Pilot / Operator's Directory

Hi. Is there a national drone directory of pilots and operators in the UK, something akin to CheckATrade or Bark where jobs and services are advertised and reviewed?

And is there a preferred affiliated governing body of sorts, other than the CAA? Thanks.

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I may have just found the answer to my first question… DronePilots4U? Is that a good place to start? Any competitors worth mentioning?

Seen one called Drone Safe Register but the reviews aren’t great. Heard people say when you sign up you’ll get calls from other registers to sign up to theirs to make money and get jobs… sounds annoying.

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Sounds like the other registers aren’t complying with data protection and Drone Safe needs to tighten up their own. I did come across Drone Safe too but wasn’t sure how good it was. Appreciate your input, thanks.

Drone safe was on Dragons den and was invested in it by Peter Jones !, who also owned Jessops, and owns a part of DJI.
The idea was to pay to become registered with Dronsafe, either as a commercial operator or hobbyist. If you were registered as a commercial operator, the carrot on the end of the stick was that companies interesting in hiring a commercial,pilot would make enquiries with Drone safe as to who was in their area, and pass the enquiry to you. It was launched with great fanfare and people signed up expecting the work to roll in…I can’t say whether anyone has become rich with more commercial work than they can handle, but there’s no doubt Mr Jones has made a bob or two!!

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Hey Brian. I’ve been checking the site out a little more. Seems to be less than 500 sign ups which, given there are over 5620 (and rising) PfCO registered pilots in the UK is not great. I’m not sure Mr Jones is going to get his money back based on those figures.

That said, I love this forum and the wide array of conversations that can be found here. Learning lots and making good connections. Despite this, I feel there’s a gap in the market for a site that caters solely to commercial operators, with benefits to match. Maybe I’m wrong but if it exists, I’d love to find it. And if it doesn’t, I have a few ideas of my own…

The problem we have is that everyone is on the bandwagon now, it’s a bit like the video rental business of the 80s, they were springing up everywhere, prices were being cut and nobody was making a profit in the end. Most film companies have there own drone unit , the BBC certainly do, and they can buy footage from the Internet for a news article with just a small fee to the operator, and he doesn’t even have to have a pfco in order to sell it, as long as the intention of the flight wasn’t for commercial gain of course. I very much doubt there’s many people actually making any money commercially, other than those who have been given research grants to look at possible drone deliveries, and even these ‘drones’ are more akin to small aircraft.


We’ve all but given up on drones in agriculture now too.

The fixed wing Discos still get an outing every now and then with the Sequoia camera but we don’t even offer it as a service to clients now, internal use only.

Satellite NDVI and chlorophyll index imagery is so good now, and largely free. It doesn’t care about windy days either. Coupled with LIDAR which doesn’t care about cloud either…

I said it somewhere else on here, the race to the bottom began long ago.

So who’s making money in the drone industry today (outside of the film industry)?

The people providing the training courses, that’s who.

But they also began their race to the bottom a year or so ago when they saw the new CAA regs coming :confused:

Hi guys,

Well this is worrying… as a new entrant I was hoping for more positives when it comes to potential opportunities. My focus is on Inspections, Mapping and Surveying, plus Internal inspections (more niche). I understand the limited scope in agriculture in the UK and aerial photography / videography has been around donkeys and is a specialist area in its own right. Here’s hoping that with the right kit (M300 RTK) I can turn a profit and make this work, but I’m open to advice, suggestions and insights from all.

I’ve heard from others and roughly 50% appear to have built successful businesses with the other 50% failing. I suspect the failure rate is actually significantly higher than that but who knows?

Anyway, advise from those who have succeeded or not, or are interested in partnering up – give me a shout. And as for the directory… the ideas I have for this may well be worth a punt and again, interested in sounding people out on this first.

You might need to do more research. What is your expected income you need to live comfortably on, what amount of work would you need to get in to make that profit? Let’s say you want to earn £50000. How many commissions would you need to take on to earn the 80 or 90 grand for 50 grand profit, taking into account the 10 or more grand investment, vehicle cost, fuel, time editing, advertising, safety case, insurance etc etc etc and of course the 3 or 4 months of the year when it’s impossible to fly.
I suspect that the ones who have been successful so far have used the drones as a bolt on or another revenue stream (you tubers?) to an existing business and promoted it as an extra service, (for example a wedding photographer). The weather plays a huge part, you can be grounded for weeks on end with no money coming in. Investing in good kit is only one part of the equation, you need to be able to offer something that many others don’t, such as infrared, lidar etc, a significant investment, even before you’ve turned a prop and then promote it. I believe there is a market out there, but it is crowded, and whether a profitable business can be made out of it, who knows.
A lot of guys in the begoning got on the training gravy train, charging at the time a whopping £1300 for a pfco, this has dropped dramatically since I started flying about 4 years ago.
Which is a good indicator of where things are going, if it is so lucrative and successful, the price for training for pfco would have risen not dropped. If the dipwits at the CAA drop the requirement for a pfco later this year then we’ll see a further influx of budding drone entrepreneurs all in the race for the bottom. Business is about risk, a calculated one, I made and then lost almost 1 million in the 90s, it was the best of times and the worst of times. But a heck of a ride, are you prepared to lose everything?


