras looking at the same object before measuring the distance between the same object viewed by each

camera. The measurements, Nanduri says, can turn algorithms that help a drone mounted with RealSense to take action. “It’s not just about stopping, you need to continue doing your mission. You have a job on hand with a drone and you want to be able to continue to do it,” he says. “The system has to be intelligent enough to apply what it sees and find a course of action.” The combination of Nanduri’s other research focus for in-

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tel, perceptive cameras, with Intel’s know-how at developing powerful microprocessors, puts Intel on what it believes is the leading edge of sense-and-avoid capabilities suited for small UAVs, he says.

Intel Integrates Into UAS

As Nanduri and his team continue to refine the RealSense technology (future iterations will process images faster at wider angles and greater distances), the business development and executive teams are also busy branching out. Through its work with Yuneec, Intel has a partner to service the consumer market. With its acquisition of Ascending Technologies, the company has an avenue into the commercial and research markets. And, through the work of CEO Kraznich, Intel has a major voice



in the future regulatory and drone ecosystem landscape. Both Nanduri and Kraznich participated in the U.S. Federal Aviation Administration’s MircoARC committee for UAS. Kraznich was also tasked to lead a relatively new FAA mission to better integrate small UAVs into the nation’s vision of the future. His presence will help to shape the FAA’s Drone Advisory Council. “This is a very exciting space,” Nanduri says. “The pace of technology at which we can move and the regulations that affect that are important,” he adds, in talking about Intel’s place in future drone and policy regulation. Intel is also working on elements of the drone industry that may not seem to match it’s core competencies of hardware and software. Through a partnership

with AT&T, Intel is collaborating to test and define airborne LTE requirements for UAVs for a concept that would utilize LTEbased real-time video streams from UAVs that are connected to an Intel modem. “I see this as a clear opportunity for the next generation of technology to be applied,” Nanduri says of Intel’s efforts to reach into the UAS world. “I believe a lot of pieces exist today, but they need to come together.” Intel wants to be as big a part of it all as possible, he says. They want to bring the Drone 100 shows to stadiums, Kraznich says. They want to go from hundreds to thousands of drones flying in unison at once. They want to continue putting on impressive aerial displays set to music, but they also want to do more than make a

visual splash or a drone YouTube video that goes viral. To date, Intel’s interaction with government agencies and industry has been very positive, and in some cases, Nanduri says, heartwarming. It’s through that work where Intel’s place in the UAS ecosystem may be most apparent, the team believes. “It (industry interactions on Capitol Hill or through flight demonstrations at major events) showed we are bringing value and capabilities to move innovation faster,” he says. “From an Intel perspective, this is what we’ve always done, bring new technology to market.” Author: Luke Geiver Editor, UAS Magazine 701-738-4944

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UAS Goes To

Hollywood When UAS pioneer Emmanuel Prévinaire started FlyingCam in 1988, he knew he was onto something big. Eventually, the movie industry knew it, too. By Patrick C. Miller

Emmanuel Prévinaire’s dream of a marriage between cinematography and unmanned aircraft technology nearly ended more than three decades ago in a forest in France. Because his dream was eventually realized, the film industry came to know and trust Prévinaire and the capabilities of UAS for capturing memorable aerial scenes that have been immortalized in several globally recognized films.

A Pioneer’s Beginning

While using an early version of what would evolve into the FlyingCam SARAH (Special Aerial Response Automatic Helicopter) to videotape a music video, his unmanned aircraft system (UAS) experienced seven mechanical failures in a row. “We had to keep repairing the helicopter,” he recalls. “After one incident, I stopped working and walked alone for 15 minutes in the forest crying, saying ‘It’s never going to work!’” Prévinaire disassembled the aircraft and discovered that one part—a servo—was failing repeatedly and causing the problem. Once that was solved, he moved on to conquering the next challenges that would ultimately lead to the founding of Flying-Cam in 1988. The company has won two Oscars from the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences. In 1995, Prévinaire and his team won the technical achievement award for inventing the Flying-Cam technology. In 2014, they won the scientific and engineering award for the Flying-Cam 3.0 SARAH UAS. “When you receive the award, it’s like all those moments were for something,” he says of the frustrations and disappointments he experi-

