Props for Racing and Camera Drones

What props would you use for a racing drone versus a camera drone? In general, are there particular things that a pilot should look for in a prop?

High thrust, responsiveness, and durability are key attributes of racing propellers

In answer to your first question, not all props are designed the same. The technology is so advanced that, nowadays, we develop specific props that are optimized for particular applications. Racing propellers, for example, are expected to provide extreme power and control regardless of the situation. Drone racers push their hardware to the limit

every time they are in the air, so high thrust, responsiveness, and durability are a must. In contrast, camera drones are all about the healthy balance between efficiency and thrust. A few more minutes of flight time matters. The design and manufacturing processes of these various types of propellers are completely different from the very beginning.

Camera-drone props, like the ones here, offer a good balance between efficiency and thrust.

Regarding your second question, the answer is “yes!” Probably the most important part of the propeller is its design. The overall shape and particular airfoils used in different prop sections as well as special features and optimizations for reducing noise, tip vortexes, compensation for dynamic prop deflection, and built-in strength are crucial. All these characteristics require just the right material with the perfect balance of stiffness, tensile strength, and impact resistance.

Propeller development and production is a complex and challenging task, merging various industries, knowledge, and technologies. Our job is to push the limits of what is possible and create the best propellers for each particular application and requirements.

Boris Iskrev, CEO of Windsor Propeller

The UAS Pilots Code – Best Practices in a Disruptive Landscape

Michael S. Baum, JD, MBA, ATP

The National Airspace System (NAS) has seen over a century of improvements to flight safety, but it now faces profound changes. There is a massive, accelerating influx of unmanned aircraft systems (UAS), and new, inexperienced UAS pilots and operators, that must effectively—and safely—integrate with manned aviation. There is, of course, only one NAS. We all share it, and our lives and safety depend on its integrity.

These new UAS operations reflect unprecedented levels of experiment and innovation. Novel aircraft and applications are entering the NAS, and UAS are rapidly advancing toward operations beyond visual line-of-sight, semi- or fully autonomous operations, and the carriage of passengers.

UAS integration to the NAS is proving disruptive to long-established safety practices, and poses ethical, technical and regulatory challenges. This environment underscores the adage that the law lags behind technology. There is a need for clear and fundamental guidance for the UAS community as it strives for operational safety and professionalism.

In response, the Aviators Code Initiative and University Aviation Association recently released the UAS Pilots Code. The Code offers recommendations to advance UAS safety, airmanship, and professionalism, providing guidance for new UAS aviators who may be unfamiliar with aviation safety culture and practices.

The Code is designed to foster a common understanding across a highly diverse user community, guiding UAS pilots and operators toward an understanding of established aviation safety practices, informing manned pilots of the basics of unmanned aviation, and assisting regulators and flight safety organizations. The UAS Pilots Code is also forward-looking, anticipating development of new, more complex and automated operations and systems.

The Code offers broad guidance—a set of values—to help UAS pilots confront real-world challenges. It will help pilots and operators develop standard operating procedures (SOPs), effective risk management, and safety management systems (SMS).

Because UAS pilot certification typically does not require formal flight instruction, there is an acute need for non-regulatory operational guidance. The Code emphasizes self-training and education under the guidance of experienced UAS pilots or mentors.

The UAS Pilots Code presents safety, training, risk management, and technology as principles in seven sections: (1) General Responsibilities of UAS Pilots, (2) Manned Aircraft and People on the Surface, (3) Training and Proficiency, (4) Security and Privacy, (5) Environmental Issues, (6) Use of Technology, and (7) Advancement of UAS Aviation. The principles are illustrated by sample recommended practices that provide extensive guidance to aid in implementation. The Code is customizable so that it can suit any particular operation.

The UAS Pilots Code is offered in three versions: an annotated version intended for managers, policy administrators or instructors, a condensed version intended for pilot use, and a one-page introductory abbreviated version.

The UAS Pilots Code is a unique, timely and authoritative tool, the product of extensive research and expert peer-review. It should serve as a model for developing UAS standards and safety practice. We recommend that you evaluate and adapt the UAS Pilots Code for your own operation. It is available without charge at

Introducing Kittyhawk Insights

There is an old adage amongst pilots: Experience is the best teacher, but learning from other people’s experience is the best way to learn.

