By Andrew Maximow, Chief Drone Officer. 

Every week I’m asked if Firmatek is hiring drone pilots.  After all, as CDO I should be building a nationwide network of drone pilots.  So, before I get roasted on social media for this blasphemy, I thought I would explain my reasoning.  The short answer to the question is no, we’re not hiring drone pilots. However, the right answer is, yes we are hiring, but with other skill-sets and experience as a top priority.  Part 107 is nice to have, but not required.  We can obtain that later.  Don’t get me wrong, all of our Field Technicians, Data Analysts, Drone Support team, Engineers, and Ops Managers are all Part 107 certified and have varying levels of UAV flight proficiency. I’m proud to say Firmatek has some of the best drone pilots I’ve ever seen.  So why don’t we hire drone pilots?

As a professional services company, Firmatek delivers insights that help our clients make better business decisions. We focus on demand rather than supply­, meaning we address client needs with solutions first and then build the supporting infrastructure. Providing key insights is our purpose. This is WHY we do things. Further, we believe that the ever-changing complex physical world has a dramatic impact on the operational success of our clients.  So delivering insights with confidence helps keep their world moving forward and drives the HOW and WHAT we do as a company.

As such, insights are much more than photos, videos, maps, or even data. Sure, we use drones to collect these things, but as trusted advisors we go much further.  Our clients look to our people for guidance and tap into their subject matter expertise.  We hire people who speak our clients’ language — mining, geology, construction, energy, and civil engineering.  Our team is expected to process, analyze, and advise based on their understanding of the client’s environment and unique challenges. Collecting data, whether with drones or other tools, is just the tip of the iceberg of WHAT we do.

Delivering insights in an ever-changing complex, physical world requires different skill-sets including, geospatial information systems (GIS), computer aided design (CAD), and data analytics.  We specialize in analyzing the world around us by building 3D models and performing quantitative analysis. In addition to relevant industry experience, Firmatek looks to college grads who have learned the latest GPS survey tools and techniques in their GIS course as part of their Geology program, as an example.  Some of these schools are even incorporating drones and the latest software used to process/analyze drone-based and geospatial data.  These are the skill-sets relevant to measuring and analyzing the ever-changing complex physical world around us.

The final reason is related to the rapid pace of innovation of drone technology.  Gone are the days of DIY, custom drones for autonomous mapping, and scanning.  The promise of sUAS (small Unmanned Aircraft Systems) is real. These tools are ready to be purchased, commercially off the shelf (COTS) products, complete with all the hardware and software needed to collect mapping data.  Most are fully autonomous, requiring minimal specialized piloting training, ideal for an end-user to fly and collect data wherever and as often as they like.  They practically fly themselves.  The technology continues to improve at a very rapid pace. With this in mind, most future drone product purchases (multi-rotor, fixed-wing, VTOL, or otherwise) at Firmatek will be inexpensive, reliable, COTS, RTK/PPK enabled, with easy to use flight planning software and sensors that capture data in an accurate and precise manner.

Having said all that, part of our purpose as trusted advisors at Firmatek is to stay on the forefront of technology testing, experimenting, and innovating. We will continue to do that in support of new use-cases and client’s needs.  I am very grateful for the ninja drone pilots with golden thumbs on our staff who make it look so easy.

Photos by Guinn Partners

Drone from BirdsEyeView Aerobotics