WORLDWIDE REACH: Flying-Cam's success in pairing UAS technology with film, video and digital cameras has enabled it to work around the world. Here, the company's SARAH unmanned helicopter captures a scene in China for a documentary. PHOTO: FLYING-CAM



FLYING TIGER: In 1978, a young Emmanuel Prévinaire flies a radio-controlled Bell Jet Ranger with his custom paint scheme. He won the Belgian junior championship with the aircraft and participated in international flying competitions. PHOTO: FLYING-CAM

enced along the way. “You realize you can grow from them. There’s an energy that comes in and brings you to the next step. It really helps to guide you in a way that says, ‘Yes, what you did was good.’ But it’s never easy.” As a result of Prévinaire’s pioneering work that began more than 30 years ago, Flying-Cam became the premier provider of UAS cinematography for Hollywood’s top moviemakers. The company’s work can be seen in such movies as “Mission: Impossible,” “Skyfall,” “Transformers,” “Kite Runner,” “Jarhead” and the Harry Potter series. Growing up in Belgium, 18


Prévinaire’s father―a private pilot and ninth-generation notary―introduced him to aviation and the hobby of flying radio-controlled aircraft. He credits his mother— who painted, sang and played the piano—with sparking his creative interest in moviemaking. Unlike many teenagers during the 1970s, Prévinaire spent his time winning national radio-controlled aircraft flying competitions, reading American Cinematographer Magazine and working toward earning his commercial pilot’s license. “My father wanted me to make a living out of a professional activity,” Prévinaire remembers. “I told him I would pass the test to

get my commercial pilot’s license.’ As soon as I got the license, my father said, ‘Now you can do something else.’” Prévinaire chose to attend a film school—the Institut des Arts de Diffusion—in Belgium where he wrote his master’s thesis on the Flying-Cam concept. While he recognized that mounting a film camera on a drone would give moviemakers a new and valuable tool to help them tell the grand stories movies best convey, overcoming the technical challenges involved years of refining and testing new designs. “You have those two parts— arts and sciences—and it’s actually

one of the most challenging situations when science needs to serve the arts,” Previnaire notes. “The director does not have the sense of limits. In imagination, there are no limits. So you have to serve somebody who has no limits in his mind. That brings the technology to a challenge to meet the requirements.” Early on, Prévinaire relied on his knowledge of aviation to select a standard helicopter design as the best platform to carry video and film cameras for television and movie productions. “The helicopter gives you freedom in the air. I always looked for that in the design of the Flying-


THE HIGHEST RECOGNITION: In 2014, the Flying-Cam team received its second Oscar from the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences for the 3.0 SARAH unmanned helicopter. From left to right are Jan Sperling, Emmanuel Previnaire and Etienne Brandt. PHOTO: FLYING-CAM

Cam system,” he says. “I looked for the maximum potential out of the platform.” Today, although the basic design might appear similar, the capabilities of Flying-Cam’s 3.0 SARAH have changed considerably. It now carries an RED Epic digital cinema camera for up to an hour of flight time, flying at speeds and with a precision that Prévinaire says multirotor designs can’t match. “The single rotor—due to the Law of physics—is a better solution, one single rotor is more efficient then multiple small one” he explains. “It flies faster and higher with collective pitch control.” SARAH can carry a 3D laser scanner, hyperspectral and multispectral sensors, synthetic aperture radar—any device weighing up to 22 pounds that requires high-precision air maneuvers. Flying-Cam has recently branched into other commercial services, including infrastructure inspection, mapping and surveying, emergency opera-

tions, and government and defense applications. Prévinaire notes that FlyingCam developed and owns all the intellectual property associated with its UAS, including the platform itself, its autopilot, the ground control station and the graphical user interface for its software. The company provides field operation services and sells turn-key systems. It has offices in Oupeye, Belgium; Santa Monica, California; and Hong Kong. In its early years, Flying-Cam had to overcome the idea that drones were playthings for hobbyists, not useful tools for moviemakers. “We first had to bring the technology to a professional level and then explain to our clients that we were working at a different stage than the hobby. There was no perception of this activity as being professional,” he relates. Slowly but surely, professionals in the entertainment industry began to see the advantages of