Kittyhawk powers a multitude of enterprise drone programs worldwide. We’ve been at this for over 3 years and often get questions from our newer enterprise customers about what “normal” looks like, or if we have any values that they can use to set some commonsense baselines with.

We’ve taken the years of second-by-second anonymized telemetry for DJI and derived insights from them that can help inform your enterprise’s drone policy.

Curious about what constitutes “low” for GPS Satellite reception? How about an average flight time? Or even the prevalence of a specific aircraft? We’ll be covering it all. Real insights, from real data, flown on real missions.

We’ll be releasing new insights throughout the coming months and if there is something you’d be curious to know, drop us a line.

Tune into tomorrow for our first insight!


  1. Is Kittyhawk going to be sharing customer specific information?

Kittyhawk customer data is sacred and is not shared with anyone unless specified by the customer. The insights we’ll be sharing are all non-customer identifiable. As we add more and more hardware support to Kittyhawk, we’ll be able to even abstract the hardware layer.

2. Will Kittyhawk be including editorial with the Insights?

We think that open conversations are the best conversations. We’ll be including why we chose the particular metric that we did, how it relates to your operations at scale, and some suggestions on how to optimize it. Nothing will ever be perfect, but that doesn’t mean you can’t make it better.

3. Have you verified this data with Six Sigma, a peer reviewed program, and had it signed off on personally by Sully Sullenberger, Patty Wagstaff and Elon Musk?

We did our best to make sure this data was accurate and precise but it’s possible that something might have sneaked by us. Do you see an egregious mistake? An entirely wrong scale being used? A value off by a factor of 10? Something metric that should be standard? Let us know, we strive to be accurate and precise.

Terabee -Obstacle avoidance for indoor drone flight


In this use case you’ll see TeraRanger Tower and TeraRanger Evo enabling obstacle avoidance for indoor drone flight (GPS-denied). A single TeraRanger Evo controls the altitude of the drone whilst TeraRanger Tower prevents the drone from flying into static and dynamic obstacles.

This configuration is compatible with Pixhawk running ArduCopter. See our detailed post here for full setup details and instructions.

If you require robust solutions obstacle avoidance for indoor drone flight, please contact us. We will be happy to explore your requirements with you.

Royal Canadian Navy to Field AeroVironment Puma II AE with Mantis i45 Sensor Aboard Coastal Defence Vessels

AeroVironment, Inc. (NASDAQ: AVAV), a global leader in unmanned aircraft systems (UAS) for both defense and commercial applications, and MDA, a Maxar Technologies company, announced the Royal Canadian Navy (RCN) has acquired the AeroVironmentPuma™ II AE, maritime mini unmanned aircraft system, for fielding aboard RCN Maritime Coastal Defence Vessels (MCDV). The Puma II AE systems will include the Mantis i45 sensor and a 360-degree antenna system. MDA partnered with AeroVironment to satisfy the requirement of the Department of National Defence of Canada for the Maritime Miniature Unmanned Aircraft System (MMUAS).

“The addition of our Mantis i45 sensor and 360-degree antenna system expands the capability of Puma II AE to support maritime operations. This solution also builds on AeroVironment’s extensive operational experience with small UAS to provide the Royal Canadian Navy with a low-cost, hand-launched capability that is optimized for contested environments,” said Kirk Flittie, vice president and general manager of AeroVironment’s Unmanned Aircraft Systems business segment. “AeroVironment’s small UAS have helped transform the way U.S. and allied forces plan, train, equip and operate. Fielding Puma II AE to the Canadian Navy allows interoperability with NATO forces and supports coalition mission integration,” said Flittie.

Canada previously acquired AeroVironment’s Raven® UAS and its defense forces have employed Raven systems extensively.

RCN’s adoption of the Puma II AE marks another step in the growing need and fielding of MMUAS for the international surface combatant and coastal craft market. With the Family of Systems (FOS) concept, customers can add other AeroVironment UAS that will augment capabilities and utilize the same ground control station and software for added simplicity and efficiency.

