The Power of Collaboration for the Future of the UK Drone Industry

The UK Drone Industry is both growing and stagnant at the same time. How can that be?

In January 2013 there were under 200 Permissions for Commercial Operation (PfCOs) issued by the Civil Aviation Authority (CAA). As at 23rd December 2019, the CAA has issued 10,700 PfCOs with only 5,624 being active. That active number hasn’t changed much over previous months, fluctuating within a few hundred, which tells us that people are training as fast as they are dropping out of the industry too, a dropout rate of 47%. Clearly the UK sees the opportunities that drones have to offer, but with nearly half of all companies deciding not to renew their PfCO, what can be done to improve the situation?

There are approximately 50 PfCOs held by the Blue Light Services, 25 by Councils, 63 by Universities and Colleges, meaning that currently less than 5% of PfCOs are held by Public Bodies. We expect this number to increase.

Currently it means that 95% of PfCOs are held by private companies. Many of these are companies that already existed and have taken the opportunity to expand their services or skills, eg surveyors, photographers, media and film companies. Many are “one man bands”, where someone has changed career either as a result of redundancy or from seeing an opportunity. The ones that do better are those that bring existing skills with them. It is crucial to have a clear plan that justifies the business drivers, including the safer, faster, cheaper and greener messages. 

Collaboration is key.

Collaboration can mean many things:

·        Working in partnership with local companies to build experience and explore local potential

·        Working with other drone companies to ‘white label’ work

·        Networking at different levels: LinkedIn is invaluable, as are local networking event and industry events

·        Sharing your knowledge with others. You’ll gain knowledge as well as share your own

·        Working together within the industry gives small companies a bigger Voice to key stakeholders: just one of the reasons we encourage companies to join ARPAS-UK


As the UK Drone Association, we collaborate too. Writing this blog is a form of collaboration to promote the overall drone industry. Other examples include working with the DfT, BEIS and the CAA on Regulations and Policy to coordinating with other Professional Bodies and much more.


As an Industry, we need to use this Power of Collaboration to come together to improve the Public Perception of Drones too to drive forward the integration of drones into UK society. We’re ready to collaborate - are you? Please feel free to get in touch

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