3 Reasons To Use Drone Consultants For Your Business

Governments, businesses, and other organizations worldwide are benefiting from Unmanned Aerial Vehicle (UAV) technology.

The disruptive nature of drones has taken many industries by storm. Construction, mining, agricultural, utilities, and more are looking to UAV solutions and reaping the rewards.

Many tasks, such as mapping or inspections, within each sector of the economy mentioned above, are labor-intensive, expensive, and sometimes dangerous. UAVs are proving themselves to provide better results than traditional methods, often at a lower cost and in less time. The efficacy of drones as a force multiplier is fueling explosive growth in the UAS industry.

According to the Federal Aviation Administration, as of Aug. 11, 2020, there are over 1.6 million registered drones in the United States. Almost one-third of that number represents drones in commercial operations.

Now is an excellent time to consider how UAV technology can benefit your organization. As with any significant decision, it is always advisable to consult experts in the field. Drones offer many benefits, but to gain the most from the technology, it is best to discuss available options, and even regulations, with drone consultants.

There are three reasons working with drone consultants is beneficial for most entities.

First, drone consultants bring with them a wide range of experience in the field. The best firms have international experience in the industry. Second, consultants can design UAS solutions that fit each organization’s specific needs. Finally, the best firms will help strengthen and grow UAS solutions, as needed.

Let’s break it all down.

Drone Consultants Have Experience

The rapid growth of the UAV industry means the technology is always changing.

Additionally, it means the regulations surrounding the operation of drones is also changing, and they’re different all around the world. While drones have been around for decades as military platforms, it was only in 2010 when Paris-based drone manufacturer Parrot introduced the first consumer drone to the market.

By 2015, over 6.4 million consumer drones were shipped globally. By 2021, that number will have grown to 67.6 million. Growth of this nature is complex and requires experts to understand the rapid change.

Drone consultancy firms are staffed with professionals who have years of experience in both aviation and unmanned vehicles. Many are pilots of crewed aircraft that have a unique understanding of aerial operations.

In-depth knowledge of UAV hardware and software allows drone consultants to recommend ideal solutions for specific needs.

The most reliable firms are international. Organizations such as NGOs, for example, may need to use drones in multiple countries. Experts in international drone consultancy firms understand the rules and regulations related to different regions.

Consultants keep organizations operating legally while maximizing the benefits of drone integration.

They Offer Tailor-Made Solutions

No two businesses or organizations are the same.

UAS consultants start by learning the needs of a business, then act as a guide by investigating how drones can address those needs.

Drones come in all shapes and sizes. Many are quadcopters, but there are plenty of fixed-winged drones as well. UAV payloads can support anything from standard cameras to more advanced systems, such as LiDAR. Understanding the equipment is essential to employing it properly.

Consultants use their experience to recommend the best platform for each desired result. Choosing a platform is only the beginning, though. If an organization is developing an in-house drone program, it will need training on how to operate its drones safely.

Consultants provide a complete solution … not just a packaged drone kit sold to everyone.

Drone Consultants Grow With You

As an established drone program grows, organizations will need support.

Training related to passing the Part 107 remote pilot exam, and actually flying, are only the beginning. There will always be a need for additional training. Whether that training is designed to maintain skills or expand capabilities, experts can provide the appropriate courses.

Consultants can also help with establishing standard operating procedures, developing in-house trainers, a fit-for-purpose UAS operations manual and training, and applying for waivers – such as the daylight waiver that allows you to fly after sunset.

There is no reason to risk litigation or safety incidences due to a lack of understanding of the technology.

Utilizing drone consultants’ strengths to grow an operation safely within local regulations is the best course of action. Expert opinions can recommend training that will keep the benefits coming while mitigating any potential pitfalls. The experience these firms bring with them is worth the investment for most operations.

Bringing It All Together

Utilizing drone consultants’ strengths to grow an operation safely within local regulations is the best course of action.

Expert can recommend training that will keep the benefits coming, while also mitigating any potential pitfalls. The experience these firms bring with them is worth the investment for most operations.

Thinking about using a drone consultant for your business? From operations manual evaluation & support to hardware evaluation, UAS training framework and drone safety audits, we’re here to help!

Complete the form below to schedule a consultation today!

David Daly - Contributing Author

David Daly - Contributing Author

David Daly, is an award-winning photographer/writer and licensed (FAA) Commercial sUAS pilot. A graduate of the United States Naval Academy, David is a former Marine Corps officer with a BS in Oceanography and has earned his MBA from the University of Redlands. David has worked for Fortune 100 companies and has a background in aerospace, construction, military/defense, real estate, and technology.

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FAA Remote ID System Still a Priority for 2020

During the FAA Drone Advisory Committee’s meeting on June 19, FAA Deputy Administrator Dan Elwell said that the agency expects to issue a final rule on its proposed Remote ID system by December 2020.

