A data dump from drone software company Aloft Technologies suggests that not only is the drone industry getting pretty huge, but Aloft itself has a huge hand in it.
The company this week released a few milestone numbers around its applications and UTM platforms. Among some of the standouts:
- Aloft recorded half a million LAANC authorizations.
- Commercial airspace authorizations grew 102% year-over-year.
- Total authorizations grew 58% year-over-year.
- 20 million all-time airspace searches in its B4UFly app.
- One million monthly airspace events on Aloft’s UTM data network.
- 300% quarter-over-quarter commercial revenue growth.
Aloft is a drone startup working on building airspace management software. If Aloft feels familiar but you can’t quite place it, that’s because Aloft is the company formerly known as Kittyhawk (the company went through a major rebranding in June 2021).
A deeper dive into the Aloft data
Those numbers above provide a glimpse into the state of drones and the state of the company. But the entire story is more extensive than that. Let’s dig in to those numbers above:
Aloft has a huge market share of LAANC authorizations
The data set that perhaps stands out most is that Aloft recorded a half-million LAANC authorizations. In February, the FAA announced that, over all time, a collective 1 million LAANC airspace authorizations had been issued across all LAANC providers. This suggests a huge market share for Aloft, with at the very least a plurality of all airspace authorizations to its name (back in 2020, the company verified that it was behind more than 50% of all LAANC airspace authorizations).
LAANC is short for ‘Low Altitude Authorization and Notification Capability.’ It’s a critical capability because, typically without it, drones cannot fly in controlled airspace (such as near airports) without permission. Prior to LAANC, permission was relatively difficult to get, requiring time and paperwork. With LAANC, approved partners like Aloft can issue near real-time approval to fly in many types of controlled airspace to most of its users.
Also in June, the company crossed a milestone when its UTM data network surpassed one million monthly airspace events. ‘Airspace events’ is shorthand for any sort of UTM-related action on its service, including airspace searches, flights, missions and LAANC authorizations.
And more market share means more money. Aloft didn’t disclose exact dollar figures, but the company said it saw 300% quarter-over-quarter commercial revenue growth, marking the largest expansion of the platform in company history.
June was a big month for drones in general
Sure, June 2022 was certainly a record month for Aloft, which said total authorizations grew 58% versus June 2021. But it’s not just that Aloft is taking market share from other companies. It looks likes drone use overall is increases, considering that commercial airspace authorizations grew 102% between June 2021 and June 2022.
The latest from the B4UFly app
Aloft is a private company, but it works closely with the Federal Aviation Administration to power the agency’s B4UFly application.
The B4UFly app was launched many, many years ago by the FAA to “help drone operators operate compliantly with FAA rules and regulations.” Its primary function was to help drone pilots know where they could and couldn’t fly.
But after much criticism for being glitchy, confusing and cumbersome (not to mention a 1.5 star rating to its name), FAA sought out private entities to help fix it. Kittyhawk (now Aloft) took over, and in 2019 relaunched the app.
These days, the app has grown and improved, with Aloft constantly releasing new updates like a Notify & Fly feature, which allows pilots to anonymously share their flight intent and location with other pilots.
Aloft said that, since its inception, all-time airspace searches have since crossed the 20 million milestone. Aloft didn’t break down exact numbers by month, but it did say that the app saw exponential growth. It also saw that the Notify & Fly feature (which launched in September 2021) saw record usage in May 2022, and again records were topped in June 2022. What’s more, usage in June 2022 was 3x higher than what it was in March 2022.
What’s next for Aloft? All about Aloft Geo
After hitting so many milestones and breaking so many records, Aloft still isn’t slowing down. Right now the company seems to be focusing on its latest product launch called Aloft Geo. This is a feature that allows government and authoritative agencies (ranging from local law enforcement and first responders to federal agencies like NASA and Department of Homeland Security) to publish air and ground space advisories to the Aloft UTM data network. Aloft Geo combines those advisories with other authoritative data sets, as well as its own airspace restriction and flight activity data — in theory making Aloft one of the most comprehensive sources of what’s happening in the airspace given its mix of official data with crowdsourced information.
Of course, Aloft Geo only works if it has active participants, but that doesn’t seem to be a struggle for the company, which said it already added 50 verified agencies to its user base within the first month of launch.
“This extension of Aloft’s data crowdsourcing initiative is having a big impact by allowing authoritative agencies to directly manage and publish their data to the largest network of drone pilots and airspace stakeholders,” according to a statement from Aloft.
And Aloft is already being used in critical areas and for functions ranging from public safety to wildlife and environmental protection, such as a project at the Monterey Bay National Marine Sanctuary in California.
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