Slade Steele

Becoming a Contract 107 Pilot

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I recently received my 107 certification and would like to start making money by offering contract services.  In addition to my Phantom 4 Professional, I am waiting on a Matrice 210 with an XTR and Z30 so I can offer high-end services.  I have 6 years flying drones for recreation and fun and am now looking to transition into it professionally.  Problem is, I don't have a clue how to begin.  I don't really want to start a company where I have to go out and generate business but would rather just contract with one or more already established companies.  I live in the Tampa, FL area and would be willing to travel as reasonable.  Any suggestions on how to get going with this?

Thanks

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On 5/13/2017 at 11:10 AM, Slade Steele said:

 I don't really want to start a company where I have to go out and generate business but would rather just contract with one or more already established companies.  I live in the Tampa, FL area and would be willing to travel as reasonable.  Any suggestions on how to get going with this?

Not to be flippant, but don't quit your day job. Until you find a service that needs to be filled and are capable of meeting the requirements of the customer, it's going to be a slow haul. I understand not wanting to start a company but if you are going to be profitable and this is going to turn into a full-time gig (eventually), that is the way to go. You can build some commercial experience filling in on the jobs for hire sites, but you probably are not going to make a living at it. But you knew this already right?

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Thanks for the response.   You are correct in that I am not planning to make a living from this.   Maybe just make enough money to cover the cost of the equipment and insurance.   I just love flying and aerial photography.   Figured the high-end equipment might give me a leg up in the market.

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3 hours ago, Slade Steele said:

Thanks for the response.   You are correct in that I am not planning to make a living from this.   Maybe just make enough money to cover the cost of the equipment and insurance.   I just love flying and aerial photography.   Figured the high-end equipment might give me a leg up in the market.

Starting off, that is a pretty realistic goal then. The airspace around you is a little congested but should not pose too many problems with the proper planning. I know there are plenty of shots waiting to be captured in the area, and you should have a blast collecting them.

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Hope so as that is the plan.  I plan to retire from my real job sometime next year and plan to pursue my photography goals.  I do a lot of in the area of wildlife and nature (www.franksphotos.com) and figured maybe I could expand to doing some more technical and forensic type work if I could hang my camera from an unmanned aerial vehicle.  What the heck.  Life is full of surprises!

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As part of your due diligence you might want to consider a different platform. The M200 is overpriced, DJI is a vertically integrated closed system, you can't use any other DJI batteries or accessories from one DJI model on a different model let alone third party accessories.  So it's doubtful that you could just "hang" your camera.  

Also, there's no hardware redundancy on the M200, it's a quad and if there's any issue with primary flight propulsion it falls from the sky and there's nothing you can do about it.  DJI will tell you they are reliable, but it doesn't matter what they say, it matters what your customer thinks.  If you want to do this commercially then you will probably be flying in and around things that costs orders of magnitudes more than the drone, and it's your customers who don't want to take the risk.

There are a lot of reasons that DJI is a poor choice for commercial operations and fortunately better choices are starting to become available.  It's not likely that the M200 will start shipping anytime soon so you might as well take the time to research a better alternative.

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Funny you should mention that? 

We manufacture a modular Y6 with an open architecture so that its possible to integrate it into already existing workflows,.

Modular and easy to reconfigure to meet mission needs.

Detachable booms make it compact and portable for quick and easy deployment and shipping.

 

_D6A5329-Edit.jpg

_D6A5339.jpg

Edited by Av8Chuck

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One of my considerations for a DJI product is that, because of their market share, there's a lot more software that integrates directly into their systems. Plus, while I recognize the safety factor of more than 4 props, I am also quite interested in the efficiency of a quad.

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There are several things to consider.  First it all depends on how you define "commercial" and what problem your trying to solve.

If you are licensed and have to certify the data you deliver, that is a level of both risk and responsibility where  drones in general have not had a great deal of impact here in the US and in Europe there are several alternatives to DJI that have gained traction.

If your doing industrial inspection then the shelf life of using a quad is almost zero.  Utilities, Oil & Gas, Telecommunications etc are very concerned about not ending up on the news and equally concerned about the damage that can be caused by an out of control drone.  Quads have no hardware redundancy and it's these customers aversion to risk that will totally hate your growth.

regarding the efficiency of a Y6 versus a quad.  In order to get the level of accuracy required the sensors we carry are generally $35k+ and weigh about five pounds.  You put that much weight on a quad, even if it can carry it, the efficiency plummets.

Edited by Av8Chuck
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Just joined this forum, forgive any faux pas...

AV8Chuck, where can I find info about this Y6?

I am currently flying a P4P, happy with the handing and stability, but wishing I could go larger format for my fine art printing.  Have a DJI SW 1000, to carry my Sony A7R,  but never liked it or felt confident with it.

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