Data published by the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) in 2018 projected that the industry would jump from more than 110,000 commercial unmanned aircraft systems (UAS) in 2017 to 450,000 in by 2022. Based on its 2018 forecast, regulators expected there would be about 300,000 new pilots needed for the remote aerial vehicles. However, it looks like those estimates were low: FAA stats from September 1, 2020 cited 489,062 Commercial Drones registered and already 191,507 remote pilots certified.
Demand is continuing to grow rapidly for licensed operators in both the commercial and public sectors, including search and rescue, construction, agriculture, photography and 3-D mapping, environmental monitoring, and more.
The State of Drone Delivery
One thing that’s starting to take off in the industry is new opportunities for using drones for delivery. And we’re not just talking medical supplies anymore. We’re talking consumer-focused options, including restaurant orders, groceries, mail, and packages, and even transporting people in things like drone cabs.
There are several benefits for the use of drones for delivery, including:
- Decreased congestion on roads and highways (we’re all for reduced traffic)
- Improved safety (keeping employees out of potentially dangerous situations)
- Fewer greenhouse gas emissions (for the sake of Mother Nature)
- Higher route flexibility (as the crow flies)
- Lower infrastructure maintenance costs (fewer heavy delivery trucks and other large vehicles driving means less stress on the streets)
With each benefit comes a drawback, including:
- Limits on package weight
- Air traffic control regulations
- Limited flight times and battery capacity
- Uncontrollable events such as weather and theft
- Difficulty in defining approved landing and drop-off locations
Recent Milestones in Drone Delivery
- One of the most recent developments in drone delivery is from a startup right here in Chicago. Valqari’s patented universal drone delivery infrastructure will be an exciting solution to one of the industry’s most pressing limitations known as the “the last mile.” With Valqari’s Drone Delivery Station, drones used for delivery now have a safe way to land and keep packages safely in a “digital chain of custody” throughout the entire delivery process.
- A New York county obtained almost $1million from NASA to test passenger and delivery drones. Part of the innovative project is the development of vertiports, which may pave the way for drone taxis. If that’s not a sign that we are in the future right now, we don’t know what is.
- Additionally, the Quantum-Systems GmbH and the Becker & Kollegen laboratory from Germany had a successful test operation during which a drone delivered samples from a mobile Coronavirus test station to a laboratory in 7 minutes.
What this all means: It’s time to learn to fly.
These are just a few stories that show how drone delivery will continue to grow as new technology develops to eliminate several limitations the sector faces when using drones now.
During these uncertain times, you need to be ready to roll with the punches for the changes we’re seeing in what work looks like moving forward, from remote work to unexpected layoffs.
You can future-proof your skillset by learning something that will be in demand in the future. One way to do that is by learning how to be a drone operator, whether you are thinking of starting your own consulting business (here are some simple ways to do that even if you’re a teen) or want to be prepared to fill new jobs as regulations solidify.
So how do you get started with setting up a drone business or career?
- Get your pilot certification: The first thing you must do is (if you’re at least 16) pass the FAA Part 107 Exam. And we can help you do this!
- Register your drone with the FAA: The good news is that registration is simple, starts at $15, and is valid for three years.
- Read up on the requirements for starting a business (in Illinois) to make sure you start your business on the right foot.
- Read the news about drones to see how the industry is progressing (for example, Amazon Drone Delivery got FAA clearance on 8/31…that’s a lot of pilots needed!)
You can be part of this exciting industry by getting trained to be a drone pilot, and the time to start is now. We recently opened up shop again for socially distanced drone pilot training, and we’d love for you to be our next student. Training is for adults and youth ages 15+ (you must be 16 to get a license. Contact us today and learn how to get started!