Any day now, the FAA is expected to officially acknowledge the long-term viability of commercial drones by officially releasing its Part 107 ruling. Part 107 will dramatically simplify the process whereby commercial drone operators are able to conduct business.
In anticipation of the FAA ruling, Woo Trader spoke with Ben Miller of Draganfly Innovations. Ben is the founder of the Unmanned Aircraft Program at the Mesa County (Colorado) Sheriff’s Office and an acknowledged expert in the drone industry.
WooTrader: When do you anticipate the FAA will rule on Part 107?
Ben Miller: FAA Administrator Michael Huerta has indicated it will be early spring. Obviously, who knows what that means? I have a pretty extensive network and that network is feeding me a rumor that says April 1.
Woo Trader: What will change when Part 107 is actually adopted?
Miller: Currently, to fly a drone for hire you have to go through the FAA’s 333 Exemption process. This involves a lengthy (multi-page) application which the FAA says can take as long as 120 business days to process. I actually just got an email from someone at the FAA the other day saying there were 6,000 of these 333 requests that are backlogged right now.
When they release Part 107 it will be as easy as ‘you go read the rule online’ and as long as you’re doing the things the rule requires you’re good to go.
Woo Trader: So, will Part 107 totally replace the 333 Exemption process?
Miller: No. For example, as Part 107 (proposed) stands, Amazon (NASDAQ:AMZNC) could not deliver packages with drones because Part 107 will require the ability to actually see the drone in flight at all times.
What is important with Part 107 is the fact that that backlog 333 Exemption requests will go way down when they’re just processing those really unique requests such as Amazon’s.
Woo Trader: What sorts of companies will likely see immediate benefit when Part 107 passes?
Miller: Companies that survey, conduct inspections or take aerial photography. Architectural firms, insurance companies, farmers and even builders will all benefit.
In addition, their customers will benefit financially. For example, here in my hometown the local landfill has to have an aerial survey conducted every year. In the past the landfill would hire an airplane … and spend anywhere between $10,000 and $12,000. We (Draganfly) can do it with a drone for (less than) $300.
Woo Trader: What about the long-range effects of Part 107?
Miller: My expectation is that Part 107 will be the rule through which Amazon will eventually be allowed to deliver packages.
I think you’ll see significant transfer of technology (from standard aircraft to drones). Part 107 is an interstate road system, but it is single lane in each direction. Eventually the road will get widened but the road has to get there first.
5 Potential Drone PlaysInvestors stand to gain when Part 107 is adopted as well. To that end Personal Income recommends the following stocks as ones to watch moving forward.
GoPro (TSX:GPROB) is developing its own line of camera drones. While much of the company’s business relies on personal use, not affected by Part 107, the new line could see widespread commercial adoption, especially by small businesses like wedding photographers or realtors.
Amazon (NASDAQ:AMZNC), one of the most often-mentioned names when the subject of drones comes up will not gain immediately with Part 107 but as Ben Miller says, Part 107 is a two-lane road. The superhighway is coming.