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Costs Associated with Introducing Drones to your Business


What you need to know COST-wise in order to introduce drones to your surveying toolkit!

Let’s assess the question on lots of survey businesses’ minds when asked about adding a drone to their toolkit… “What are the actual costs associated with it?”

Let’s be as transparent as possible so you don’t face any hidden costs!


First up you have to put a member of staff through a training course in order to be a qualified drone pilot. On this course we can assist with the appropriate drone to purchase, based on your business’ needs. We have a team of highly experienced pilots with relevant industry knowledge.

The best ‘future proof’ course we recommend is the General Visual Line of Sight course (GVC), because it allows you to fly any drone up to 25kg in weight within a congested area. There are other courses (A2 Certificate of Competence)but you are limited by the weight of the drones, and how close to uninvolved person you can fly, which can be rather restrictive for anyone using drones in a typical surveyors working environment.  So as you advance in the industry and get something that’s maybe more technologically advanced and heavier, you can still fly under this qualification. You can work in congested areas etc as you have been trained on the appropriate safety precautions. 

The CAA General Visual Line of Sight (GVC) Course is a 3 day course; a residential course that includes practical flying training, theory and a workshop on compiling your operations manual. So once you’ve done that course and passed your on site flight assessment that is you qualified to fly a drone. This costs approx £1195 plus VAT for the residential options which most people take.

If using something under 250 grams, you only need a flyer ID for the remote pilot of the drone (Free) and an Operator ID for the Company (£10.33 per annum). Take a look at our regulations blog which explains all of the types of qualifications in more detail.

Less Obvious Costs to Implement a drone:

Data Processing -A high end computer gaming type laptop (for processing your data into 3D point clouds etc) with the following:

  • Windows 10, 64 bits (Windows 11 is not supported yet).
  • Decent Processor such as intel i9
  • Hard disk: SSD.
  • Medium projects (between 100 and 500 images at 14 MP):
  • 16GB RAM, 30 GB SSD Free
  • Approx £2.500 for a laptop or £3500 for a desktop.

-Software for drone mapping: PIX4D which comes in at £260 per month or £3990 perpetual licence or DJI Terra Pro at £2600 plus VAT

-Commercial drone insurance, with public liability cover is a must! Approx £300 for a DJI Mavic 3 Enterprise with £1m Public Liability cover

-CAA Application: £290.00 with a renewal fee of £217 each year for your operations manual.

-A GPS Rover, from £812 plus VAT

-VRS License from £20 per hour or purchase an annual licence.

Purchasing the Correct Drone

At the Drone Pilot Store we have many drones available for you to purchase. We pride ourselves on providing continued support for customers, having recently started our online student and customer forum.

Let’s look at our most popular 3 drones at the moment:

DJI Mini 3 Flymore (approx £850 plus VAT includes battery spares pack and in-built screen on Remote Controller). Great for simple tasks without many regulatory restrictions.

DJI Mavic 3 RTK (£3485 plus VAT including RTK Module and Battery Spares Pack )

Go-to starting drone for surveyors.

DJI Matrice 350 (£9132 plus VAT with 2 batteries and Battery Charging Station)

Has changeable payloads so you can fix different sensors to it instead of having to have multiple drones. 

A popular attachment for photogrammetry is the DJI Zenmuse P1 which comes in at £4663 +VAT.

If you want to penetrate vegetation better then you are looking at investing in a LiDAR sensor. So the DJI entry level is the DJI Zenmuse L1 (£7633.33 +VAT) which has about 10 cm accuracy that might be good enough, depending on the work you’re doing. 

However, if you want more precision, then the price goes up, and you’re looking at investing in something like a YellowScan LiDAR sensor where the accuracy can come down below 5 cm. 

If you’re looking at a thermal sensor then the DJI H20T is approximately £8,500 plus VAT. You may not use something like this very often, so the benefit with the Drone Pilot Academy is that you can hire this (and the DJI L1 LiDAR Sensor) from us as and when you need it (fill out the contact us form on our website and we can chat about this).

For more information on introducing drones to your surveying business, you can access our free webinar recording below.

Or, to speak to one of our experts, book a consultation today. 

Watch our Webinar ‘Introducing Drones to you Survey Business’

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“Very good experience with the Drone Pilot Academy. As someone who had never operated a drone before, I was a bit apprehensive about piloting. However, the quality and experience of the instructors, especially Chris, were crucial in teaching the basics of flying a drone safely, which greatly boosted my confidence. The entire course was well organized and of high quality, showing great attention to the students. Jim and the team deserve congratulations for this.”

“Chris Wright the Head of Training is extremely knowledgeable and fluid in his teaching. He has the answer to every possible question and helped everyone pass the exams first time. Highly recommend.”

“Very easy comms with Jim to organise the DJI mini 4 drone training. He sent through a lot of info about what IDs and Apps are needed or recommended. Great place for the training, we had a great time and are much better prepared and confident as a result. No showing off with the drones, just a straightforward professional person. 5/5 👍”

“Myself and two colleagues attended the 3 day GVC training course to obtain our GVCs in 2023. All accommodation, food etc. was all included in the price which made for a very enjoyable experience. Chris and Richie are very knowledgeable, helpful and approachable. There were full days of teaching the required theory and practical flights, however on the last day we had adverse weather so couldn't complete the FA. A year went by and we still hadn't due to various work commitments etc.. but they were very understanding and accommodating of us and over a year later were happy to support, meet and ultimately guide us through in obtaining our GVCs. I can't rate these guys highly enough and would not hesitate in recommending them for any drone training you would want to undertake.”

