Economic boom predicted for US civil UAV market


Donald McKelvy
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Aug 14, 2009
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"Economic boom predicted for US civil UAV market"

12 March 2013 - 16:00 by Beth Stevenson in London


A paper on the economic impact of UAV integration into national US airspace has identified ‘enormous’ benefits if this is achieved on schedule and on time.

The ‘AUVSI Economic Report 2013’, in reference to the planned opening up of the national airspace to UAVs in the US by 2015, argued that if this happens effectively the market potential between 2015 and 2017 is some $13.6 billion, and $82.1 billion between 2015 and 2025.

However, the paper predicts that if the effort is delayed it will cost the US billions of dollars in potential revenue. For each year of delay some $10 billion of ‘potential economic impact’ is lost: ‘This translates to a loss of $27.6 million per day that UAS are not integrated into the NAS,’ the report’s authors explained.

While UAVs are already used in a range of civil applications, including wildfire mapping, weather monitoring and telecommunications, the paper outlined other potential jobs that the platforms could carry out, primarily precision agriculture and public safety. It predicts that these two markets will produce approximately 90% of the known potential future markets for UAVs.

‘The economic benefits to the country are enormous,’ the paper explained. ‘Covering and justifying the cost of UAS is straightforward. In the precision agriculture market, the average price of the UAS is a frac¬tion of the cost of a manned aircraft, such as a helicopter or crop duster, without any of the safety hazards. For public safety, the price of the product is approximately the price of a police squad car equipped with standard gear.

‘It is also operated at a fraction of the cost of a manned aircraft, such as a helicopter, reducing the strain on agency budgets as well as the risk of bodily harm to the users in many difficult and dangerous situations. Therefore, the cost-benefit ratios of using UAS can be easily understood.’

The lack of regulatory structure was highlighted as a possible hindrance to civil UAV integration due to non-military system operations being few and far between.

‘However, the combination of greater flexibility, lower capital and lower operating costs could allow UAS to be a transformative technology in fields as diverse as urban infrastructure management, farming, and oil and gas exploration to name a few,’ the paper continued. ‘Present-day UAS have longer operational duration and require less maintenance than earlier models. In addition, they can be operated remotely using more fuel efficient technologies.’

Meanwhile, it is estimated that by 2025 some 100,000 jobs will have been created by the UAV market in the US.

The likelihood of all of this being possible depends on a few factors. These include the FAA developing new regulations for the integration, capital support for smaller manufacturing companies, insurance availability, and financing for UAV customers.


Staff member
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Mar 11, 2006
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Not only in the US, but in the old world, too, many people are getting shining eyes about the prospects
of this market. A German site aimed at private investors is predicting a eral big future market.

And probably not just accidentally, the EU is discussing a parer with the title "Towards a European strategy for
the development of civil applications of Remotely Piloted Aircraft Systems (RPAS)"
( ), aimed at the use of civil UAV in public


ACCESS: Top Secret
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May 26, 2011
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Afternoon chaps,

Also using UAVs for inspections in oil and gas. Imagine my surprise to see a UAV buzzing around the Beryl Alpha platform in the North Sea. These chaps are here inspecting the flare tip and other parts of the platform. Used to use a crew-change chopper, much to the chagrin and delay of those going off, but these are cheaper and invite less ire. So we like 'em.



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Apr 21, 2009
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