As we predicted, once the FAA granted the first exemption to operate UAS commercially, something they did on September 25, 2014, the pace of filings dramatically increased. There are now almost 60 Section 333 petitions pending with the FAA. We believe the pace of filings will continue and that, as the FAA continues to act on them, it will further increase.
Measured against this increase in requests for operating authority from the FAA, is what seems to be an almost geometric growth in UAS startup companies. Excited by the technology, as well as the money to be made, not a day passes without some new UAS or drone company announcing its wide range of services, whether in precision agriculture, pipeline or powerline inspection or any number of areas. More often than not, the real extent of these companies’ activities in the UAS field, is nothing more than the announcement that they are now in the UAS field.
To be sure, there are companies which have declared they’re in the UAS business or want to be in it and actually have funding and can benefit from the use of UAS. Too many of them however, are not filing for exemptions and continue to sit back and wait. Now is the time to stop talking and start doing.
We guess it comes down to putting your money where your mouth is. Logic would seem to dictate that if you want to be in the UAS business, whether as a manufacturer, an operator, or a user, you take all the necessary steps, starting with getting an exemption. The idea, as has been expressed to us by a few such companies on the sidelines, that they will wait until the FAA issues the NPRM on small UAS (still expected by the end of the year), is ridiculous. As the rulemaking drags on, and other companies keep filing exemption petitions, all that’s going to happen is the line is going to get longer.
So, fish or cut bait! Stop talking about it and start doing something! If you’re really serious about wanting to be in the UAS business, put your money where your mouth is, stop talking about all the services you’re going to provide and file a petition for an exemption so you can start really being in the UAS business.
(Originally posted October 6, 2014)