Flying-Cam’s UAS union with film and video. In a music video shot for a French singer, Prévinaire flew his unmanned helicopter through the window of a house and out again. Eyes began to open to new possibilities. “This first shot was a revelation. Everybody who saw it said, ‘How did they do that?’ At that time, there were no computer graphic images,” he says. “I realized that something was happening here. This technology would go somewhere.” The fledgling company got its first big break in 1989 when noted production designer JeanClaude Goude asked Flying-Cam to capture a shot for a documentary on the 200th anniversary of the French Revolution. He wanted the drone to fly a 1.5-mile route in Paris starting at the Luxor Obelisk, going down the Champs-Elysees Avenue and ending at the famed Arc de Triomphe. However, neither the mayor of Paris, Jacques Chirac, nor its po-

lice were willing to allow the flight to occur because it involved shutting down a busy section of the city. As fate would have it, Mikhail Gorbachev, leader of the Soviet Union, came to Paris for a ceremony marking the revolution at the Arc de Triomphe with French President Francois Mitterrand. This meant the very route along which Goude wanted Prévinaire’s drone to fly would be closed to traffic. When the mayor refused to alter his decision, Goude appealed directly to Mitterand on the morning of the ceremony. Fortunately, the president liked the idea and gave his permission. The police gave Flying-Cam’s team a 10-minute window of opportunity to get the shot and provided the company’s drone chase car with an escort. “I got goose bumps flying the machine all the way down the Champs-Elysees and through the Arc de Triomphe,” Prévinaire recalls. “From a pilot’s standpoint, it was amazing.”



UAS ON LOCATION: Emmanuel Prévinaire (bottom left) and the Flying-Cam team in the Baja California Desert on the set of the movie "Jarhead" shot in 2005 with director Sam Mendes. PHOTO: FLYING-CAM

Goude was so impressed with the results that he used the scene as the introduction to the documentary. A few days after the shoot while Prévinaire was in Canada on another job, he saw a newspaper photo of Flying-Cam’s UAS making its historic flight through Paris. Unfortunately, the journalists who witnessed the event believed the red drone was part of Gorbachev’s security detail. “No! No! It was not that!” he remembers shouting while reading the account.

Bringing UAS To Hollywood

In 1993, Flying-Cam broke into Hollywood moviemaking on an action film called “Striking Distance” featuring Bruce Willis and 20


Sarah Jessica Parker. The company was hired to film a car chase and a scene with a boat jumping over a waterfall. Although the movie wasn’t a commercial success, the amount of money and resources Hollywood dedicated to moviemaking left a lasting impression on Prévinaire and his colleagues. “It was mind-blowing to us,” he says. “We realized, man, this is an industry. This is huge!” And Flying-Cam had also made an impression on Hollywood. “They called us ‘the Belgian waffles,’ Prévinaire laughs. “After they saw our footage, we became ‘the Belgian flying waffles.’” More and more Hollywood moviemakers began to recognize the value that Flying-Cam’s aerial cinematography added to their films. “Motion pictures are where

you tell the big story,” Prévinaire says. “You not only do the ‘Wow!’ shot, but your shot also needs to be part of the storytelling. You have to respect what the director wants and make sure it’s one piece in the puzzle. And that piece must fit into the big picture of what the movie’s about.” Getting the “money shot” became Flying-Cam’s stock in trade. “The most rewarding situation is when we see our shots in the trailer because the trailer is what the producer and director are using to catch peoples’ attention and encourage them to see the movie,” Prévinaire explains. Flying-Cam’s success has allowed Prévinaire and the FlyingCam team to travel the world and work with some of the biggest names in the movie industry—

some of them actors well-known by fans and others well-known within the industry. “We worked several times with Tom Cruise. He’s a very nice person on the set—very casual, very open to talk with,” Prévinaire says of the “Mission: Impossible” star. He calls Allen Daviau—who lists such films as “E.T. the ExtraTerrestrial,” “The Color Purple” and “Van Helsing” among his credits—a genius and an “old school director of photography.” Prévinaire recalls a time on a movie set when Daviau sent him a hand-written note apologizing for the weather that grounded FlyingCam’s drone. When asked what he considers Fly-Cam’s signature moments in cinematography, Prévinaire re-


