Our Interviews 

Interview with Jay Forte of Sky-Futures

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Q. Could you tell us a bit about Sky-Futures?
Sky-Futures provides visual inspection and technical report writing using UAV technology and Oil and Gas industry experts. We have been operating globally for nearly four years with offices in London, Aberdeen, Malaysia and Norway. The Houston office opens tomorrow as we now have our permission to operate commercially in the US. Our safety procedures and operations manual have been proven with over 200 days of work performed last year with zero safety incidents. We look forward to bringing our safety record and expertise to the US and GOM.

Q. What types of drones are you making use of?
We buy our uavs from Ascending Technology, a German based company. We use the Falcon 8, Octocopter.

Q. How does the Section 333 Exemption benefit you and your customers?
Without the 333 Exemption we would not be allowed to operate commercially. We are the 46th company in the US to receive the exemption. This allows us to now approach potential customers with the assurance that we will be able to deliver work legally.

Q. What are the benefits of using drones for oil and gas inspections?
UAVs are safer, more efficient and cheaper than the current methods of industry inspections. No longer will rope access teams have to hang underneath platforms in a harness to perform inspections. These teams can focus on more important maintenance issues while the UAV hovers below taking HD images from angles that have never been seen before. UAVs are more efficient because they can capture in days what it takes rope access teams to inspect in weeks.

Let me be clear, we aren’t here to replace rope access, but to work with them. UaVs are not tactile so the actual repairs will still need to be accomplished by the rope access teams.  We are also cheaper. We have a small footprint with only a two man crew and uav kit. We are also offshore for a short period of time and can do all inspections while the platform continuous operation..

Q. You noted “Oil and Gas experience is already enhancing safety with proven savings of US $4m+ for offshore drone inspections. “, where do these statistics come from?
The $4M+ quote came from an actual client in the North Sea. Our UAVs can inspect a live flare tip meaning the platform doesn’t have to shut down production. If the platform has to shut down production to allow a person to inspect then the costs are astronomical.

Q. How do you see the drone/uav space evolving over the next 5 – 10 years?
Over the next 5-10 years UAVs will become a part of daily operations for many commercial industries, including Oil and Gas, Agriculture, security, real estate, movies, environmental monitoring and the list goes on. Congress and the FAA have realized that we are a little behind the rest of the world in the UAV sector and they are correcting course. In the last six months we went from zero companies being able to operate in the NAS to over 700 requests sitting on the FAAs desk. Its a daunting task to weave a new technology in to society but they are doing it deliberately and safely.

Q. Are you a drone hobbyist? If yes, what type of drone(s) do you have?
I am not a hobbyist but I do fly predator UAVs for the TX Guard. I have nearly 4000 hrs of unmanned time and before that I flew manned aircraft for the Air Force (2500 hrs).

Q. What question(s) should we have asked you?
Sky-Futures USA is very excited to be opening its doors in Houston and we will be continuously hiring as we gain work. Our goal is to be 50% veteran. Two of the three founders are ex-military and I am still serving, this is important to Sky-Futures as a whole.

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