“Highly Recommend! Top-Notch Training! I recently completed the residential A2CofC and GVC course with Drone Pilot Academy, and I can't recommend them enough! Pros: Immersive Learning: The residential format provided a focused learning environment, allowing me to fully grasp the course material. Expert Instruction: Chris our instructor was ex-RAF with a wealth of knowledge. His revision exercises in the classroom were invaluable for exam preparation. Convenient Exams: Taking both exams in the classroom after the course was a huge plus. It eliminated any time lag and was good to crack on an get the exams completed. Flight Assessment: There was plenty of time included for practical flight training and practice. I had my FA on the same day of the exams but there is no pressure to do that, it was convenient for me and I had enough flying hours to progress. Streamlined Process: Drone Pilot Academy took care of everything, making the entire experience smooth and hassle-free. Overall: This residential course was the perfect choice for me. It offered intensive training, expert guidance, and a convenient exam process. If you're looking to get your A2CofC and GVC in a supportive and immersive environment, Drone Pilot Academy is the way to go!”

“Thoroughly enjoyed the course, very professional, the instructor’s knowledge in this industry is second to none. Highly recommend”

“I found this course disappointing. Despite being in a group with six others from a different company, I received less flight time compared to them. The course structure felt disorganised, and the instructor appeared frustrated as I struggled to grasp the material.”

“From taking on their courses and their additional advice and support given in regards to setting up afterwards has all been very thorough and helpful. Such a great and professional team to know as they never fail in steering you in the right direction with whatever it may be you seek within the drone industry!”

“Totally recommend! Thanks Chris. Very patient and takes time to explain ! ( yes Totally recommend for that matter, I have already sent a friend of mine your way. He will contact you soon.)”

“From Mike Ghent. A joy to be trained by professionals. With a real passion for the subject matter and the skills to impart knowledge and confidence. A great training experience with continuous assistance and support through the course, assessment, and beyond. Many thanks”

“I need a GVC qualification to work on the UK's Polar research vessel in the Antarctic and Arctic. I was a little nervous about the subject matter of the course and my capacity to learn all of the info in just 3 days but Chris at DPA was simply excellent with his course plan and delivery/time management. It was a thoroughly enjoyable course and I would recommend, 10/10 training provider. Additionally if you are staying at the hotel the food/lunch is excellent.”

“Great instructors making a lot of hard info go in. Excellent company.”

“I deliberately chose a face-to-face training course for my GVC; for me there is massive value in having the ability to ask the tutor questions as they arise, and DPA organise things so that you can continue in the bar after the teaching has closed for the day. Hard work for an old man who has forgotten how to concentrate in a classroom, but ultimately successful. Chris Wright is very knowledgeable and experienced, a good teacher most generous with his time . Highly recommended.”

“I wanted to expand my understanding of Drone operations, so I booked a GVC with the Drone Pilot Academy. An excellent three day course, delivered with great instruction (patient and very knowledgeable) at a great venue. Course material was very good and post course support was excellent. If you are considering doing some Drone training then this is place I would recommend.”

“Excellent training and still giving me support and advice over a year after my course, including reviewing Op Manuals . I strongly recommend them!”

“I am really happy with the course and the instructors on the course, learned a lot, and have helped me achieve what I need to go further. Greatly appreciated.”

“Wanted to try a bit of a taster session flying drones and seeing the art of the possible. Jim was excellent, and provided lots of knowledge and guidance, completely made me feel comfortable with my first drone flight. Would highly recommend!”

“It has been a pleasure working with Drone Pilot Academy from the very first day. HVAC Communications was looking to introduce drones into the business and Jim from DPA spent time with us explaining what we would need to operate, demonstrated different drones and set everything up for us. The GVC course was delivered very professionally by Chris over three days with him going above an beyond to answer any questions put forward. The guys are very knowledgeable and their experience and previous RAF careers show through. The post course support has been great. We will definitely continue to use DPA in the future.”

“Completing a PFcO to GVC course in November 2023, with The Drone Pilot Academy, who I had also got my original PFcO drone licence with previously. 1 day course with James Ixer, who has a professional and friendly approach to his courses. I would recommend this company, for those considering getting into the Drone sector, for qualifications and training etc.”

“I attended the PfCO to GVC conversion course with Drone Pilot Academy last week and have to say how professionally it was put together. Jim is extremely knowledgeable and passionate, he gets the lesson across expertly and immediately putting you at ease. This is the second time I have gone to DPA for training and wouldn't consider going anywhere else. I can highly recommend them to anyone who has an interest in Drones. Thanks Jim and all at DPA”

“I was looking for a course to obtain my drone qualification to help with roof surveying and I was recommended to attended the 3 day course for the GVC and A2 CofC. On attendance the course was very educational by providing a full understanding of the requirements for drone flying. The material was easy to follow and any questions we had were promptly answered. There was a test on the third day which the whole class had passed. After the test we attended a field near by to practice flying a drone. After the class, the service was still present with help organising the flight test and the paperwork required to submit to the CAA. I would highly recommend attending a course via the Drone Pilot Academy if you require a qualification or are a beginner to drone flying. I will definitely be attending the infrared foundation course in the near future.”

“I have recently completed Drone Pilot Academy's A2 CofC and GVC courses along with several colleagues. A special shout out to Richie for sharing his experience, knowledge and skills, ensuring you're well-prepared for your journey into the skies. From understanding airspace regulations to mastering flight maneuvers, it's a fantastic experience. They've incorporated all the right elements for success. Highly recommend for all aspiring drone pilots!”

“I recently attended the GVC drone pilot course with Drone Pilot Academy. Thoroughly enjoyed the three day course. My instructor was extremely knowledgeable and passionate about the subject, would defiantly recommend to anyone who has interests in drones, whether commercially or just for fun.”

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