SKY VIEW FOR SKYFALL: Flying-Cam's SARAH proved to be the best UAS for the job of filming James Bond on a motorcycle chasing a bad guy across the rooftops of Istanbul in Turkey. Emmanuel Prévinaire considers it one of his company's signature scenes. PHOTO: FLYING-CAM

fers to the opening scene in the James Bond movie “Skyfall,” in which motorcycles chase across the rooftops of Istanbul in Turkey. “I’m very proud of those shots because we were chosen after the multirotors were tested and they weren’t capable of the agility and speed needed,” he says. “Those bikes really ran fast—close to 100 kilometers per hour (60 mph). We were the only platform that could chase them at that speed. It was really challenging for both the pilot and me, the cameraman. We got some really amazing shots.” Prévinaire says “Kite Runner”—an award-winning 2007 movie directed by Marc Forster— was memorable both for the images Flying-Cam recorded and the conditions under which it was filmed in the remote location of

Kashgar, China. The crew slept in a yurth at altitudes above 12,000 feet and worked in temperatures near zero. SARAH was used to capture scenes simulating a kite’s point of view. When Prévinaire started Flying-Cam, his father disapproved and told him: “Stop playing with that.” At the film school he attended, the professors who graded his thesis didn’t recognize the potential of UAS technology in moviemaking. It wasn’t until 1995 when the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences recognized FlyingCam’s accomplishments with an Oscar that Prévinaire turned the doubters into believers. “When you receive a letter with a gold stamp on it, that’s the day you realize that 16 years of hard work paid off. It’s really a big

moment,” he says. “It was quite obvious that we were going to get it, but we didn’t know when.” Although improvements in computer-generated imagery (CGI) are beginning to limit opportunities for UAS in the movie industry, Prévinaire believes they will continue to have a place in moviemaking because of the need for interaction between actors, directors and UAS operators. As he points out, not everything can be programmed. “This is a lifetime of work; it’s never ending,” he says. “The technology is moving so fast that it’s not going to stop tomorrow. You can’t say today the product is so good we can finish it here. It’s a continuous flow of innovation.” It’s the drive to innovate that continues to push Prévinaire to

improve the unmanned aircraft technology that took Flying-Cam to the top of the movie industry. “Innovation is often connected to the mixing of two existing technologies,” he stresses. “Nothing comes out of nothing. You have to create something new.” Flying-Cam’s innovations and accomplishments are what’s made Prévinaire a true pioneer in the realm of UAS cinematography. Author: Patrick C. Miller Staff Writer, UAS Magazine 701-738-4923






Flying Past

The UAS Startup Stage Matt Dunlevy and his UAS team have ground their way from a startup stage to a proven entity. With a new era in UAS history here, thanks to Part 107, Dunlevy’s story has helped reveal the positive state of the UAS service industry. By Luke Geiver Photos by Patrick C. Miller

Matt Dunlevy exemplifies everything you would expect from an unmanned aircraft systems (UAS) startup CEO that launched his business in a city that has become synonymous for its support of drones. He wears running shoes and jeans, not loafers and ties. On a Monday morning he could be meeting with city leaders on a new drone initiative to bring more UAS firms to North Dakota from as far away as Finland. By that afternoon, he could be driving to a job site to fly and inspect a transmission line for a paying customer. If he’s not flying for profit, you’ll most likely find him and his crew at their city-approved UAS airfield that resides just on the edge of town overlooking a man-made pond and a massive ag field. If you happen to be standing with him during a UAS flight demo, you’ll most likely hear him say, “Man, I want to fly that thing.” Dunlevy can talk shop with angel investors, UAV manufacturers, payload designers, local business owners or any air traffic control tower personnel that happens to be on shift at the time of Dunlevy’s call. GROWING LINE-UP: After starting with a team of three in 2014, SkySkopes has more than tripled in just two years. According to Matt Dunlevy, CEO, one of the company's biggest challenges is recruiting enough new pilots.



