Sky-Futures USA Inc. has been operating under the FAA’s 333 Exemption since March of 2015.
As of 30 August, we are legally able to operate under a much more lenient set of rules:
– No private pilot’s license and/or structured training required
– No visual observer needed; and fewer overflight restrictions.
But the question is, will our Oil and Gas client base allow us to operate under these new regulations?
The release of Part 107 has made the UAS commercial market more accessible as a whole, but we think it will have little effect on the niche market of Oil and Gas. Since the new regulation, potential remote pilots have to be 16 years old and over and pass an online test to operate commercially. This low barrier to entry was both considered and intentional and we commend the FAA for its hands-off approach. We will see thousands of benign industries such as photography and real estate begin to use drones. The FAA made the deliberate decision with clear intention; for each industry to determine their own operational standards. They want each industry to determine what pilot training is required and what level of UAS sophistication is required for a particular job. We think we will find that many of the supermajors will continue to require that their contracted UAS pilots maintain a private pilot’s license and adhere to some sort of structured training and flight currency standard. The barriers to entry in the Oil and Gas industry will remain high, as they should, and only a small percentage of companies that understand the industry’s safety standards will make it into the fold. Oil companies will continue to operate under the strictest procedural processes and to the highest safety standards, which inevitably means only a handful of proven and trusted operators will be on their vendor lists.
Sky-Futures will continue to win work because we adhere to the highest safety standards. A standard not determined by the FAA, but by the industry.