The drone industry has come a long way in the last few years.
We’ve seen more advanced drone models coming out every few months. We’ve seen companies sprouting up across the globe, from new manufacturers, to software, to investment firms.
And we’ve seen an influx of entrepreneurial drone pilots breaking free from their previous employment to make money full time from their drone.
I believe that 2017 is going to be the best year (ever) for a pilot to start a drone services business. The combination of opportunity, knowledge available, and where the market stands is too ripe.
In this article, I’m going to reveal six reasons why this will be the case.
Let’s break them down:
1. It’s Legal and Regulated
As you probably know, the FAA released their rules and regulations governing sUAS under Part 107.
Prior to this, a pilot had to obtain a 333 exemption in order to legally fly as a professional pilot. But this exemption required no flight proficiency or knowledge exam. Essentially, almost anyone could obtain a 333 exemption, so the weight it held was minimal.
Under Part 107, pilots need to successfully obtain a remote pilot airman certificate by taking an in-depth aeronautical knowledge test. This certificate signifies extensive knowledge of UAS and aeronautical concepts, rules, and regulations.
Also, pilots now have strict rules and guidelines that they must adhere to in order to fly within the legal limits.
What this means is that potential clients who were skeptical of hiring a drone pilot because of the potential legal issues can now feel secure in knowing that the market is regulated.
This will greatly increase demand for drone services from a wide range of industries.
2. Price to Features Ratios of Drone Models Are Higher Than Ever
You can get more bang for your buck these days than ever before:
- Do you want a 4K camera drone for under $500? Here you go.
- Do you want a drone with autonomous flight modes for under $1,000? Here you go.
- Do you want FPV capabilities and a powerful camera for under $1,200? Here you go.
The equipment you own is continually becoming a much lower barrier to entry to becoming a commercial pilot. You can get a serviceable professional drone for under $800, whereas you used to have to shell out double that amount.
And that doesn’t even include accessories and other add-ons.
As new models keep coming out, the price level of old models drops significantly, but their features stay the same.
If price has been an issue for you, either look for an older model that’s price has dropped, or simply wait a few months into next year for the prices to drop further.
3. Competition Hasn’t Peaked (Yet)
Competition in the drone services market is on the rise, but it hasn’t peaked yet.
Part 107 came out at the end of August, about three months ago at the time of this writing.
It takes time to study, make an appointment, and actually pass the knowledge test, so there will be a delay before the current professional pilots get their certificate. It’s also a barrier to entry for aspiring pro pilots.
This means that competition in the space is rising, but hasn’t come close to its peak yet. It’s the perfect time to get into the space and establish a loyal client base.
4. There is Enough Information Out There to Get You Started
The learning curve to enter the industry as a professional pilot is much lower than it used to be.
There is a ton of free information out there in the form of blog articles and forums. And there is a ton of paid information out there in the form of books and courses.
You can learn both drone-specific information (pilot skills, training drones, post processing, which clients to target, which equipment to use) and business info (accounting, client retention, taxes) all with some simple Google searches.
With the vast amount of information available, anyone can research how to become a drone pilot and run their own business.
5. There is Software to Help You Stay Organized
There is now software made specifically for professional drone pilots. This software helps them stay organized and compliant with regulations.
Here are some of the best:
Skyward — An excellent cloud-based platform for running your business.
Flyte — A comprehensive flight planning app.
DroneDeploy — An app for capturing and using aerial data.
6. There Are Services to Help You Find Work
Finally, even if you struggle to drum up new clients on your own, there are multiple services that will help you find work.
They connect commercial drone pilots to those seeking aerial services. Here are a few:
Over to You
If you’ve been on the fence about starting your drone services business, hopefully this article has inspired you to start it sooner rather than later.
What’s stopping you from getting your business going? Let me know in the comments below.
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