close up of merry go round tiger

[Inspired by Patrick Egan’s editorial We’re Back In Business. Reading the entire post is highly recommended.]

Most of the folks that get over the FAA regulatory hurdle will soon be getting an education in business economics, supply and demand, as well as free market competition.

The announcement and implementation of C.F.R 14 Part 107 that will come August once again make the drone business a legal enterprise. While many agree that it is long overdue, it appears less onerous (the devil may still be in the details), than many had feared and is something that we can work with.

My hats off to the folks at the FAA for promulgating something that is favorable to business and fosters interest in careers in aviation. These are not new sentiments as these comments are in line with those made about the NPRM. The licensing was a given as far as I was concerned. The regulator has to have something it can use for enforcement, and the pilot certificate is a tried and tested methodology for encouraging folks to conform to the FARs.

As an industry, we have spent years making a living in the gray economy with little regulatory guidance, certification, insurance or other trappings of business. While some may not, many in this industry consider themselves to be experts after flying consumer drones around for several months or years. I’m sorry to be the one to break it to you sunshine, but you are in the big leagues now.

Besides a certification and other measures of compliance, tort law and insurance claims will most certainly shape this industry moving forward.Most of the folks that get over the FAA regulatory hurdle will soon be getting an education in business economics, supply and demand, as well as free market competition.

Checking out of the neighborhood Best Buy with drone under arm hardly makes one an expert in business let alone map making, SAR (Search And Rescue), agriculture, security, or construction just to name a few. While there is obvious value in drones as a service ( I know, some dillweed trademarked it), we need to realize that some of these fields require training and others certification.

Users and would be users of this technology from August on bear the responsibility to act in the best interest of the community as well as those still to join our ranks in the future of aviation.

I wish all of the new entrepreneurs the best of luck on your future endeavors.

One of these days I’m going to get a chance to meet Patrick and buy him the beverage of his choice. The man is the conscience of this industry. He has been at this for a long time and has seen an awful lot of silliness pass for gospel.
The drone business is following the now time-worn path we started on with the introduction of the LaserWriter and PostScript fonts in 1985. First came ransom note designs, then a million and one people hung out shingles that read designer or graphic artist. Then the people who mastered their craft and built their businesses by reinvesting in people, hardware and service, mostly went out of business because they couldn’t adapt fast enough. It’s happened again and again in music, video, 3D design… and also in manufacturing, professional services, hotels, transportation and many other industries.
Is it all bad? No. It is the inescapable social and institutional impact of Moore’s Law on our global village. A village in which many people share an increasingly common frame of reference.
I’ve been in it for my entire career and the game is always the same. The manufacturer seeks to convince people that there is a nearly infinite demand for their revolutionary products and applications. They fill the press with case studies proving that customers are clamoring for the increases in quality and soaring profitability that can be achieved whilst enjoying tremendous cost savings.
Then as Patrick describes so eloquently, emboldened by dreams of untold riches – and ignoring the part about tremendous cost savings – lots of people bet their futures and buy into the dream. Some actually leave good paying jobs to strike out for the
oil patch.

The same thing is happening now, only the FAA has unwittingly joined the manufacturers.

People think that it’s about being able to fly the drone without a manned license. A few will get the message that the drone is simply a means to carry a sensor. Fewer still have the background and insight to understand what the sensor does that is actually valuable to a prospect.
Which is why only one out of every two will be able to stay in business for five years.
During which time the original technology that they invested in will perhaps be worth a penny on the dollar, ushering in a new generation of competitors with even less invested. In this brave new paradigm, CapEx is no longer a barrier to entry.  In fact, the only effective barrier to entry is the sophistication of the buyer, who having been burnt, now understands what he needs and how and where to buy it.
Meanwhile, the manufacturers soon fall prey to their own success which is why a period of consolidation is coming sooner than later. And why differentiating to get a smaller piece of the bigger pie is often the best strategy.
But there is something else happening here. It is the part that Patrick wrote about people needing to understand that they are joining a community with its own traditions and standards of excellence. To which I would add that the techies and the aviators need to find common ground. That we can all learn from each other. And that yes Rodney, we all can and need to get along.

read the rest of Patrick’s post at

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