AeroVironment developed the Puma AE system to win a 2008 United States Special Operations Command (USSOCOM) competitive program of record and subsequently supplied the system to the U.S. Navy Expeditionary Combat Command Coastal Riverine Forces, the US Army for convoy and ground troop support and the US Marine Corps. The Navy procured Puma AE systems for use aboard Patrol Craft and also deployed them on a U.S. Navy Expeditionary Fast Transport (T-EPF) ship in support of counter organized crime operations in the Caribbean. The Puma AE is also being deployed by multiple international partners.

The United States Department of Defense established the designation RQ-20B for the block 2 Puma AE small UAS. The block 2 Puma AE system includes a more powerful and lighter propulsion system, lighter and stronger airframe, long-endurance battery, precision inertial navigation system and an improved user interface. The all- environment Mantis i45 gimbal sensor suite for Puma AE delivers a dramatic leap in small UAS image resolution and ISR capability.

Taoglas Launches Revolutionary Lightweight, Rugged Antennas for Automotive, Drone Markets

Taoglas, a leading provider of IoT and automotive antenna and RF solutions, today at Mobile World Congress 2018 introduced its patent-pending TerrablastÔ range of antennas, a revolutionary, polymer-based series of patch antennas that are 30 percent lighter than their ceramic counterparts and extremely resistant to fracture upon impact. The combination makes Terrablast a perfect fit for the automotive and unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) markets, where impacts are possible, but antenna performance cannot be compromised.

Unlike traditional patch antennas, which are ceramic, Terrablast uses a new class of Taoglas polymer dielectric material composed of glass-reinforced epoxy laminate. The addition of the polymer to the blend makes the antenna extremely lightweight, yet impact resistant. The Terrablast antennas are designed to withstand drops, falls and impacts, making them ideal for applications such as UAVs, where the antenna’s mechanical robustness following potential impact is critical.

The Terrablast patch antennas are also typically 30-35 percent lighter than traditional patches. In drone applications, where weight over battery life is critical, each gram reduced enhances battery life.

“Taoglas is leading the charge in material science advancement for the antenna industry, and our new Terrablast antennas are the latest innovation we’re introducing to the market,” said Ronan Quinlan, co-CEO and co-founder of Taoglas. “A variety of industries and applications, especially the automotive and drone markets, will benefit from Terrablast’s high-performance capabilities in a lightweight, impact-resistant form factor.”

The first antennas in the Terrablast range are a 25 mm embedded 2.4 GHz patch antenna and a 35mm embedded GPS patch antenna. The circular polarized design of the 2.4GHz patch ensures maximum performance for constantly moving mobile applications where the orientation to the transmitter or receiver frequently changes. The antenna weighs just 5.6g compared to an equivalent ceramic patch of 8.5g, making it an ideal weight-saving substitute for ceramic patches in UAV applications.

The 35mm GPS/GLONASS/BeiDou patch antenna has extremely high efficiency of over 70 percent across all bands, improving time to first fix (TTFX). At just 10g, the 3.5mm-thick patch is 5.5g lighter than typical ceramic GNSS patches.

All Terrablast antennas undergo rigorous temperature, vibration and impact tests, exceed the highest ISO 16750 standards, and are manufactured in Taoglas’ purpose-built facilities in Taiwan and the United States.

For more information about the Terrablast antenna range, visit, or visit Taoglas at Mobile World Congress in Barcelona February 26-March 1 in Hall 5, Stand 5I10.

About Taoglas

Taoglas provides advanced antenna and RF solutions to the world’s leading wireless and IoT companies. With six world-class design, support and test centers in Ireland, Germany, Taiwan, and the USA, Taoglas works with its customers to provide the best solution for their unique antenna and RF challenges, quickly and easily. In-house manufacturing in Taiwan and USA enable us to deliver the highest quality products. Our team of professionals live and breathe RF solutions, with expertise and experience across different wireless and IoT use cases, from LTE to GNSS, DSRC, and NFC and beyond to 5G. This expertise is proven in the huge number of success stories across a variety of applications, including Telematics, Automotive, Metering, Smart Grid, Wearables, Medical Devices, Remote Monitoring, and High-Speed Video Broadcasting. For more information, visit

Wingtra selects Septentrio GNSS board for WingtraOne PPK VTOL

Belgian GNSS receiver manufacturer Septentrio is delighted to announce selection by Swiss drone manufacturer Wingtra to supply GNSS OEM receiver boards and PPK processing software for the newly launched WingtraOne PPK drone. The combination of VTOL (vertical take-off and landing) technology and a high-spec PPK (Post-Process Kinematics) brings wide-area coverage at ultra-high precision.

