The UAS Business Climate

The UAS industry is not at a standstill. The regulatory cloud lingering above the industry may cause many to grumble and have pause, but the potential we all envision for the industry does truly exist.
By Luke Geiver | January 12, 2015

The UAS industry is not at a standstill. The regulatory cloud lingering above payload providers, precision ag services and cinematographers may cause unmanned aircraft-linked entities and interested parties to grumble, but the potential we all envision after the U.S. Federal Aviation Administration regulations are issued already exists. Just see what’s happening in Neodesha, Kansas, in “The Birthplace of Precision-Ag UAVs.”  In that small farming community, a team of UAV designers and manufacturers has established a business case model that highlights the economic possibilities for linking UAV and precision agriculture.

For the story, we followed the work of AgEagle LLC for three months, communicating with and interviewing their team three times. Each time we talked, the merits of their operation became clearer, and as we think you will find, the AgEagle team is experiencing today what many believe could be possible for UAV manufacturers in the future.

Sinclair Community College, an Ohio school with a long aviation history, is also dabbling in the future. The school has formed a unique UAV operator and data analysis program that is equipped with the country’s first indoor UAV test flight range. After converting a former newspaper printing facility into a test range, Sinclair can now offer its globally sourced student body a chance to perform first-time flights with expensive payload-equipped UAVs in a controlled space. It is hard not to be blinded by the cool factor surrounding Sinclair’s program offerings. To build the program, the school’s UAS leadership sought partnerships with firms large and small, from in and outside the state. One of those partnerships has helped a UAV manufacturer and distributor focus on its platform and set aside training new pilots because the Sinclair team has agreed to train students on the partner’s UAV platform in exchange for access and use of several high-dollar UAVs.

Lockheed Martin, a global technology provider, has also found a way to partner for the betterment of its sUAV ambitions. Working with Detroit Aircraft Corp., an unmanned aerial vehicle manufacturer and distributor, Lockheed and the Detroit firm are providing UAVs to first responders and firefighting entities throughout the city. For the story, “UAVs Made In Detroit,” we held a cover shoot in a Detroit airplane hangar. It seemed fitting, given the history of the company’s founder CEO Jon Rimanelli, who had the funding, foresight and commitment to build a UAV manufacturing and distribution company––and we wanted to capture the essence of his story in photos. 

Our story, “Enhancing The View,” illustrates the state of the UAS industry. While the UAS world was abuzz following the FAA’s historic exemptions for six cinematographers, we were on the phone, talking with some of those firms to hear their perspective on the certificate of authorization process and what exemptions will mean for their UAV ambitions.

As this young industry awaits the final FAA rules, remember, that feeling of positive anxiousness you might have for your UAS business need not give way to the partial reality that the regulatory climate in the U.S. is unfavorable. The industry is not at a standstill––it is, instead, constantly emerging and on the brink. For some, it is more than that.

Luke Geiver
Editor, UAS Magazine