Demand not as high as expected for commercial drone operators

August 13, 2017 - 6:14 pm

WICHITA, Kan. (KNSS) - A company in Kansas, formed in 2014 by a group of military veterans with a background in unmanned aircraft, thought their services would be in demand to operate commercial drones. So far, that hasn't happened.

The company, Blue Chip UAS, was the first company in the region to receive a Federal Aviation Administration exemption to legally operate commercial drones.

But three years later, changes in the drone industry led the group to halt its activities and those involved in the company have taken other jobs.

A key investor in Blue Chip UAS, Jim Ballard, said he initially thought the FAA would have stricter rules for commercial drone operations that would require someone with experience in operating unmanned aircraft to help companies provide imaging, three-dimensional mapping and other aerial services to the agriculture, oil and gas, construction and filmmaking industries.

Most of the contracts the company hoped to get didn't materialize, and companies that might have hired the group bought their own drones and trained their employees to fly them.

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