“With the WingtraOne PPK, we can offer a world first in drone photogrammetry–wide coverage at ultra-high precision. In a single one-hour flight, the WingtraOne can cover 130 ha (320 acres) delivering mappping with GSDs below 1 cm/px (0.4 in/px) with absolute accuracy down to 1.27 cm (0.5 in)”, said Armin Ambühl, CTO of Wingtra. He continued, “WingtraOne’s advantage is twofold: it combines VTOL with the latest PPK technology from Septentrio. With VTOL we can offer the best of both worlds: multirotors and fixed-wings. Vertical take-off and landing means hands-free operation and a smoother ride for the on-board camera payload. Secondly, efficient flying in fixed-wing mode means far greater coverage than any comparable multirotor.”

Gustavo Lopez, Product Manager at Septentrio said, “We are proud and excited to be part of this innovative project with Wingtra pushing the boundaries of aerial photogrammetry. The WingtraOne incorporates our AsteRx-m2 UAS OEM board and, photogrammetry applications requiring high-precision, low-latency positioning are what it does best. The board is specifically designed for quick and easy integration and, with Septentrio’s world-first, multi-frequency PPK, cm-level precision can now reach the parts dual-constellation solutions feared to tread.”

Following a flight, the GNSS data of the WingtraOne is processed offline using Septentrio’s PPK software. This combines the drone data with correction data from a nearby reference receiver to get accurate cm-level geolocations for every photograph. The on-board high-resolution Sony RX1RII camera, AsteRx-m2 UAS receiver board combined with Septentrio’s PPK library and Pix4D photogrammetry processing software are together able to produce ground precisions of 1.3 cm (0.5 in) horizontal and 2.3 cm (0.9 in) vertical.

About Wingtra

Wingtra develops, produces and commercializes high precision VTOL drones that collect survey-grade aerial data. Wingtra entered the market in early 2017 and has been selling globally ever since. Recently the company has raised additional $5.8M to meet the demand in 2018 and partnered with one of the biggest surveying equipment dealers in US – RDO Integrated Controls. More information about Wingtra on

About Septentrio

Septentrio designs, manufactures and sells high-precision, multi-frequency, multi-constellation GPS/GNSS equipment for use in demanding applications. Septentrio products are used in a wide variety of industries including marine, construction, agriculture, survey and mapping, geographic information systems (GIS) and unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs). Septentrio receivers deliver consistently accurate and precise GNSS positioning scalable to centimetrelevel and designed to perform solidly in the most challenging environments. Septentrio receivers are available as OEM boards, housed receivers and smart antennas.

Septentrio is committed to providing products that are easy to use and straightforward to integrate into existing setups and workflows. A team of experienced application engineers in Europe, North America and Asia are on hand to assist users at every step of their integration journey and for the lifetime of the product afterwards. Septentrio is headquartered in Leuven, Belgium and has offices in Torrance, California, and Hong Kong as well as partners around the world. To learn more about Septentrio and its products, visit:

Drone Review: TobyRich SmartPlane Pro FPV

The SmartPlane Pro FPV represents a blend of cutting-edge FPV tech with a traditional winged park-flier airframe and smartphone control interface to create a new kind of flying experience. Constructed primarily out of Durinum, a high-tech foam, the SmartPlane Pro comes completely assembled and includes everything you need to get in the air.

