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Any real data on percent taking recurrent test?

HAWK-i.us

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I hear scuttlebutt that the rate of Part 107 pilots recertifing is fairly low, like 50% or less. I'm interested in that, but can't find any real data on it. Anyone know of any?
 

2edgesword

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Remote pilots licensing started in August 2016. The total number of active pilots by year are...

2018 106,321
2017 69,166
2016 20,362

Unfortunately there is no way to tell how many of the current active pilots are pilots from 2016 that renewed and are reflected in the 2018 numbers.
 
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BigAl07

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I hear scuttlebutt that the rate of Part 107 pilots recertifing is fairly low, like 50% or less. I'm interested in that, but can't find any real data on it. Anyone know of any?
Since Remote Pilots are not required to update the FAA when they take their recurrent tests/courses, we don't have hard numbers. We can look at the number of recurrent tests/courses taken, but there's not a direct correlation. I will say that there are far fewer people taking the courses than when compared with 2 years ago. So the logical conclusion would be that there are less people staying current. However, there's no way to correlate that with whether or not they are still flying (illegally) or have just decided to stop.
 

HAWK-i.us

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Interesting info. 300+ % increase from '16 to '17. 50% increase from '17 to '18. Looks like the initial enthusiasm is waning.

I encounter rather a discouraging lot of drone pilots that started doing in-house commercial work before the Part 107 was put in place and continue without getting certificated. Doesn't mean they're not following the rules otherwise, just driving without a license or insurance. Unfortunate for lots of reasons.

2Edgesword -- where are you finding data?

Thanks.......... R
 

HAWK-i.us

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If look at absolute change instead of percent change, it still says the rate is declining. ~49,000 increase from '16-'17, and ~ 37,000 from '17-'18. I suspect that folks are learning that it's not that easy to make money commercially with drones.

The applications still seem to be growing steadily though. I'm seeing tons of competition for low-end drone work, but less so in more technically demanding work.

There seems to be rather a large technological segmentation in the market for different applications. I don't encounter a lot of individual commercial pilots serving multiple industries, perhaps because of the limited cross-over of technology and equipment required from one to another. I suspect that the technology and cost hurdle rates for higher paying applications is also slowing the rate of pilots certificating P107.

What was it Yogi said about forecasting? "Forecasting is especially hard about the future", or some such thing. Anyway -- Thanks for the data. It's fun to read the tea leaves .
 

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I'm also seeing several "operators" who are saying, "There's no enforcement so why do the re-certification and waste $150?"

I'm sure many are "getting away without it" but there will probably come a time when someone W/O has an incident and when that happens the definition for "Educational Moment" may get redefined. . . .
 

HAWK-i.us

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Just like driving with no license and no insurance. Can get away with it, maybe for years. But if you're in an accident, or just stopped for speeding, no mercy.
 
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HAWK-i.us

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I guess an alternate interpretation of the decline in registered pilots is that lack of enforcement.

IMO, as soon as the FAA has a chance, there'll be an example made.
 
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skiptv

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Pilots that are not renewing are pilots who have got out. For one reason or another. Just because you became a pilot didn't mean you knew how to start and run a business, or maneuver a new emerging job market. As an instructor at a University this is one of the biggest problems facing new pilots. SO!! Those who are not renewing are not all of a sudden deciding to 'break the law' and not get their licensed renewed after they went through all the trouble and money to get it in the first place. Nope they are getting out completely.
 
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LUIS MARTINEZ

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Pilots that are not renewing are pilots who have got out. For one reason or another. Just because you became a pilot didn't mean you knew how to start and run a business, or maneuver a new emerging job market. As an instructor at a University this is one of the biggest problems facing new pilots. SO!! Those who are not renewing are not all of a sudden deciding to 'break the law' and not get their licensed renewed after they went through all the trouble and money to get it in the first place. Nope they are getting out completely.
Did someone conduct a survey of those failing to renew?
If not, this is all pure speculation.
 

HAWK-i.us

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No way to know with confidence. What I can be sure of is that we are watching history being made all around us. It would be nice to have some idea where it's headed.
 

