In honor of International Women's Day 2024, we delve into the remarkable journeys, challenges, and achievements of seven pioneering women in the drone industry, as featured in DroneTalks previous interviews. These conversations not only highlight the diversity of roles women play in this rapidly evolving sector but also underscore their invaluable contributions to pushing the boundaries of technology, policy, and innovation.

Dufour Aerospace: Advancing aerial mobility

In an insightful conversation with Eszter Kovács, CEO and Co-Founder of DroneTalks, Jasmine Kent, the CTO and Co-founder of Dufour Aerospace, shared her journey into the drone industry from an aviation background. 

Founded approximately six years ago, Dufour Aerospace has quickly established itself as a significant player in the drone industry, specializing in creating advanced aircraft for critical cargo transport. Their flagship product, a VTOL (Vertical Take-Off and Landing) aircraft, boasts the capacity to carry 40 kilos over 400 kilometers, a testament to the company's commitment to pushing the boundaries of what's possible.

Strategically headquartered in Switzerland, with main operations in the city of Dübendorf and its headquarters in Valais, Dufour leverages the Swiss ecosystem's strengths, including access to top engineering talent, proximity to key infrastructures like the international airport, and an attractive environment for both local and international professionals. This strategic positioning has been instrumental in attracting a pool of exceptional engineering talent crucial for Dufour's ambitious projects.

2023 marked a significant year for Dufour Aerospace, with notable partnerships and contracts signaling the industry's recognition of its high-quality, reliable products. Among these achievements is a contract with European medical drone services, highlighting the practical and impactful applications of their technology in critical sectors.

Jasmine discusses Dufour's mission to develop advanced aerial mobility solutions, emphasizing the importance of safety, efficiency, and sustainability. Her leadership in navigating the complexities of certifying larger aircraft and keeping them safe highlights the significant role of women in pushing technological boundaries and setting new standards in aviation innovation.

Watch the full interview here!

Women leading the drone industry at AVSS

In the dynamic world of drone technology, AVSS is making significant strides, not just in innovation but also in fostering diversity within the industry. At the heart of this progress are Irina Statch, Senior Project Coordinator and Supply Chain Manager, and Mariah Murray, Vice President of Operations at AVSS. Their stories, shared during a conversation at the Commercial UAV Show in Las Vegas, provide an insightful glimpse into the challenges and triumphs of women in the drone industry.

Both Irina and Mariah shared their experiences navigating a predominantly male industry, from overcoming stereotypes at trade shows to ensuring their voices are heard in decision-making processes.

AVSS's commitment to diversity goes beyond just gender. By embracing different perspectives, the company aims to create a more inclusive and innovative environment. This approach not only enriches the company culture but also drives better decision-making and product development.

Watch the full interview here!

Genius NY: leading the charge in uncrewed aerial systems innovation

In the bustling realm of technology, Genius NY emerges as one of the world's largest business accelerator specifically tailored for uncrewed aerial systems (UAS) and robotics. Under the direction of Kara Jones, the program propels forward the aspirations of innovative startups, embedding them into the heart of New York's burgeoning tech ecosystem.

Funded by New York State's economic development team and operating in tandem with New Air, which manages one of the FAA's seven UAS test sites, Genius NY is more than an accelerator; it's a cornerstone of the state's vision to be a global leader in UAS technology. The program, which took off in 2017, aims not just to foster innovation but to attract and retain talent within the region, thus contributing to the economic vibrancy of Upstate New York.

Over six years, Genius NY has witnessed a significant shift in the types of startups applying. There's been a pivot from early-stage prototypes to more advanced seed and series A companies. International interest has spiked, reflecting a global recognition of New York as a pivotal hub for drone technology. 

Amidst technological advancements, Genius NY places a strong emphasis on diversity within the startup ecosystem. Efforts to engage more female leaders, BIPOC founders, and creating an inclusive environment reflect the accelerator's commitment to not just innovation, but equitable representation in tech. This stance is critical, as diversity fosters a plethora of perspectives, driving more holistic and impactful solutions in the UAS space.

Watch the full interview here!

Eve Air Mobility: pioneering urban air mobility

Eve Air Mobility, a trailblazer in the urban air mobility (UAM) sector, emerges from Embraer's visionary spin-off initiative. With Juliana Kiraly at the helm of Business Development in Europe, they are poised to revolutionize how we perceive and engage with urban transportation.

Embraer's rich heritage in manufacturing and certifying aircraft across commercial, executive, and defense aviation sectors provides a sturdy foundation for Eve Air Mobility. This new venture aims to redefine urban mobility with its electric vertical takeoff and landing (eVTOL) aircraft designed for four passengers and a pilot, promising an eco-friendly and efficient alternative to conventional city transportation.

Eve Air Mobility's vision extends beyond mere transportation. The company explores a variety of use cases for its eVTOL, from replacing helicopters in tourist routes to providing swift airport shuttles that bypass congested city traffic. Further applications include air taxis connecting city points, regional connections in challenging geographies like Norway, and even cargo or medical logistics solutions. These use cases not only highlight the versatility of eVTOL technology but also underscore its potential to significantly impact various aspects of daily life and regional connectivity.

