Make Flying Simple: Skyryse’s FlightOS Gives Pilots Control With Just a Tablet

Decerry Donato

Decerry Donato is dot.LA's Editorial Fellow. Prior to that, she was an editorial intern at the company. Decerry received her bachelor's degree in literary journalism from the University of California, Irvine. She continues to write stories to inform the community about issues or events that take place in the L.A. area. On the weekends, she can be found hiking in the Angeles National forest or sifting through racks at your local thrift store.

Make Flying Simple: Skyryse’s FlightOS Gives Pilots Control With Just a Tablet

"You ready Mr. iPad pilot," a Skyryse promotional video asks before a man who has never driven a helicopter takes off using a tablet.

The Hawthorne-based startups's technology, dubbed FlightOS, strips out many of the technical controls that helicopter pilots rely on and instead presents them in a simple tablet formula.

Co-founder and CEO Mark Groden hopes that it can make it easier for more people to fly helicopters while remaking the boundaries of urban mobility.

Skyryse recently inked a deal with Robinson Helicopters, one of the world's largest fixed-wing and rotorcraft manufacturers, to integrate Skyryse's system into its flagship model, the R66.

And on Wednesday, it announced a $200 million Series B funding round led by Fidelity Management & Research Company and Monashee Investment Management.

Skyryse will use the funding to propel the development of the company's flight automation system, FlightOS.

Groden, who became passionate about the utility of flight as a kid and went on to get a PhD in Engineering from the University of Michigan, started Skyryse during the last year of his thesis in 2016. Three years later, they moved the company to L.A. where they hope they can eventually add their technology into airplanes.

While the startup has simplified flying, it is still out of reach for many.

"You still need a pilot's license to fly an aircraft using FlightOS," Groden said.

On average, it takes 50 hours of driving experience to get your license. In contrast the FAA only requires 40 hours to become a private pilot.

Much of those classes are required due to the inherent dangers of flying.

A 2019 study by NASA found 20% of commercial aviation faced some issues in the cockpit that required pilots or flight crew intervention.

Najm Meshkati, a USC professor of engineering who specializes in aviation safety, said the bold moves are exciting but it's unlikely that non-trained pilots will be able to fly helicopters any time soon.

"There are a lot of safety-related implications," he said. "We really need to move a little bit more cautiously. I don't say slowly, but cautiously."

Groden said their goal for transportation is "to make general aviation the safest mode of transportation on the planet and democratize the skies for everyone." The system has the capability to safely land any aircraft if engine were to fail. They company is seeking FAA certification for its technology.

To that end, Skyryse recently hired Michael Huerta, the former head of the Federal Aviation Administration, and Chris Hart, former chairman of the National Transportation Safety Board.

Subscribe to our newsletter to catch every headline.


Old Guard on High Alert as Streaming and New Tech Storm Upfronts

Keerthi Vedantam

Keerthi Vedantam is a bioscience reporter at dot.LA. She cut her teeth covering everything from cloud computing to 5G in San Francisco and Seattle. Before she covered tech, Keerthi reported on tribal lands and congressional policy in Washington, D.C. Connect with her on Twitter, Clubhouse (@keerthivedantam) or Signal at 408-470-0776.

Old Guard on High Alert as Streaming and New Tech Storm Upfronts
Netflix and Google Are Poised to Dominate L.A. After the Pandemic

Are the upfronts turning into TV execs’ personal “Black Mirror'' episode?

The annual feeding frenzy—in which C-suite television executives auction off highly-viewed (and costly) advertising time slots— is changing as new streaming behemoths shake up the market. The event often gives viewers and industry watchers insight on what shows are poised to become cultural phenomena, but that too seems to be disrupted at this year’s proceedings.

It’s been two years since major networks and television players convened in New York for a week, and it’s clear that technology is going to change a lot about how the process works.

Read more Show less

Explore Los Angeles Like a Tourist with Atlas Obscura's New Guide

Samson Amore

Samson Amore is a reporter for dot.LA. He previously covered technology and entertainment for TheWrap and reported on the SoCal startup scene for the Los Angeles Business Journal. Samson is also a proud member of the Transgender Journalists Association. Send tips or pitches to and find him on Twitter at @Samsonamore. Pronouns: he/him

Explore Los Angeles Like a Tourist with Atlas Obscura's New Guide
Photo by Venti Views on Unsplash

The Los Angeles Tourism Department partnered with curiosities and travel website Atlas Obscura for a first of its kind digital interactive map of L.A. County’s top attractions, just in time for the summer influx of tourists.

Read more Show less