STUBBLE FIELD FLIGHTS: In the summer of 2015, the team was flying for agriculture clients looking for imagery and information on their fields and tractors at work.

THE WIND IS RIGHT: Through a contract with a data analytics firm and a windblade manufacturer, SkySkopes has flown multiple times for wind projects.

SHOWING-OFF: For the first time ever at a long-standing UAS event in North Dakota, the SkySkopes team demonstrated its flight abilities on an arena floor to a large crowd.



Like thousands of other U.S. Federal Aviation Administration section 333 exempt UAS companies, Dunlevy and his company have experienced the adrenaline rush of opening that first pack of logo-printed business cards, the agonizing wait for the FAA’s 333 approval to arrive and the grind of phone calls, emails and meetings with potential clients or partners that are interested in drones but unsure what they truly want to pay for. Throughout the past two years, UAS Magazine has followed Dunlevy and his team in their trek from little-known UAS startup to what the company has become today. As their timeline and story reveals, young UAS entities have experienced the excitement of operating in a new industry, along with the challenges. With the regulations of Part 107 now in place to allow a multitude of commercial operations to take place without the regula-

tory hindrance many—Dunlevy included—experienced during the past few years, it appears that the stage is set for thousands of UAS firms across the country to thrive—especially if they can match the abilities of the CEO, who if you had to guess, is probably at his airfield south of town right now in his jeans, running shoes and logoed polo, watching his pilots fly multi-rotors against the backdrop of a big blue sky that could someday look similar to operations his team flies anywhere in the world.

July 2015

SkySkopes is headquartered in the Center for Innovation, which houses startups and entrepreneurs, seated on the outskirts of the University of North Dakota campus. Room sizes vary from single suite offices to spaces equipped for multiple cubicles. After spending time in the entrepreneurship program at the Cen-


READY FOR THE JOB: At its airfield training grounds, the team can set-up multiple ground control stations and other equipment for all-day flight training.

ALWAYS TALKING: During an U.S. Federal Aviation Administration meeting in late 2015, Dunlevy was one of the first to ask the FAA on its plans for releasing the small UAS rule.

ter before starting the precursor company to SkySkopes, Dunlevy felt comfortable setting up shop there. Currently, 23 UAS-related firms from around the world claim the Center as their regional headquarters. In July 2015, Dunlevy’s office had enough room for four people, as long as the desk space and non-chair space could be covered with large hard-cases for his small fleet of multi-rotors. On the upper cabinets attached to the desks there were small drones and controllers. On the floor, yellow battery packs. On the center of each desk, com-

puter monitors. On the walls, nothing. The meager July office set-up was actually impressive compared to what Dunlevy could have claimed only a year earlier. Through multiple grants gained in 2014 from the state, University, and private entities like Bobcat Corp., Dunlevy was able to raise roughly $40,000 to fund his venture into UAS. “That left us with a future, but no pilot and no aircraft,” he says. And when he refers to “we,” Dunlevy means himself and a semi-revolving stable of interns and students from the business classes he teaches.

Through a random conversation at the front desk of a local hotel frequented by aerospace researchers and personnel in town to visit UND aerospace and UAS faculty, Dunlevy got a tip on what turned out to be his chief pilot. After talking with Connor Grafius about his experience flying and interacting with drones and remote-controlled vehicles, Dunlevy quickly tagged him to be his main pilot. Soon after, Dunlevy penned a 333 exemption request in November. “When our exemption was pending, we had a prayer and no wing,” he says. During that time, Dunlevy kept his instructor’s role at the schools’ entrepreneur center and Grafius remained in school. By July 2015, SkySkopes was nearly a month removed from receiving a 333 exemption. Dunlevy calls the day his team received the positive 333 news in June of that year, their best to date. “We didn’t know what we would do without that exemption,” he says. “The morning I woke up to the 333 exemption in my inbox I remember calling Connor,” he says. “All I remember him saying was, ‘So it begins’.”

