Geospatial drone service gears up after Part 107 release

By Luke Geiver | July 07, 2016

After five years of drone mapping consulting and being one of the first survey-focused U.S. Federal Aviation Administration section 333 exemption holders, CompassDrone is gearing up for expansion following the release of Part 107, the rule that will supplant the regulations to fly sUAS commercially. “With Part 107 out, it is relaxing people to get into the marketplace,” said Brant Howard, founder of CompassDrone, a division of CompassTool. “We have a product at a price point that will enable them to get into business.” 

For Howard, servicing surveying-focused clients with UAVs for sale, lease or rent, along with sensors, software or data processing, represents a global opportunity for the company of 50. As a long-time distributor of Trimble and Swift airplane products, Howard was approached earlier this year by DJI to be the first distributor in the U.S. to sell the drone manufacturers platforms for commercial purposes. “We are putting together a hangar of capabilities,” Howard said. 

As Part 107 plays out, the company is excited for more clients that are finally at ease with the regulatory side of UAS. Now, the team is looking at additional sensors and image capture capabilities that can be added to its product offerings. 

Mitch Tweedy, product manager for CompassDrone, called the drone business today the wild, wild west earlier this year in a press release from the company. As professional organizations work to meet FAA standards with reliable equipment, Tweedy believes companies like CompassDrone that have a full suite of products can help entities utilize UAS. 

Howard points to the company’s ability to service its own equipment or perform specialty flights, ground control or data processing services to clients as a major attractant to current or future clients. “We are here as a facilitator to get the drone into the professional’s business,” he said, “And we are excited that we have several projects to work on.” 

While the use of sUAS is still being figured out by many clients, Howard sees the release of Part 107 as a turning point for expanding its business. The team hopes to target mid-sized jobs that do not require the mobilization of an airplane. It is also looking to expand its network of dealers—that ranges from the upper Midwest to New Mexico—into the entire U.S.