New Regulations Allow SWFL Drone Company To Expand Nationwide

Sep 21, 2016

A Southwest Florida company is benefiting from a major shift in how unmanned aircrafts, or “drones," are regulated. The new rules reduce the standards for who can fly the drones. This is allowing Fort Myers-based Soaring Sky to expand nationwide.  

Soaring Sky pilot, Adam Winkle, inspects a cell tower
Credit Courtesy / Soaring Sky

Commercial drone pilots are hired to do things like create 3D maps of lands, survey properties and inspect tall towers. Before August, anyone who operated a commercial drone, essentially, had to have the credentials of an airplane pilot—it was an expensive and long process.

Now, anyone can just take a test. Soaring Sky's Allyson Hanson said the new rules allow them to hire more operators to do work across the country.

"So it allows us to actually grow and expand as we recruit these, now much more qualified, pilots who have a better understanding of the environment in which they’re working," she said. 

Hanson said the new rules legitimize this emerging industry. She also said Soaring Sky has more than 50 drone operators right now, and it does not plan on capping how many more it wants to hire. 

Specialized imagery from drone shows plant growth on a golf course.
Credit Courtesy / Soaring Sky