RPAS Business Opportunities

IMG_4062Australia is open for business and is doing progressively better every day when it comes to making money out of Remotely Piloted Aircraft (Drones).

State Government departments and big and small businesses are venturing forth and seeking out licensed operators with UAV Operators Certificates (UOC), licensed controllers and liability insurance, requesting a wide range of missions as they navigate their way towards saving money and achieving a better outcome for their pain, itch of fancy.

UOC holders up until recently have been doing it tough but as the word spreads that money can be saved and profits enhances by using sensor equipped UAVs the aerial robotics industry is now coming out of the doldrums.

CASA is still experiencing a major backlog of applicants eager to get their approvals and start making money. The playing field is littered with operators that have over committed and under performed so like in most new industries there are business failures.

UOC operators that set up professionally with workshops, qualified and experienced staff, have professional websites and sales material, have effective Public Relations and marketing campaigns tend to succeed. Having a range of UAVs both fixed wing and multirotor all equipped with sensors suitable for tasks requested are securing clients willing to enter into long term relationships… hence cashflow!

UAV Training Centers that offer a turn key all in one place training and licensing solution are also benefiting from the steady growth of the industry. Training schools that not only teach you theory, radio and practical flight skills but also business ideas and sales and operational strategy are recommended for those aspirants that have not been in the industry for very long.

A big part of the success of the industry stalwarts is their ability to educate the new client on how they, within their industry can use UAVs to make or save money. Left to their own resources clients have really no idea on what sensors do and how it all works. Be willing to educate, give and befriend. It really is a case of clients not knowing what they don’t know! Be patient and persist. It all takes time and they need to go through a process within their companies of deciding what to do and when. Once they are onboard and using UAVs you have them for live, or until you become progressively too expensive or fail to continue to innovate.

The types of services UAV operators are undertaking that pays the bills is typically analyzing crops, military applications, cinematography, real estate video and still shot imagery, feral animal assessment in forests and mountainous regions, fire management, security applications, filming sporting events, documentaries, TV news and search and rescue applications are starting up now.

A question most operators get asked is “can we operate in urban areas”? The answer is yes but with strict CASA imposed guidelines. Some urban area missions require a CASA issued Area Approval. Check the CASA website for details.

The most common UAVs used in major commercial operations is the hexacopter and or octocopter. The reason is on many occasions the sensor and gimbal is worth more than the flying platform so we need to protect them. Operators are also very mindful of the risks potentially to people and assets so by using the larger devices you have the ability to maintain stability and get on the ground if a fault develops with a controller, motor or propeller. CASA prefers this solution also.

The DJI Inspire 1, a quadrotor, is tending to be a convenient backup device for many UOC operators. Its compact, relative cheap, the camera is suitable for some operations and the camera and operational characteristics easy to use.

Like any new business you need to invest up front capital and develop and manage a team of professionals to support you. Most of us have never been exposed to the technologies involved but if your keen to do research and ask questions you can succeed. A wad of cash, hard work, determination, flexibility, patience, good communication skills and a well-funded public relations campaign are essential for you to succeed.

There is lots of room for many to get involved, as it’s a big country. Helicopters and fixed wing aircraft that have typically been used by many industries in the past have had their day as they are to expensive due to CASA and self imposed operational constraints. UAVs are taking their place.

CASA is now taking up to 5 months to process UOC applications, which is a major concern but if you are patient and get involved this is an exciting and profitable industry. Fly safe.

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