Drone Review: TobyRich SmartPlane Pro FPV

Drone Review: TobyRich SmartPlane Pro FPV – at a glance


Included in the set is the plane itself—a conventional high-wing 3-channel monoplane driven by a single propeller in the nose, powered by a geared micro motor—fully assembled, along with a viewscreen that connects to the FPV camera mounted in a pod under the fuselage. That screen can be inserted into the included headset to be worn as FPV goggles. The flight battery slots directly into a port on the top of the plane between the wings, and the rudder and elevator surfaces are controlled by magnetic actuators. The screen and the flight battery (a 3.7V 185mAh LiPo) are charged via conventional USB ports using included adapter cables. There is no controller; the plane is controlled using an Android or iPhone smart device and a freely downloadable SmartPlane Pro app. Flight can be accomplished using the phone’s internal gyroscope and touchscreen, or augmented with a joystick attachment that allows the phone to mimic a gaming controller. That app also includes what TobyRich refers to as its “interactive flight school” and a few preprogrammed commands allowing the plane to autonomously perform stunts like loops. In addition, the app provides three flight modes: a conventional Airplane mode; a slow-flying nose-high Helicopter mode; and a Hover mode, which positions the plane in full vertical orientation suspended by the prop. The plane is completely flight-ready and requires only charging of the flight battery, which takes about 20 minutes. The viewscreen takes about an hour to charge but is not required for basic (non-FPV) flight.

Aerial Recap

The SmartPlane Pro is compact. With a wingspan of just 30cm (11.8 inches) and an all-up weight of just 34g (about 1.2 oz.) the plane needs calm air to fly successfully regardless of the flight mode. TobyRich claims that it can be flown indoors, but given its speed and the smartphone interface, I would recommend against that—at least until you’ve become familiar with its responses. I flew mine with a Samsung Galaxy S7, and the level of control with a smartphone, while straightforward, is not particularly smooth. The suction-cup joystick attachment gives you slightly more precision, but the rudder and elevator actuators are not proportional and the control orientation is unconventional. The throttle is adjusted via the touchscreen under your left thumb, while elevator and rudder are via the joystick button to the right. Double-tapping your throttle finger switches to Heli mode, while Hover mode is accessed via a flip motion—which means you should land to switch to it. I got about five minutes of flight time. That can be extended to perhaps 10 to 12 minutes if you refrain from using the more power-hungry Heli and Hover modes.

The 720×576-pixel camera comes mounted to the belly and is protected by a plastic housing.

Aerial Recap

The SmartPlane Pro is compact. With a wingspan of just 30cm (11.8 inches) and an all-up weight of just 34g (about 1.2 oz.) the plane needs calm air to fly successfully regardless of the flight mode. TobyRich claims that it can be flown indoors, but given its speed and the smartphone interface, I would recommend against that—at least until you’ve become familiar with its responses. I flew mine with a Samsung Galaxy S7, and the level of control with a smartphone, while straightforward, is not particularly smooth. The suction-cup joystick attachment gives you slightly more precision, but the rudder and elevator actuators are not proportional and the control orientation is unconventional. The throttle is adjusted via the touchscreen under your left thumb, while elevator and rudder are via the joystick button to the right. Double-tapping your throttle finger switches to Heli mode, while Hover mode is accessed via a flip motion—which means you should land to switch to it. I got about five minutes of flight time. That can be extended to perhaps 10 to 12 minutes if you refrain from using the more power-hungry Heli and Hover modes.

Drone Review: TobyRich SmartPlane Pro FPV - Pro FPV Version

The Pro FPV version of the SmartPlane includes the plane, battery, charge cords, a display screen linked to the pod-mounted camera, and a headset for turning the screen into FPV goggles.

Bottom Line

There is no building involved, so you’re only a battery charge away from your initial flight. The Durinum foam is sturdy, so it will tolerate quite a bit while you get the feel of the plane. But you’ll want to get your bearings in a wide open space, and some previous flying experience is highly recommended.

Iridium CertusSM Readies for Takeoff with Aviation Service Providers

Iridium Communications Inc. (NASDAQ:IRDM) announced today that Honeywell Aerospace, SKYTRAC, Avitek and Navicom Aviation are the first Iridium Certus service providers to be selected for the aviation industry. As Iridium Certus service providers, each company will be able to offer the new, best-in-class broadband satellite connectivity to its customers. Ideal for commercial airliner flight deck communications, rotorcraft and both flight deck and cabin business jet connectivity, Iridium Certus will soon offer the industry’s fastest L-Band speeds. This will be delivered through small form factor, cost-effective antennas with the same reliable pole-to-pole coverage only provided by the Iridium® network.