Hi Brian

I see from your profile pic, that you’re a fellow rider too. Good man! You make all the right points and fortunately, I’m running this alongside my existing business. Unfortunately, that other business is in events & exhibitions, which as you can imagine is somewhat flat on its back right now as well. I definitely agree with your assessment about investing in the right kit to provide something that most of the influx of Mavic / Phantom entrants will not be able to compete with. Lidar is definitely something I’m interested in exploring further and I have recently purchased the M300 RTK with H20T gimbal, and looking at Phase One cameras and the Flyability Elios 2 for internal inspection work. I know some lidar cameras go for as much as £150k but that’s another level altogether. Of course, deliveries will have their place in the sun, but will be cornered by existing R&D companies I suspect. Still, I don’t think my business (or any business) will survive on flying jobs alone. I’m interested in creating new initiatives for the industry (three in the pipeline already) that focusses on the professional / commercial operators, plus retailing specialist kit I like, and yes, YouTube – which I am far from comfortable with but know I need to master. So Service, Fulfilment, Retail and Marketing. We’ll see if that’s enough!

But in answer to your last point – yes. Prepared to try and happy to take calculated risks.

Out of interest, what was your business? What do you do now?

I admire your enthusiasm for thinking of running a drone business alongside your existing business. I can see various opportunities where others don’t have the commercial edge in a crowded market place.
I made my money originally in the cleaning business, then made even more in electrical retail, buying electrical return items, by the truck load and selling them on. However, I loved photography and bought a photo processing laboratory. That is where I lost the lot, house, car, everything so had to start from the bottom with nowhere to live and a family to feed I had to rent a house, took a job with a company based in Cambridge, worked from 5am to 9pm every day as a self employed sales rep and built up a lucrative business in the North of England, and went from earning nothing to £700 a week by sheer hard work and determination. My wife then said she’d had enough of me working for myself and suggested I get a proper job. She looked in a newspaper and found a job as a railway signaller on a pittance at the time. (£120 per week). I applied to keep he quiet and ended up with the job, I worked myself up and became incident officer for 10 years before last year when I was asked to help out in the route operations centre signalling trains.Thats my story.

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If you want to email me directly (and if it’s ok to give out contact details here???) then please ping me a line at jules@dgnfly.com. Would love to discuss those ‘various opportunities’ with you a little more.

Thanks, I’m a bit tied up at the moment as my wife’s mother passed away on Tuesday evening, and I’m sorting everything out.

Hi Brian

Oh I’m really sorry to hear this. Was it something sudden? Anyway, of course, no need to reply. Please accept my sincere condolences and I hope you get everything sorted without too many issues.

All the best,


Thank you, it was expected but not so soon, the Dr thought she might have maybe 2 weeks, which was wildly off the mark, passing away within a day.
On top of this is the other son-in laws own mother has just fallen victim to a telephone scam.
She received a call saying she can sign up to a telephone preference service and stop nuisance calls… So she gave them her bank details!!!
They’ve already taken £150 and then called her to set up a direct debit and taken another £25.00 saying she is entitled to a pensioners special rate. She’s 86, very very naive, not used to the ways of the world, has very little money and now this mess to sort out. Thanks for your kind thoughts.

Hi Brian,

My God, that’s awful on both fronts. My man, I’m sooo sorry to hear your news. I’m especially angry about the scams especially as there seems to be so little protection against these things, and little to no investigation by the police / action fraud. Thank goodness it’s only £175, which I know is a lot but could have been a whole lot worse. Well done for picking up on this and helping her. Gosh, it’s all coming at once, hey? Have you got enough support around you at the moment?

By the way, I’m typing this in my email app, but presumably this is still going straight to the forum? Feel free to email me directly if you prefer.

All the best,


Thanks Jules, I don’t mind who sees this, if its a reminder to all in the club and if it gets to a wider audience to be vigilant, then that’s fine by me.
I don’t have any support myself, I seem to be every one else’s. But everything is bimbling along fine with me. I’ve sorted the flowers, the funeral director, the Dpt of pensions, Dr’s, death certificates, vets (for her dog) and the bank for them.
I feel sorry for the rest of the family who have the real worry sorting out after the scam artists. If I can take the worry and pressure off them so they concentrate, get a clear head of what has happened and how to sort it, I will.

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Hell Brian. Well done for sorting the flowers and so on. It’s a hell of a thing isn’t it, to go through someone’s life and untangle the mess after they’ve gone? I’m trying to get my own affairs in order now as well (just in case) to try to make things a little easier for those left behind after I go, but I can’t imagine it’s easy for anyone. There’s that strange sense of loss and grieving that one needs to have, which is marred by the practicalities of organising everything. I’m sure her loss will only really truly hit home, once the funeral has passed and again, you have my deepest sympathies and well wishes. Looks like you’re doing a great job and we’re here for you if you need anything, or just want to vent a little. Make sure to give yourself time and space to regroup and as much as you’ve assumed the role of carrying the weight of the world on your shoulders, you don’t need to and people will understand if you try delegating some of the responsibilities from time to time. Regarding the scam, hopefully they can’t access any more funds and it’s a lesson to all, but must be very stressful for sure. It’s like being burgled or mugged without the physical evidence. No one is immune – I fell for a scam myself years ago but fortunately used a credit card so was covered. But they’re crafty buggers I can tell you. The one I fell for preyed on the aftermath of 9-11. Now it’s Covid-19. Whenever there’s a catastrophe, there’s always someone to milk it. Anyway, take care my new friend and speak soon.