Q&A with Kairos’ Manager of Flight Operations

Blog Post

In June, Kairos Aerospace began operating four planes simultaneously in four different states, which is double the capacity the company had last year. We spoke with Landon Blair, Kairos’ manager of flight operations, to learn more.

What were the most important steps required to make the leap?
Yes, this milestone is a significant accomplishment for us! One key to our sustained growth has been to fix small problems before they can grow. Even a minor problem with one plane can become a much larger drag on our productivity if that issue grows with each new plane we add. The other key is to craft the right processes to automatically track the detailed information we need to be successful. This pays off in two ways: a well-crafted, automated process consistently gets the little things right, and then our team can work on larger projects rather than spending the majority of their time in the weeds.

You’ve mentioned in the past that accomplishments like these are really team efforts. How many people does it take to ensure flight operations go smoothly? What type of roles do they hold?
To start, our aerial contractor provides us with the necessary foundation for what we can achieve: they provide us with full-time planes, pilots, and instrument operators. Their aviation expertise and dedication to safety is invaluable. Within Kairos, we have a full-time team member responsible for tracking flights from day-to-day, and an engineer on call to provide technical support. We have separate team members dedicated to data analysis and customer engagement. Beyond those on the operational front lines, we rely on all other technical departments for various fixes and improvements to our systems: our hardware, software, and R&D teams each make unique contributions that have enabled us to grow to this level, and will enable us to grow further.

What data were each of the planes gathering?
Our planes in Colorado, New Mexico, and Texas were collecting data for methane detection, our primary data product. The 4th plane in California was collecting thermal infrared imagery at night. We use those thermal images to generate infrared thermal maps that let our customers visualize temperature differences across dozens of square miles.

What are your new goals, now that you’ve reached this significant accomplishment? What does the future hold?
Well, we’ve made it to four full-time planes, so the new goal is to get to five! In all seriousness, we’re looking to build on this accomplishment by increasing our scale, efficiency, and scope of operations. Simply put, we’d like to have more planes in the air, each able to collect more data, and beyond our current bases in Colorado, New Mexico, and Texas.