VirtualAirBoss software handles the business side of UAS

By Patrick C. Miller | April 23, 2015

While many companies focus on developing the hardware that makes unmanned aerial systems (UAS) function safely, reliably and efficiently, Stuart Rudolph is focused on developing the software businesses can use to fit UAS into their operations.

The software solution from Smart C2—located in Grand Forks, North Dakota—is called VirtualAirBoss. Rudolph, the company’s CEO, described it as an easy-to-use, browser-based application that helps commercial aviation business owners manage their operations from end to end.

“We’re trying to become the QuickBooks of aviation—the business of aviation,” he said. “Our main focus is helping business people do their job and make it easier for them to gather the information that they need to be compliant while they’re flying.”

The goal is to create a program that enables a business to schedule, manage and maintain its flight operations assets, as well as collect, store and access the data it gathers.

“I take the business approach,” Rudolph said. “I put myself in the seat of the person who is running that company and then the seat of the people who do the work. That’s how we’ve designed the system. We’ve designed it from the user backwards—not from the technology forward—and that’s what makes it simple.”

FlyWorx LLC, a multi-state company that provides aerial imaging services and consulting for business and government, as well as unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) sales, service and flight training, is using VirtualAirBoss in its operations.

“It is easy to use, and collects all the information we need for planning our projects, scheduling equipment, capturing the imagery and securely delivering the results to our clients,” said Roman Molla, FlyWorx president. “And the bonus is that we can push a button and invoice right from the same system. I don’t know of anyone who is supporting an aerial imaging business like this.”

According to Rudolph, VirtualAirBoss is especially relevant now that the U.S. Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) has been granting many Section 333 waivers for commercial operations and approving more certificates of authorization (COAs) for broad areas of UAS research.

“We’ve created the automatic COA reporting,” he explained. “After every flight, you can fill out the requirements that you need in order to honor your COA. At the end of the month, you click on a button and it will automatically generate a master report for the FAA. Our whole approach is to make it easier.”

Rudolph said VirtualAirBoss is designed to be flexible for any business engaged in manned or unmanned aviation.

“The real value is that the software follows the process,” he said. “It’s very easy to configure our application.”

Besides planning and managing flight operations, another strength of VirtualAirBoss is its ability to assist users in accessing the data they gather.

“Essentially, a drone is used for data-gathering,” Rudolph noted. “The underlying business still needs to be managed, no matter what images are gathered.”

For example, in precision agriculture, he said historical data has as much value to farmers as current data.

“You need to have a baseline to compare it to,” Rudolph explained. “We allow them to catalog that data quite easily in our solution and get back to those images. They can keep them for years.”

Smart C2 is also involved in NASA’s Unmanned Aerial System Traffic Management Collaborative Testing program, providing real-time data that not only assists the agency in improving air traffic safety, but also helps enhance VirtualAirBoss.

“NASA is the right agency to do this,” Rudolph said. “They’re embracing input from the industry to help shape what we need for the future. Our involvement is very important because we feel that our users need to be involved—both manned and unmanned.”


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