While initially designed with a pilot, Eve Air Mobility recognizes the importance of autonomy in enhancing operational scalability and reducing costs. Transitioning to fully autonomous flights could not only lower operational expenses but also add more seats to the aircraft, thereby making the service more affordable and accessible to a wider audience. Autonomy holds the key to unlocking the full potential of eVTOL technology, making aerial mobility a commonplace aspect of urban life.

As 2026 draws near, the anticipation for Eve Air Mobility's eVTOL services reflects a growing consensus that the future of urban mobility will indeed take to the skies.

Watch the full interview here!

Bridging the divide: civil-military cooperation in drone certification

We had the chance to sit down again with Maria Algar Ruiz, Drones Programme Manager at EASA during Amsterdam Drone Week 2023. 

The drone industry stands at a crossroads where collaboration between civil and military sectors can lead to significant advancements. The goal is to create a framework where drones can be certified for both civilian and military purposes without redundant efforts. This initiative was highlighted in the European Drone Strategy 2.0, emphasizing the need for Europe to develop dual-use platforms that cater to both sectors efficiently.

One of the main challenges lies in the diverse nature of civil and military missions, which can lead to differing certification requirements. The military world operates with specific standards like NATO STANAGs, whereas the civil world has harmonized certification processes under authorities like EASA. Bridging these methodologies could allow for a more streamlined and efficient certification process, beneficial to all stakeholders involved.

The opportunities presented by closer civil-military cooperation are vast. For the industry, it opens doors to innovation and the creation of platforms versatile enough for a range of missions. For regulatory bodies and stakeholders, it offers a chance to share knowledge, align standards, and ultimately, facilitate the integration of unmanned aircraft systems (UAS) into non-segregated airspace.

The push for harmonized certification standards signifies a new era of collaboration. EASA, along with military aviation authorities and organizations like the European Defense Agency, is exploring ways to make civil certifications acceptable for military use, and vice versa. This approach not only simplifies the certification process but also encourages innovation by sharing best practices and leveraging technological advancements across sectors.

Watch the full interview here!

Sustainable drone delivery solutions

Okeoma Moronu, leading the Regulatory and Policy Department at Zipline, brings a wealth of experience from aviation finance to drones, underscoring the innovative and expansive journey of Zipline in transforming delivery services globally. With a rich background in law and a passion for humanitarian work, Okeoma's transition to Zipline signifies a merger of her expertise and aspirations, enabling her to contribute significantly to Zipline's mission of making impactful deliveries through drone technology.

Zipline has witnessed remarkable growth, expanding operations across several countries including Ghana, Japan, Nigeria, and soon, Kenya and Côte d'Ivoire, along with additional states in the U.S. With over 380,000 commercial flights to date, Zipline's operations underscore a rapid scale-up, moving beyond medical deliveries to address broader logistical challenges worldwide.

The secret to Zipline's successful expansion into countries with varying regulatory landscapes lies in forging strong local partnerships. By aligning with ministries of health, government bodies, and corporate partners like Toyota in Japan, Zipline leverages these relationships to navigate and influence regulatory frameworks, facilitating the deployment of its drone delivery services.

Zipline is committed to advancing sustainability by reducing dependency on traditional fuel-powered delivery methods. By transitioning delivery services from the roads to the skies, Zipline not only aims to alleviate traffic congestion but also to promote cleaner, more sustainable communities. This vision aligns with a growing consumer willingness to support services that offer convenience while addressing environmental concerns.

Watch the full interview here!

The stories of Jasmine Kent, Irina Statch, Mariah Murray, Kara Jones, Juliana Kiraly, Maria Algar Ruiz and Okeoma Moronu, as facilitated by Eszter Kovács, reflect the diverse ways women are leading and innovating in the drone industry. Their achievements underscore the importance of female representation in STEM and highlight the transformative potential of drones in addressing global challenges.

This International Women's Day, these interviews not only celebrate the contributions of women to the drone industry but also inspire future generations to break barriers and pursue careers in technology and innovation. The dedication, expertise, and visionary leadership of these women demonstrate the critical role they play in driving the drone industry forward, making a lasting impact on both the sector and society at large.

Exclusive Women's Day offer from DroneTalks Academy

This International Women's Day, step into the forefront of the drone industry with DroneTalks Academy's 5-day Regulatory and SORA 2.5 training at the Barcelona Drone Center. Designed for professionals who aspire to lead in the rapidly evolving field of drone technology, this training session is a deep dive into the latest regulations, including the pivotal U-space mandates in Europe and a comparative analysis with the American drone regulatory landscape.

In a dedicated effort to support and empower women within the drone industry, DroneTalks Academy and BCN Drone Center are thrilled to announce an exclusive offer: a 50% discount until 14th of March for female professionals looking to join our upcoming training session. 

To avail of this special offer, use the discount code WOMENSDAY50 when registering for our training program.

Join industry luminaries like Lorenzo Murzilli, Yves Morier, Juanjo Sola, and Lluís Ama in Barcelona for an immersive learning experience. Our experts will guide you through the intricacies of drone regulations, offering practical knowledge and insights that will empower you to navigate the challenges and opportunities of the drone industry confidently.

We look forward to welcoming you to Barcelona!