When we visited their offices that July last summer, the team had only flown a handful of commercial jobs for cell tower inspections and realty companies looking for videos of new apartment buildings. Dunlevy hadn’t taken a paycheck yet, and to date, he still hasn’t. When he looks back on that time, he’s quick to point out what a grind it was to educate potential clients on the services his small team could provide, and that he still works against the same two constant challenges: pilot recruitment and cash flow. That summer, the focus of SkySkopes was in the midst of a major pivot. After transitioning away from an idea that would have made the company a boutique drone manufacturer in 2014 when the vision for the company was still just past a brainstorm session, Dunlevy knew he wanted to look past a future of wedding photography and marketing images at golf courses. “Our picture for UAS kept getting bigger,” he says. “We wanted to become part of the larger UAS ecosystem.”



EXPANDING THE FLEET: With a handful of popular, readily available small UAVs, the SkySkopes team is also adding high-end drones and fixed-wing platforms. Dunlevy's goal is to stay up-to-date on the best platforms available.

July 2016

We are standing on top of a man-made grassy hill overlooking the pond that edges the SkySkopes airfield south of Grand Forks. The morning sun is filtered out by a blanket of thin clouds that almost look to be the remnants of a passing storm. From where we are standing, we can see the entire edge of the city and the vast ag fields in every other direction. It is clear Dunlevy has everything he needs to test-fly near, around or over from this spot. We are there for a photoshoot of Dunlevy and his team and lighting is almost too perfect. When he answers his cell after we call to check on his status for arrival, he tells us he’s almost there and that his SkySkopes convoy is right behind. A year after we officially met with the SkySkopes team of four in that cluttered office, much has 26


changed. When Dunlevy pulls in behind our vehicles, the side of his vehicle reveals a company logo emblazoned on the doors. Behind him, a string of vehicles lines up. By the time his whole team arrives, more than triple the amount of people are there in SkySkopes attire than there was a year ago at his offices. As we talk over the photoshoot plans, a steady stream of young men continuously walks back and forth from our shoot location to their trucks and cars, bringing with them high-end UAS equipment with each long-walk. Today, Dunlevy says he is still performing one-and-twoflight jobs like he was a year ago, but he has also established longterm contracts with clients seeking UAS services. The company has performed more than 200 commercial jobs with many more scheduled this year. Their office in the Center of Innovation is

EARLY DAYS: In 2014, Dunlevy's team was small, humble and hungry to work with anyone that would help his team find a reason to fly.

still there, still cluttered with UAS equipment, but also expanding. Across the hall, Dunlevy has secured another office suite for his business development team so that they can stay separate from the noise and daily workings of the operations and pilots team led by Griffith. Ryan Ach, a former student of Dunlevy’s has taken over the business development role for the company and helped expand the list of SkySkopes clients into a multi-stage, multi-end-user list. The company has flown thermal payloads to inspect solar panels for warranty claims, run hyperspectral sensors for survey work, captured vegetative analysis data and construction update imagery, videoed weddings and other buildings for marketing. For ESPN, Dunlevy’s team helped put together a piece for the NFL during the NFL Draft. When the lo-

cal newspaper runs a UAS story, chances are Dunlevy is in the story or is somehow linked to it. When a big data company needed a UAS flight team to fly wind turbines to test its data analytics software, they called SkySkopes. When Xcel Energy, a major utility provider based in Denver decided to test small UAVs in its regional operations, they used SkySkopes to fly. Dunlevy bills clients on a flat rate basis or by the hour. “We just want to be easy to work with,” he says. Data firms and payload providers have flown into North Dakota this summer just to meet with him regarding their hopes of working with his team. Even though the revenue is now consistent and a hierarchy of roles established, he still partners with regional firms and flies pro bono when there’s a chance to do something he deems as a first feather for the proverbial achievement cap. “If you can be first to do something” he says, while describing his affinity for history, “how can you pass that up?”

