Software issues forced Great Lakes Drone Company to call off the 80-drone light show planned for the AOPA Fly-In at Livermore, California.
Cancellation of the June 21 night show was a frustrating and disappointing decision made necessary by safety considerations. AOPA Senior Director of UAS Programs Kat Swain said the issue stems from a problem with the software used to coordinate and choreograph the aerial display by 80 brightly lit drones, a custom show designed to celebrate AOPA’s eightieth anniversary.
Great Lakes Drone Company CEO Matt Quinn said the company’s entire fleet is grounded by the glitch.
“Last week we identified a back end communications logic failure with our software and communications equipment,” Quinn said. “Until our software vendor can thoroughly identify and correct this issue through performance-based testing, we will keep our fleet grounded. As hard as this decision is for any company to make, we feel it is the right one and in line with the aviation industry standards of safety.”
Quinn’s Michigan-based firm was among the first to earn FAA approval for large-scale drone light shows, and performed at EAA AirVenture in Oshkosh, Wisconsin, in 2018. AOPA hired the firm to produce custom shows at each of AOPA’s 2019 Fly-Ins, but thunderstorms kept the fleet of miniature aircraft on the ground in Frederick, Maryland, in May, and the technical issue will prevent the display from taking flight at Livermore.
The rest of the Livermore activities, including the short takeoff and landing challenge featuring Mike Patey’s custom hot-rod Draco; the Flightline Cookout on June 21; and two full days of seminars, workshops, exhibits, and other activities are still very much a “go."
AOPA and Great Lakes Drone Company staff are working to resolve the issues, and further announcements will be forthcoming.