Today is a big day for the unmanned aerial system (UAS) industry in the United States.
The FAA released the complete set of operational rules for routine commercial use of small Unmanned Aircraft Systems (sUAS)
We are now in a 60 day review and comment period. That means these rules should take effect on August 20, 2016.
The Part 107 update PDF from the FAA is available by clicking on that link.
What does this mean for you and everyone else who wants to benefit from the use of small UAVs for commercial purposes? I see 3 major impacts:
Lower barrier to entry
You think there is a swarm of activity around commercial drones and creating a UAV business? You haven’t seen anything yet! If your goal is merely to have fun and personal enjoyment with an aerial drone, the new Part 107 guidelines are a benefit to you too. But if you recognize this as the major new market category in aerospace and aviation like I do, this lower barrier to entry means #2:
Imagine an alternate history during the early days of personal computers. Everyone who wanted to build, program, and sell a computer needed to first get a license from a government agency like the Federal Communications Commission (FCC). Then it took about 10 years for the FCC to figure out the best process for these new “personal computers.” In the meantime, tens of thousands of computer geeks were anxiously waiting for the day when they could do what they were perfectly capable of learning and doing earlier, before the external constraint of regulation. Then one day that constraint is lifted.
That is our situation today with aerial drones. It is exciting and a little scary all at the same time. When the rules of the game have changed that have nothing to do with the technology per se, the third thing you need to realize is this:
Business and marketing skills matter more than before
It will benefit you to think of unmanned drones in the technical jargon: UAS. That means unmanned aerial SYSTEM. The system, in the most important respect, is not only the physical hardware and software systems of your drone. It is the entire system in which it operates and interacts too. That means the people such as you the pilot or operator, the bystanders, the customers, the YouTube video viewers, the regulators, the park police who will ask you if you have a permit to fly…
The UAS system also includes the regulatory system of laws and regulations.
The UAS system also includes your back-office business systems that track your costs, schedules, and inventories.
The UAS system also includes your customer-facing elements such as a company name, website, branding, and marketing messages.
The UAS system includes the processes and procedures to make the system operate safely, reliably, and efficiently. That means things like checklists, quality control procedures, training manuals, and emergency procedures. It includes your safety equipment too, like a hard hat and brightly colored safety vest. (Needed when you use your drone on a construction site!)
Expand your mindset to think about the larger SYSTEM that we are living, working, and playing in today.
The FAA release of the Part 107 rules update for small unmanned aircraft systems (sUAS) has fundamentally changed the system in which we operate. It is time to stop, pause, and reflect on what this means for you and your goals.
In the big picture, this update means one thing:
BIG CHANGES AND OPPORTUNITIES AHEAD for ROCKET SCIENTISTS!
By that I mean everyone involved in the aerospace and aviation workforce and educational system. We are all “rocket scientists” in our own special way.
If you want to take action and ride the wave of innovation with UAS, stay in touch and stay engaged with me! The aerial drone revolution has just entered a new phase that allows many more people to enter the field. Let’s seize the opportunity and make it a positive force for Good, for ourselves, our careers, and our society.
Wondering where you should start or who you should talk with next? I’m immersed in the UAV world, with some awareness and connections in every aspect. Make an effort to reach out to me and I’ll respect your effort enough to reply back.
Thanks for your attention with this article. Take care and take charge!