Tips for running a UAV business


Junior Member
Because I'm aspiring to be a professional UAV builder and operator, I'm starting this thread to collect tips on running a UAV business. You can just give the most important business lessons you've learned, or I have some questions to get the ball rolling. Full disclosure, I'm writing a business plan for this as my grad thesis, so this is also research for me.

Is there any competition in UAV services, or is it pretty non-competitive?
What services are you using UAVs to provide?
What are the biggest challenges of offering UAV services?
How much does it cost to get a small UAV operation up and going?
How much do you charge for your services?
Does anybody have more than one person on their team? What are the different roles?



Active member
The more experienced and educated here can correct me if I am wrong, but currently it is not legal to have a UAV business as it is not legal to fly them commercially.


Junior Member
i have seen a bizz out there but its for mapping and site aerial photos. and i have been told to do the same thing get a biz going or something due to the faa closing in on making it a law that you can't fly period. if this is true or not i don't know for sure but figured i would toss it out there. but again i am no expert on this matter just a park flyer


Amateur Extra Class K5TWM
There is absolutely NOTHING illegal about having a UAV business in the USA! Many are producing and selling craft. The current FAA issue which is not yet law is making money flying a UAV.

For some unknown reason the current administration thinks that all hobbies must drain resources and never make money or they are deemed professional ventures which is utter nonsense. Many of my age group were encouraged to have hobbies in our youth that were BOTH Fun AND Profitable.

Money made is the purview of the IRS and NOT the FAA!

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New member
You can sell RC UAV equipment as many hobby shops and online shops do.

But technically, you are not allowed do any type of RC flying for profit.
You can probably take and sell pictures shot from a balloon or kite...but balloons and kites don't fall under the regulations.

Thus people offering services of aerial real estate photography, agriculture survey, search and rescue, news gathering, special effects photography for movies...etc...They are all currently breaking the law.
Many argue that there is no specific laws passed by Congress dealing with this issue.
But there are laws passed by Congress giving the FAA regulatory powers...and FAA regulations carry the weight of law.

To be technically within the law, you can get a COA (certificate of authorization) which the FAA can issue you as an exemption to the "commercial restrictions".
But the actual number of COA's issued is miniscule at best.
COA's are mostly given to government agencies...but there have been some special effects cinema companies who have recently been given permission for commercial operations.

These regulations don't stop the many hundreds or maybe thousands of people offering commercial services.
As slow as the wheels of the FAA are turning, it could be another 4 or 5 years before some of these issues of "commercial use" are resolved.


Flugzeug Liebhaber
The more experienced and educated here can correct me if I am wrong, but currently it is not legal to have a UAV business as it is not legal to fly them commercially.
Here is an update on the FAA's activity and reaction to commercial UAS. The docket can be viewed to see all the Exemptions that allows for hire flight; it is ok to copy someone else's request as long as you abide by the program you tell them you will implement.

I have not researched server costs, but $5 an acre/year is my target price for agri servaying; and a dedicated "google earth" website for each farmer.



I'm a care bear...Really?
Don't forget your full size pilot license that you need to have in order to get your approval from the FAA