Remind me... what's the FAA Remote ID again?

Sure. 

Last December, the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) issued a Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (NPRM) that outlined their intent to require that all but the tiniest drones incorporate tracking technology. The proposed system is designed to enable regulators, law enforcement, and other interested parties to track drone movements and in some cases obtain identifying information for any drone operating in the national airspace.

That sounds burdensome.

Consortiq has made the case that the proposed system, in its current state, is far from optimal for many reasons, and numerous industry stakeholders have denounced the system as overly complex, infeasible, and intrusive.

But, proponents argue that not having a comprehensive drone identification and tracking system has been a long-standing barrier to drone innovation. For instance, Wing, Zipline, Amazon, UPS, and a host of other companies, have sought permission to develop drone delivery solutions. But, regulations haven’t allowed it, in part due to law enforcement agency concerns about unidentified drones being used for terrorism, drug smuggling, or other crimes.

As a result, most drone delivery solutions have been limited to proof-of-concept projects in specific areas, such as testing corridors or university campuses. In other words, implementing a way to identify and track any drone at any time could help assuage those concerns and open the door for more advanced UAS solutions.

So, by giving authorities better visibility, UAS operators might get permission to do more?

That’s the idea.

The optimist’s view is that the remote system ID is an important step in creating an Unmanned Aircraft System Traffic Management System (UTM) that is scalable to the national airspace. Critics argue that the system’s rollout is going to be slow, painful, and ultimately not successful, which means it will delay, not catalyze, the development of a UTM.

How will it work?

The proposed regulation divides drones into two categories: standard remote identification and limited remote identification. 

Standard remote identification drones will broadcast Remote ID signals using the radio frequency spectrum and transmit them over an internet connection. These drones will be permitted to fly anywhere a small UAS is allowed to under other applicable regulations, such as Part 107 of the Federal Aviation Regulations. 

Meanwhile, limited remote identification drones will only transmit the required elements over the internet, but cannot broadcast over the air. These drones will be limited to VLOS operations, and the FAA will require the manufacturer to limit such drones to fly within 400 feet of the operator.

In other words, both have to ping information about their aircraft and whereabouts to Identification UAS Service Suppliers, companies chosen by the FAA to gather and manage the tracking information.

Goodbye, privacy...

That is a valid concern.

Note that operators will have the option to randomly-generated alphanumeric code assigned by a Remote ID USS on a per-flight basis, if they want additional privacy. And, remember that drones themselves are widely seen as a threat to privacy.

Unfortunately, drone operators don’t have a lot of bargaining power on this one.

OK, but what about operations where there’s limited connectivity? 

According to page 94 of the NPRM, a standard remote identification UAS that loses connection to the internet, or that can no longer transmit to a Remote ID USS after takeoff, would be able to continue its flight, as long as it continues broadcasting the message elements.

It is true, however, that limited remote identification drones cannot take off without an internet connection.

Unfortunately, drone operators don’t have a lot of bargaining power on this one.

Will this require an expensive upgrade? 

The NPRM (page 89) states that “the FAA reviewed UAS registered to part 107 operators and found 93% of the existing part 107 UAS fleet may have technical capabilities to be retrofit based on information received by industry (i.e., could support software updates through the internet).” 

That’s because most drones have internet and WiFi connectivity, ability to transmit data, receive software uploads, and have radio frequency transceivers, among other technology such as advanced microprocessors.

However, the new system will likely create barriers for recreational operators, STEM programs at universities, and other drone operators that tend to use older or less advanced equipment.

So, when will this get implemented?

The proposal envisions that within three years of the effective date of approval, all UAS operating in the airspace of the United States will be compliant with the remote identification requirements. 

There have been numerous predictions that the FAA’s timeline would be disrupted due to issues caused by the coronavirus pandemic, but if Elwell’s statements prove true, and the FAA does approve the system by the end of 2021, their proposal outlines the following implementation schedule.

  • In 2021, the focus would be on creating a system to connect standard remote identification UAS and limited remote identification UAS to a Remote ID USS.
  • In 2022, manufacturers would begin to produce inventory with remote identification for availability to operators by year 3.
  • In 2023, operators would finally have to start buying the necessary equipment to be compliant with the new system by the end of the year.

In short, even if the schedule is adhered to, nothing is going to change in the short term, and as long as you stay up to date on things as they evolve, you shouldn’t be sidelined by anything major.

Miriam Hinthorn - Contributing Author

Miriam Hinthorn - Contributing Author

Miriam Hinthorn is an experienced management professional who is currently pursuing her master’s in Data, Economics, and Development Policy at MIT while serving as principal consultant at Consult92.

Miriam developed a love for UAS technology when she served as operations manager at Consortiq. Today, having completed over 30 successful projects in 10 countries, she loves solving a wide variety of logistical, technical, and cultural challenges for her clients so that they can focus on what care about most.

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