A recognized leader in the aviation industry and long-time Iridium partner, Honeywell Aerospace products and services are found on virtually every commercial, defense and space aircraft. Honeywell Aerospace works to develop innovative solutions to increase aircraft efficiency, reduce pilot workload and improve passenger safety and comfort.

“Iridium Certus will extend Honeywell’s vision for the Connected Aircraft by enabling high-speed data rates for all aircraft types operating anywhere in the world,” said John Peterson, Honeywell’s senior director of services and connectivity. “Combining the capabilities of the new Iridium constellation with GoDirect’s Flight Services, Connected Maintenance, and Optimization Analytics will bring even greater operational efficiency for Honeywell’s thousands of airline, military, business and commercial operators.”

SKYTRAC provides performance trending, operations reporting, real-time asset tracking and situational awareness solutions to the aviation industry. SKYTRAC will extend Iridium Certus services to aviation partners as well as delivering the technology on their ISAT-200A hardware.

“Our mission is to drive flight safety and efficiency through streamlined air-to-ground connectivity. With its higher bandwidth, Iridium Certus will allow us to bring more power to recent innovations like real-time Health and Usage monitoring and weather to cockpit while also offering highest-quality voice services. SKYTRAC is proud to have been selected as one in a limited group of companies to offer Iridium Certus services direct to aviation clients,” said SKYTRAC President, Malachi Nordine.

Based in China, Avitek is a leading aviation solutions company that provides onboard communications, ADS-B, ACARS and Electronic Flight Bag services. Avitek has been instrumental in equipping airliners throughout China with Iridium satellite communications devices to meet the Airline Operational Communications voice mandate by the Civil Aviation Authority of China. The introduction of Iridium Certus will allow Avitek to enhance the capability of the data solutions it offers and improve flight standards and operations as a result.

Navicom Aviation, based in Japan, is dedicated to the safe and efficient operation of aircraft. With a large number of helicopters in Japan serving public safety efforts for police and fire departments and the Japanese Coast Guard, Navicom plays a vital role in ensuring their aircraft stay connected. Navicom will provide the Iridium Certus service in support of their goal to help improve flight support systems for the overall aviation industry.

Enabled by the Iridium NEXT satellite constellation, Iridium Certus will bring broadband functionality, with enterprise-grade quality of service, to the aviation industry. It will feature a range of throughput and service options that will enable everything from graphical weather reports, multi-user internet/VPN and Very Small Aperture Terminal (VSAT) redundancy to flight data recorder streaming, video conferencing, and, upon formal approval, safety services. The Iridium Certus high-gain antenna (HGA) solutions will provide data speed options of up to 704 Kbps, and eventually as high as approximately 1.4 Mbps following full Iridium NEXT deployment, with an antenna size of approximately 24 x 10 x 6cm, while the low-gain antenna (LGA) solutions will enable data speeds of up to 176 Kbps.

“Iridium Certus is poised to introduce a revolution in aircraft communications,” said Brian Pemberton, vice president strategic planning and general manager aviation at Iridium. “Iridium Certus leverages the inherent advantages of the Iridium network and architecture and combines that with enhanced capabilities of the Iridium NEXT constellation to redefine best-in-class aircraft connectivity. Iridium Certus not only satisfies the connectivity requirements for the flight deck but also serves as an ideal cabin connectivity solution for many business aviation users.”

Initial flight trials will take place later this year, with Iridium Certus commercial service introduction expected in mid-2019 for aviation users. Commercial service introduction for other verticals, such as maritime and land-mobile, is planned for mid-2018. Iridium NEXT is the Company’s next-generation satellite constellation. To date, there have been four successful Iridium NEXT launches, deploying more than half of the new constellation. Four additional launches are planned for 2018.

For more information about Iridium Certus, please visit

For more information about Iridium NEXT, please visit