3 Professional Drone Services You Can Offer As A Start Up Commercial Drone Operator!
Yes, this title is a bit on the dramatic, but according to an article in Time magazine, we are now in the drone era and drones have evolved from “sub-culture” to mainstream.
It’s hard to believe it was only a mere 13 years ago that smart phones were introduced. I was eager and quick to adopt all of the early “smart” gadgets, PDA’s and other clunky devices, but when the iPhone and Android came onto the scene, the world as we knew it had changed forever.
Industrial and Commercial Drone Application
The same is already being said about drones. With innovations in healthcare, to securing our skies, drones are being implemented into every industry imaginable. When I bought my first drone, it was because I thought it would be fun to be able to see the every day world from a birds eye view. I quickly realized the potential for commercial use, and immediately began formulating a business plan. After four years participating in and following the drone industry, my business has evolved from providing basic real estate photo and video services, to consulting in the traditional and renewable energy sectors. I am also collaborating with international organizations to help them with integrating drone usage to improve efficiencies, productivity and ultimately profitability. I also train and mentor new pilots in practical application while assisting them with their course study to acquire the FAA, Part 107 sUAV certification.
Nowadays, drones are being used to provide very specialized aerial services such as LiDAR (Light Detection and Ranging) used to create 3D terrain maps for planning, zoning, construction and many other purposes. GPR (ground penetrating radar) to be used in searching for underground anomalies. Thermal (infrared), used to locate heat anomalies especially when inspecting solar farms, power line networks along with emergency response and many other functions. New sensors are being introduced practically every day that provide specialized data for every imaginable purpose.
Expanding Your Commercial Drone Services Offerings
As I mentioned at the top of this article, there are services you can offer that will separate you from other individually owned or small drone companies. It didn’t take me long to begin looking for ways to expand my drone services beyond real estate video and photography. Depending on the drone gear you already own, it can be an easy and natural progression to begin offering roof inspection, cellular tower inspection and other types of “visual” inspection services. One thing to note, clients may expect that you would offer additional sensor data such as thermal (infrared) imagery. There are devices you can add to your existing drone and I will provide more detail on those later in this article. However, if you are like I was and have a limited budget, you can offer strategic “visual” only inspections at a budget rate for the client.
A real world example of this is when I was asked by a Property Management company to provide visual imagery of the roofing of their apartment complexes. This is extremely important to a property owner or manager, not only to inspect the condition of the roof, looking for potential issues needing maintenance or repair, but often the banks that finance these properties require these periodic inspections as part of the terms and conditions of the finance agreements. Since this was a new concept to me, I consulted with the client and the bank representative and it was determined that slow moving video over the center-line of the roof was all that was needed. Additionally, by shooting the video in 4K gives the analytics team the ability to zoom in as needed to view areas of concern in extreme detail. This proved to be a nice and lucrative service offering because of it’s straight forward approach as well as the simple processing and reporting of the data back to the client. It is important to note that, while flying the job is truly the most enjoyable, the most important part of your product is the deliverable. The photo and/or video imagery coupled with good documentation. That is where you earn the clients trust and ultimately drive revenue and income.
Moving Forward to the Future
With any technology, there are pivotal moments when an innovation goes from being something perpetually in the near future to being a part of everyday life. For several years now, drones have been at the outer edges of curiosity and interest, as well as full on disdain and threat. Historically only being used by the militaries and relatively small numbers of hobbyists we are now seeing drones becoming part of the larger culture. Now commercial industry has not only began accepting the technology, but realizing the cost and other benefits to implementing drones into day-to-day operations. The global market for drones is rapidly expanding as the wide-ranging applications of this technology are being uncovered and put into practice.
For more information on this topic, Time Magazine has a fantastic section available online at http://time.com/collection/drones
How I Studied For My FAA Part 107 Pilot Certification
If you are serious about making money with your drone, whether it be Real Estate, Aerial Inspections, etc., then you will need, from the FAA a 14 CFR Part 107 certification.
The best source for your training can be found by clicking on RemotePilot101. Jason Schappert is a pilot and author of 8 best selling aviation flight training books. While studying and taking tests is not the most fun, Jason breaks it down into 10 easy to follow (at your own pace) video lessons. These lessons are straight and to the point giving you the exact knowledge, nothing less, nothing more than what you need to pass the exam. Additionally, he is continually updating the training to keep it relevant to any changes to FAA regulations. This membership is a 1-time subscription – for life! So when you’re 24 month renewal comes around, just sign in to RemotePilot101 and refresh your training.
Just remember, if you are flying commercially, you will need your Part 107 certification. It’s not hard, you can do it!