Commercial Drone Industry

A recent Commercial drone industry report predicts that total spending on could exceed $100 billion worldwide by the year 2020. The defense sector remains the largest area of spending and is expected to spend a total of over $70 billion on drones between 2016 and 2020. The second biggest area of spending, at $17 billion, will be the consumer market (members of the public buying their drones from DJI and other major manufacturers).

Commercial drone market in 2018

The commercial drone market is quickly expanding in 2019 faster than it’s record setting pace in 2018. Two industries dominate this projected spending with an 80% share combined. The first, construction, is the biggest industry sector at $11 billion USD, covering a very wide area of work including inspection, maintenance, surveying and mapping.

Commercial drones are used in construction because specialist equipment is required for a lot of this type of work. For example surveying large areas very accurately may require a fixed wing aircraft and ground control points or an RTK receiver.

The second biggest area of growth of commercial drones is predicted to be agriculture at $6 billion. The growth here will be driven by precision agriculture, a part of which traditionally has been carried out using satellite imagery, or by handheld or tractor mounted sensors. You’re not going to find cheap drones in the AG sector.

The data gathered and analysis carried out is then used by variable rate technology on equipment such as seeders and sprayers. Drones are now another option for farmers to capture NDVI imagery, and have been able to capture and process maps quicker than satellites. As for construction specialist equipment is required, mainly a multi spectral camera and then the software to map the farm. For larger farms fixed wings also become a viable option.

The use of commercial drones is growing and maturing quickly, and at the same time we are seeing a huge growth in the number of licences issues to drone pilots. It will be hard going for these pilots to make a career commercially without specializing and moving above and beyond basic photography and videos.

How much is the commercial drone market worth?

In 2016, the global commercial drone market was worth $4.5 billion USD. By the end of the 2017 financial year it was worth $17.82 billion. If this shocking trend continues (and depending on whose numbers and analysis you trust most) the commercial drone market is expected to be worth between 50 and $100 billion by the year 2020.

Commercial Drone Market Forecast

As stated above construction and agriculture are two major areas of drone market growth that pilots should definitely consider moving into if they want to make a lot of money flying drones. This will require two things: firstly, developing the qualifications and training for an industry-specific skill set. Secondly, buying the necessary equipment required to complete the job effectively.

In terms of the wider implications of the future of the drone market, the amount of money spent is predicted to grow but the percentage of the market captured by each sector will probably stay the same. Commercial drone use and enterprise drone use are already up from last year and will make up about 31.3 percent and 51 percent of the drone market, respectively.

In terms of individual companies, DJI is likely to continue to reign supreme well into the future of the drone market. They currently own 70 percent of the enterprise drone market share, and with the impending release of the Mavic Pro 2 and the Phantom 5, there’s no reason to believe that number will drop by any significant measure any time soon. Making drones with all the latest innovations is simply too expensive for anyone else to break into the market at a competitive price point.

The commercial drone market is not to be taken lightly anymore. It’s not just hobby flyers taking real estate listing photos. It is becoming and an important and highly integrated part of the general aviation industry. If you are looking for an experienced and knowledge expert in the market, get in touch with us at NextGen Executive Search

About Craig Hufford

Managing Partner | Retained Executive Search Consultant with 30+ years recruiting senior executives and functional leaders for Aerospace and Aviation in power electronics, motor drives / controls, aircraft electrical power, in-seat IFEC and CMS.

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