We talked to Jon Hegranes, Founder & CEO of Aloft (formerly Kittyhawk) about the role of his company in GUTMA and the challenges ahead for the drone industry.

What is Aloft and what is its role and involvement within GUTMA?

Aloft is the market leader in drone airspace systems & UTM technologies. Our solutions make it easy to fly safely and operate compliantly at scale. Our patented dynamic airspace platform connects the largest drone network — spanning recreational users, enterprise customers, regulators, and UTM partners across the globe. Aloft is also the largest FAA-approved UAS Service Supplier (USS), powering 70% of LAANC airspace authorization requests.

We view the potential of GUTMA to be hugely impactful across the world, and over the years of our membership have looked to play a role that a) increases the stature of the organization and b) pushes the reality of UTM from standards and theories to live production environments.

According to you, what are the biggest industry challenges at the moment?

The biggest challenge continues to be scale flight volumes and use cases. It’s not a matter of hardware, but the missing digital infrastructure – namely UTM – and the role and relationship of UTM providers and regulators.

As it relates to UTM, the next set of challenges we’ll need to develop are the touch points of collaboration and associated business models that enable verified USS’s to work together to increase airspace safety, improve situational awareness, and enable airspace optimization.

The only way our industry gets to tens of millions of daily drone flights is secure, collaborative digital infrastructure, with UTM being foundational.

A word about the need to be working along the full ecosystem/value-chain?

Any individual company or organization can run their own UTM. That’s much of what we’ve enabled today, where a city, department of transportation, or private company is able to plan, route, deconflict and optimize their internal operations for maximum efficiency, safety, and compliance.

Ultimately different operators, facilitated by USS providers, will need to collaborate. This requires legal and business frameworks to facilitate the flow of data and commerce.


Jon is the Founder & CEO of Aloft. Jon is a certified commercial drone pilot as part of FAA Part 107, serves on the board of the Commercial Drone Alliance, and is an active member of other industry groups including GUTMA, NBAA Emerging Tech, the FAA’s Drone Advisory Committee (DAC) and working groups, the FAA’s BVLOS ARC, and is a founding member and data working group chair of the FAA UAS Safety Team. He’s a self-taught iOS developer, writes about drone topics for technology news outlets including VentureBeat, TechCrunch, and Forbes, and regularly speaks at industry events such as Commercial UAV Expo, 2B Ahead Future Congress, and DJI AirWorks. Jon graduated from TCU with a major in finance and received his MBA from Thunderbird Global School of Management (ASU).

“We’re building for a world where non-“aviation” companies become the biggest users of aviation. This is not only where legacy aviation and logistics are disrupted, but new business models are created.”


Aloft (formerly Kittyhawk) provides easy-to-use mobile apps and desktop tools that keep teams flying safe and their data organized. It’s one connected platform to navigate airspace, maintain aircraft and manage aviators. Aloft’s dynamic airspace platform connects the largest drone network – spanning recreational, enterprise, and UTM drone operators and customers.

Aloft is an FAA-approved UAS Service Supplier (USS). That means that the company has met FAA requirements for secure data exchange, operating rules and airspace safety. Over 400,00 flights have flown inside the Aloft platform.

Visit Aloft.ai and follow the company on LinkedIn and Twitter.