Pilot Training System LLC plans to take to the air with its mobile platform, the Drone Flight Bag, early in 2017.
Founded in 2011 by Chris Johnson, PTS provides affordable training technologies for pilots. The Drone Flight Bag seeks to fulfill the need to certify pilots, assist in planning missions, manage the operation of the drone and secure data management and analytics.
PTS, which was profiled as part of a new business series done this fall by UW-Madison students, ensures safe, legal, ethical and efficient drone operations.
“The Drone Flight Bag is still in development. We hope to launch after the first of the year… because that is when these drones will be flying more,” Johnson said.
Johnson has been in the aviation realm for years, which has allowed him to gain valuable insight into what his customers want. However, the drone market is brimming with startup companies, but Johnson feels his experience will give him a wing up with his competition.
“I have a unique insight into a lot of competitor’s products through my consulting work. When start-up companies pitch my clients, I am usually on the investor side of the table. That gives me an understanding of the good things and the bad things about the products on the market and the needs of my clients,” explained Johnson.
Pilot Training System offers five components with its technology:
–First, it certifies pilots and prepare them to fly.
–Second is compliance, which involves an interactive checklist to ensure the pilot has checked the weather, the airspace and has gained permission to fly over private property.
–The third component assists with the emerging data problem that is associated with drones. PTS can easily send a user’s data to any local or cloud-based resource for storage.
–The fourth component is a safety management system, which logs hours of operation for each drone used by a company. This system helps a company keep track of wear and tear as well as where the drone was flown.
–The final component is an administration element that organizes where the drones are operated.
“The FAA has a big educational problem associated with (pilot certification) because you can buy these drones at Best Buy or Wal-Mart. There is nothing on the drone saying that you need a license if you are going to sell the video,” said Johnson.
The Drone Flight Bag is for enterprise companies looking for a drone-enabled service to make business processes safer. Insurance companies need to be certain that the operators and the drones they insure are in full compliance with Federal Aviation Administration regulations. This means the pilots are certified to fly and the drones are safe to operate.
“Our application will help ensure compliance and data management end-to-end and relieve a lot of the pain in operating drones at scale,” said Johnson.
Johnson hopes to capture 1 percent of the market with the Drone Flight Bag, as the FAA estimates that by 2020 there will be 2.7 million commercial drone pilots. At that point, the Drone Flight Bag could generate $16.2 million annually for PTS.
Currently, PTS is a self-funded company selling consulting services and drone flight services. Eventually, Johnson will be looking for a combination of sale contracts and angel investment, but he is focusing on reducing technology risk for his investors.
Johnson was selected to make a five-minute presentation during the Tech Council Investor Network track at the Wisconsin Early Stage Symposium, Nov. 16-17.
“It is a great platform for getting in front of an audience to practice your pitch. Get feedback from entrepreneurs, investors and service providers. It is also an advertising platform for what you are trying to do,” Johnson said.
–By Mikayla Simonson
Simonson is a student in the UW-Madison Department of Life Sciences Communication.