GadgetGuy

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Pilots that are not renewing are pilots who have got out. For one reason or another. Just because you became a pilot didn't mean you knew how to start and run a business, or maneuver a new emerging job market. As an instructor at a University this is one of the biggest problems facing new pilots. SO!! Those who are not renewing are not all of a sudden deciding to 'break the law' and not get their licensed renewed after they went through all the trouble and money to get it in the first place. Nope they are getting out completely.
I agree. The data are misleading. The vast majority of those who initially got their 107 thought it would be easy side money to help pay for their hobby, and some even thought they could quit their day jobs. Once reality set in, they realized it was far better as a hobby than a business, and didn't renew their 107, and remained hobbyists. With all the additional regulations imposed upon hobbyists, many also abandoned the hobby as well. The 3 Day Seminar guys are still apparently barnstorming around the country about all the easy money to be made as a drone pilot. So, they are helping replace the 107 guys not renewing with new guys with visions of sugar plums. "There's a sucker born every minute!" according to P.T. Barnum! Once they have been had, they drop out!
 

HAWK-i.us

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The high growth rate in new applications for drone sensing/imaging is probably reinforcing that "concierge" notion. There's not much money or room in the low-tech applications like real estate MLS photos and insurance inspections. I'm thinking the ones who're staying are specializing in higher value-added work that requires a technical specialty.

I serve construction and am finding more and more that surveyors and grading companies are growing their own in-house drone programs around photogrammetry. The larger companies have been doing it in-house for a couple of years. The small-but-growing companies are trying to figure out what to do with it and are a target client for me. The small-but-not-growing companies are happy to truck along ignoring tech innovation. The net effect is that technical innovation in this industry (like drone mapping) is becoming commoditized by those who already have the specialty training and experience in that industry. It's easier for them to learn to fly a drone legally than it is for a drone pilot to learn surveying or site development. If that holds true for other industries, and I think it should, it says a lot about where the growth will occur for Part 107 pilots. It'll be with people who are trying to solve a problem in their native industry, not with guys who became drone pilots because they thought they were good at it and could sell it to people who aren't.
 

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I think Hawk is right on target, many companies are going in house. Why pay a company six to eight hundred dollars a day when you can have one of your own people trained for a fraction of that. Lets be honest, there is no rocket science to flying a drone. However fire, police, construction know their own needs and potential applications.
The client that I am currently working for is a major nation wide construction company. To the best of my knowledge UC Merced is the first time they have used drones for construction documentation and mapping. Actually when I started in Jan 2018 they didn't even know what mapping was, and obviously didn't understand the accuracy potential. They went from giving it a try to feeling they can't live without it. My contract is up in Aug of 2020, and I'm already getting indications they are going in house. One of their engineers that is responsible for organizing the survey work on the site picks my brain continually and I"m sure he already has a drone and my be working towards his 107. Reason I say this is he has asked me many questions about air space restrictions.
When UC Merced starts it's third phase, I would bet they won't be signing six to eight hundred dollar a day contracts, they will most likely have their own people Why shouldn't they/

As for the number of 107 operators retesting, who knows, but I'm sure many jumped into the business thinking they were going to make some serious money and found there is no pot of gold at the end of the rainbow. For professional photographers today the drone is just another tool in their box of photographic equipment, their knowledge, creative eye, and reputation keeps them employed, not the drone.
 
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R.Perry

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Hit post too soon. As for me, I will stay current even after I retire because I will be using my drone for my hobby and enjoyment. For me it just seems prudent to stay on top of the new regulations and stay on the right side of the law.
 

HAWK-i.us

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R. Perry -- You may find some extension in your current business relationships by offering to help them set up an in-house program. You can point out that there's lots more than getting a 107 cert.
 

HAWK-i.us

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I'm kinda thinking that those commercial drone pilots who can stay the course through the in-house movement will start to pick up some out-sourcing moves two or three years after companies get a taste of rolling there own. But of course the prices for outsourcing will have declined, so it'll still be a tough market.
 

R.Perry

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R. Perry -- You may find some extension in your current business relationships by offering to help them set up an in-house program. You can point out that there's lots more than getting a 107 cert.
Thanks Hawk, very true, but I'll be 72 then, wife said it is time to retire.
 
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