How much does it cost to use a drone for commercial purposes?

If you are one of the many people in the UK that counts flying a drone as one of their regular hobbies, it could be tempting to pack in the day job and enter the commercial drone business, using your past time to earn some money while having some fun along the way! Here at UAVAir, we don’t blame you – in fact, we encourage it and take pride in training up candidates just like yourself, ready to enjoy their new career. However, there is an initial cost involved when making the decision, and it is something that should be considered by all budding commercial drone pilots. So, how much does it cost to use and own a drone for commercial purposes? Let us explain.

First and foremost, you need to train at a CAA (Commercial Aviation Authority) approved academy and receive your qualifications before you can legally fly for commercial purposes. Here at UAVAir we are happy to help you do this, and have a range of options available at various prices. On its own, Ground School is priced at £1200, while your Flight Assessment will cost £215. This can be paid in instalments to spread the cost or you can complete our Fast Track course, which is £1,415 excluding VAT. Learn more about our prices on our website.

Initial equipment
Once qualified, you must invest in the initial equipment you need to start flying a drone commercially. The type of drone you buy will depend on the applications you intend to use it for. The Phantom 3 professional quadcopter drone from DJI is recommended for media or other imaging applications, with a high-resolution camera that also has filming capabilities, but it is priced at £700 - £900. Some models, such as the DJI Mavic Pro 4K can run over £1,000. Other models such as the 3DR Solo Quadcopter costs between £400 - £600.

Specialist equipment
If you’ve been in the industry for a while and are starting to get to know the specific needs of your customers, you may realise that you need to invest in some more specialist equipment. If you venture into engineering, for example, this could be some additional sensors such as a voltage and current sensor or a thermal imaging camera, costing anywhere between £10 - £50, depending on what you required. If you're looking to attach a specific camera to your drone, this may cost a few hundred pounds. You may also want to consider having a case for your equipment to protect against damages. These can range from £50-£100, depending on your preferences.

Business costs
Finally, running a business comes with unavoidable costs that are necessary to keep your organisation successful. Marketing efforts such as making and running a website will need to be considered, as well as any overheads that you may endure due to hiring additional staff, accountants or other outsourced services.

Although it may seem like a large initial investment, deciding to enter the commercial drone industry could open up the door for a long, rewarding and successful career, making these initial costs worthwhile! If you’re ready to take the plunge and turn your hobby into a job, learn more about how UAVAir can help you gain the qualifications needed online.