July 2017

As the era of 333 exemptions comes to an end this year, Dunlevy knows the competition with other UAS service providers will increase. Since the FAA first starting issuing 333 exemptions, more than 5,000 have been granted. By the time it stops issuing 333 exemptions, there could be more than 6,000. And, after Part 107 becomes official this year, entities no longer have to earn an exemption to fly commercially for the same client’s providers like Dunlevy are going after. For some flights, like beyond visual line of sight work, night flights, multi-UAS and others, the FAA will still require Dunlevy and the rest to file for permission.


While Dunlevy believes his 333, like the 6,000 others out there, will provide a competitive advantage to bigger clients looking for long-term work, he knows certain segments of the UAS service industry will be flooded, namely aerial cinematography. The thought of a flooded market hasnâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;t deterred him from talking of the future with optimism. In fact, one of his greatest qualities, he believes, is his ability to stick to the everyday grind of running a business, searching for operational efficiencies and making flights pay. With Part 107 here, Dunlevy says he has never been so excited. Like several of his peers operating in the region or those he speaks with in other regions, Dunlevy seems to bring a clear vision and sentiment to his re-

spective team that is easily identifiable. â&#x20AC;&#x153;We arenâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;t operating on faith anymore,â&#x20AC;? he says. â&#x20AC;&#x153;You can see a significant increase in our moral.â&#x20AC;? The teamâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s optimism, combined with a bit of ambition and a growing client list seems to be pushing Dunlevy to speak, and little-by-little, plan for the future of SkySkopes. In an effort to create a competitive edge, Dunlevy has invested heavily in pilot training. â&#x20AC;&#x153;Our greatest assets really are our people,â&#x20AC;? he says. Several pilots employed by Dunlevy have been sent to multiple training locations. At Kansas State University, the team got flight training in the DJI S-1000. At Embry Riddle University, the team learned about aerospace regulations and safety management. In Ohio, at Sinclair College, the team flew specific platforms new

to the team. In North Dakota, the team brought in SkyOp to hone their craft of flying indoors and around obstacles. The team has also been too or made plans to Texas and Nevada for training. The goal is to create an unrivaled pool of pilots certified by the top training networks in the entire U.S., he says. As the team continues to build its skills and networkâ&#x20AC;&#x201D;in part, through its training missionsâ&#x20AC;&#x201D;with UAS experts around the country, Dunlevy is also preparing to expand his offices outside of North Dakota. The team is also working to begin the path towards earning angel or Series A investment into the SkySkopes vision. â&#x20AC;&#x153;The scale and vision we have for the company now,â&#x20AC;? he adds, â&#x20AC;&#x153;requires outside investment.â&#x20AC;? Until Dunlevyâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s team

reaches that point, he will keep investing in new equipment, more business development, expanded flight time and even more training. The time to be a company like hisâ&#x20AC;&#x201D;a UAS service providerâ&#x20AC;&#x201D; has never been better, he proclaims when we asked him how he views his place in the UAS world. â&#x20AC;&#x153;We [successful UAS firms] are the pioneers,â&#x20AC;? he says. â&#x20AC;&#x153;Every time we fly a high-profile job or others see what we can do, it happens without fail: Our phone rings with a new contract.â&#x20AC;? Author: Luke Geiver Editor, UAS Magazine 701-738-4944

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With a global demand for qualified pilots, a major UAS manufacturer is establishing a new training center By Patrick C. Miller


On July 28, General Atomics made the first flight from its new UAS Flight Training Academy at the Grand Sky UAS Business and Aviation Park located at the Grand Forks (N.D.) Air Force Base. During a ceremony at Grand Sky, a General Atomics Predator took off from the baseâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s runway and was flown by a crew in a ground control station inside a temporary hanger. North Dakota marked two unmanned aircraft systems (UAS) milestones in late July with General Atomics Aeronautical Systems Inc. ramping up training operations and the University of North Dakota dedicating a new aerospace education facility. Construction of General Atomics state-of-the-art, 16,000 square-foot Flight Operations Center began in November 2015 and is expected to conclude in spring 2017. The academy will operate year-round, offering


