The times they are a changin’

As one of the master minds of practical insight of my generation, Bob Dylan proclaimed, the times are changing.  The changes that we will discuss here relate to commercial operations of drones.

Until now, on order to fly drones commercially, a company needed to have an extensive amount of training and certification.  See our post here for more information:

There are about 4000 FAA authorized 333 exempt operators  (companies that can fly legally and commercially) in the US.

The FAA has changed these rules substantially, and these changes will take effect at the end of August 2016.    It’s all referred to as “Part 107”.    I’ll spare you the details.  An overview of the new rules can be found here:

The FAA estimates that the number of commercial operators (companies that can fly legally and commercially) that will be processed over the next 2 years or so will approach or exceed 400,000.   (Assuming that the FAA and TSA can keep up that pace)

Now, what does this mean for consumers of commercial Aerial services after this August?  There are good effects and not so good effects.  Here are a couple examples of each.  Anyone who has been in this field for a few years could easily come up with dozens of each of them.

Some of the GOOD effects:

  • There will be many more trained and careful people that can fly aerial for you.
    • This will unleash tremendous creativity with new uses and ideas for aerial services.
    • This will increase competition and reduce cost of services.
  • Over the next 9 years, this will explode into more than 100,000 jobs created and economic impact of $82 billion.  It’s coming.   Pilots, trainers, lawyers, anti-drone systems companies, anti-anti drone system companies, sales, service, repair, insurance, management and on and on.  This is an entirely new industry created more quickly than any others that come to my mind.

Some of the NOT SO good effects:

  • Trained but inexperienced operators WILL put themselves and others at risks.  Here are a couple of examples.
    • With over 2,000 flight operations we are now becoming experienced.  New pilots have a tendency to be over confident (ask me how I know).  The number of folks flying these drones around will compound this overall risk.
    • Many new pilots will take unnecessary risks when there is payment involved.   Bad judgement increases the closer you get to money.  The pressure, from an economic and reputation perspective to get the shot WILL cause dangerous situations for some, but certainly not all flyers.
  • Enforcement.  The FAA and local law enforcement have been having an incredibly difficult time keeping up with people who ignore  laws and endanger people.  Increasing the number of legal commercial operators will present them with a substantial challenge.


SO, what does this mean for you as a consumer at the end of August?   Consider applying the same precautions you might use to hire a new dentist or any contractor.

  • Balance hiring decisions with cost and experience.  Err on the side of experience for a while.
  • Make sure that the person you hire (333 OR 107) has all of the correct credentials and documents.  Ask them to produce it.
  • Make sure that the people you hire carry liability insurance.
  • Get some referrals


The times are changing substantially for the better.  We just need to be sure to get there safely.


Louise & Mike

Team Photo




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