DroneUp, LLC, announced the appointment of Andy Thurling, an accomplished commercial drone policy and safety expert and the company’s first Vice President of Airspace Innovation. In this role, Thurling will lead the development and execution of DroneUp’s airspace and Unmanned Aircraft System Traffic Management (UTM) strategies. He will also help create standards and policies that support the company’s path to commercial beyond visual line-of-sight (BVLOS) operations.
Thurling previously was Chief Technology Officer (CTO) at NUAIR, a New York-based nonprofit organization focused on the safe integration of uncrewed aircraft systems (UAS) into the national airspace. At NUAIR, he led technical research on UAS technologies, evaluated potential paths to implementation, set industry standards for approval by regulators, and tested techniques to verify compliance in one of the largest drone operating corridors—from Rome, NY to Syracuse. Prior to NUAIR, Thurling was Director of Product Safety and Mission Assurance at AeroVironment, where he led airworthiness, certification, and airspace access strategic efforts.
Thurling was drawn to DroneUp’s focus on building a sustainable and scalable business within the FAA’s Small Unmanned Aircraft Systems Regulations (Part 107). While much of the industry has been focused primarily on delivery, DroneUp has a unique services model which, in addition to delivery, run from its Hubs and serve as community resources for other businesses that benefit from drones and even first responders. These enhanced operations under Part 107 build trust, familiarity, and appreciation for drones within communities, on which Thurling and DroneUp will continue to build a strong case to policymakers for broader BVLOS operations benefiting all industry participants.
“I’ve been watching DroneUp’s climb in the industry, and I’m extremely impressed with the company’s business approach, leadership, and vision,” Thurling said. “As someone who has been involved in airspace standards and innovation for many years, I’m honored to join this team, who is working so diligently to move the industry forward, and I’m happy to contribute to DroneUp’s broader commercial drone operations.”
Thurling is a Distinguished Graduate of the USAF Test Pilot School. He held several positions as a test pilot and an instructor at the Test Pilot School. His career in the Air Force culminated as Commander of the 452nd Flight Test Squadron, where he was responsible for leading the team testing the nation’s newest uncrewed aircraft. Thurling has over 2300 hours of flight time in more than 35 aircraft types and was awarded the 2011 AUVSI “Operations Award” for leading the flight testing of the liquid Hydrogen-powered Global Observer High Altitude UAS.
“Andy has been on the cutting edge of drone innovation and is the perfect person to help us stay on top of critical technologies and policies that impact our business,” said DroneUp CTO John Vernon. “His vision for quickly moving from theory to practice is especially aligned with our company’s culture. As DroneUp continues its path of rapid growth—both in internal headcount and customer adoption—we’re honored to have a leader with such keen knowledge of safety, security, and privacy needed to keep DroneUp’s operations leading the market and defining what this powerful new technology can do to transform commerce, public safety, and scores of other industries as well.”
Thurling is active in UAS standards bodies such as ASTM International, RTCA Inc., and internationally with the European Organisation of Civil Aviation Equipment (EUROCAE). He is a subject matter expert to the Joint Authorities for Rulemaking on Unmanned Systems (JARUS) which is the working group developing the Specific Operational Risk Assessment process and with the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) on the Trust Framework Study Group.