READY FOR TAKEOFF: A Predator goes through its preflight checks in preparation for taking off from the General Atomics UAS Training Academy at the Grand Sky UAS Business and Aviation Park in North Dakota. PHOTO: UAS MAGAZINE

UAS PILOT TRAINING: General Atomics trains UAS pilots and sensor operators using the Predator Mission Aircrew Training System (PMATS) at its classroom facilities and office space in Grand Forks, North Dakota. PHOTO: UAS MAGAZINE


PILOT-FOCUSED: Everett Dunnick, General Atomics program manager for international systems, is leading General Atomic's efforts to bring-in and train UAS pilots. PHOTO: UAS MAGAZINE

TEMPORARY QUARTERS: The General Atomics UAS Training Academy currently operates out of a temporary hanger adjacent to the Grand Forks Air Force Base. Construction on a permanent facility should be completed next year. PHOTO: UAS MAGAZINE

SOARING TO NEW HEIGHTS: The University of North Dakota John D. Odegard School of Aerospace Sciences dedicated Robin Hall in July, a $25 million building that contains UAS lab, research and education facilities. PHOTO: UAS MAGAZINE



multiple courses and providing training for dozens of students at a time. David Alexander, president of General Atomics aircraft systems, says a combination of factors led the company to establish the academy in North Dakota, citing the relatively uncluttered airspace and the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) UAS test site in the state. “The FAA has designated this as a welcome place for UAVs,” he says. “That’s one reason why we’re here. It’s a place to have airspace that’s free to fly and local industry to support us expanding our business here. The hope is that we can fill in and train a hundred pilots a year and support all our ongoing operations.” “Schedule certainty is one of the most important things for companies like General Atomics that are testing or training,” says Tom Swoyer, Grand Sky Development Co. president. “They need to know that their aircraft is going to be able to take off as planned. The people at Grand Forks Air Force Base have been fabulous to work with at integrating our operations into their schedule.” According to Everett Dunnick, General Atomics program manager for international systems, the academy will train air crews consisting of a pilot and sensor operator to meet General Atomics’ needs, as well as the needs of NATO allies flying the company’s remotely piloted aircraft (RPA) and other countries flying export versions of the aircraft. “One of the things we have on our plate here is to work very closely with the state of North Dakota, the Northern Plains UAS

UAS AIRCREW TO GO: Responding to customer demand for more aircrew, the General Atomics UAS Training Academy has begun training pilots and sensor operators for its Predator remotely piloted aircraft. PHOTO: UAS MAGAZINE

Test Site, the FAA, the Grand Sky business park and the Air Force base to make real progress on UAS integration in the national airspace and doing so safely, consistent with all the best practices,” Dunnick says. The UND John D. Odegard School of Aerospace Sciences on July 26 dedicated Robin Hall, a $25 million, 66,000 square foot building to support the university’s UAS Center of Excellence. The four-story building houses a UAS flight lab, a UAS simulator room, classrooms, student study areas and offices. “The students, the faculty and staff will use this building to our utmost capability to make sure that we provide the leadership needed, not only in unmanned systems as we go forward for this country and the world, but in aviation, aerospace, space studies, earth systems science, computer science and atmospheric sciences that we have in this college,” says Paul Lindseth, dean of the aerospace school. Speaking at both events, U.S. Senator John Hoeven, R-N.D., announced that he’s working with the FAA to obtain a statewide certificate of authorization (COA) to allow beyond-visual-line-of-sight flying for UAS, which he said could happen before year’s end. He also said he was in discussions with NASA to conduct UAS traffic management research at the Northern Plains UAS Test Site. Author: Patrick C. Miller Staff Writer, UAS Magazine 701-738-4923


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UAS Magazine - Quarter 3  

Aerial Imagery and Videography: Real Estate, News Gathering, Filmmaking, Insurance

UAS Magazine - Quarter 3  

Aerial Imagery and Videography: Real Estate, News Gathering, Filmmaking, Insurance