This article is an excerpt from a larger article on Aerospace Christchurch website, linked here
Using flight autonomy to Take the Pilot out of the Plane, saving people and the planet.
Skybase is an Advanced Air Mobility (AAM) company, founded in Christchurch in 2017, by highly qualified aviation experts with extensive military and civil aerospace technology development experience. The founding team of Michael, Maēlle, and Eric has cumulatively over 65 years in the aerospace industry.
Skybase are currently flight testing our market-entry product, called SOFI, to ‘Take the Pilot out of the Plane’ by upgrading existing aeroplanes to give them ‘drone capabilities’. Why do this? There are thousands of aeroplanes which sit on the ground for more than half of the time, particularly in Agriculture and Aerial Firefighting. The aircraft are limited to flying in daytime and in fine weather, making the return on investment for aircraft operators much slower than necessary.
By unlocking flight at night or poor weather, SOFI delivers double the utilisation of the same aeroplane, thereby increasing food-crop production and decreasing carbon emissions from wildfires. SOFI offers a big opportunity for aircraft operators to gain more than 180% increase (i.e. nearly triple) in bottom-line profitability, plus a massive increase in safety for the pilot, who is now safely monitoring the ‘aeroplane-drone’ from the ground and not being exposed to spray or smoke. To minimise downside risk, the original features of the aircraft are preserved, so whenever required, customers can still fly their aircraft the ‘traditional’ way by leaving SOFI in the ‘off’ position. Skybase expects to have their first customers flying their SOFI-equipped aircraft in 2023, in many countries around the world.