The best drones for smaller commercial operations

3 March 2017

Commercial drone operators are a big market for drone manufacturers – and the market is growing fast. While industrial applications for drones are also expanding rapidly, the FAA says that 90% of new drone businesses in the US are small businesses, having one or two employees. So what drones do these businesses choose? Dronelife surveyed the global network of licensed drone operators to find out.

While the network of drone operators represents a large variety of skills, most offer services related to aerial imagery. Whether they are taking shots for marketing, art, events, real estate, film, or insurance claims; the majority of drone jobs are based around a camera. Forget the high priced industrial drones flying over large scale agriculture – those represent a small subset of drone operators with a speciality. For the vast majority of small business operators, prosumer drones are the tool of choice. And these drones are an investment – drone businesses are unlikely to upgrade their equipment with every new release, generally adding a new drone when they need one for specific functionality or when they take on more staff.

Boasting a huge percentage of the market (the exact number seems to depend upon who you ask), DJI is undisputedly the leading global drone manufacturer. It’s no surprise, therefore, that 3 out of the top 5 are manufactured by DJI.

  1. DJI Phantom Series: This is still the most common drone listed by small operators.
  2. Yuneec Typhoon: An inexpensive drone that packs in a lot of pro features. The RealSense technology for collision avoidance is one of its best features.
  3. DJI Inspire 1 Pro: A solid professional drone running under US$5,000.
  4. DJI Inspire 2: An update to the impressive Inspire 1. Heliguy wrote an excellent article detailing the differences between the Inspire 1 pro and 2.
  5. Free Fly Alta: This is drone can be expensive, however it is designed for professional filmmakers and offers a wide range for features for this purpose.

A more detailed breakdown can be found at Dronelife.