Forty eight percent of commercial drone platforms in the USA made by DJI.


If you are to judge success in the American RPA industry. The number of commercially licenced platforms each manufacturer has in service might be a guide. Colin Snow makes the valid point earlier in today’s news that forecasts are very often wrong so better to work with the known.

We have a Drone Spotters page, started to monitor where platforms were going and who were buying them after a fatal RPAS incident in 2012

Looking at the civil market several companies, most notably AeroVironment were issued N numbers for aircraft under the old COA system.

But for now lets not try and separate them out, lets take it as a whole. As I write there are 51 manufacturers and 380 N registered sUAS in America. This will be wrong the second I post this as platforms are being added daily.

Its a starting point.

The top 5 looks like this



Number Sold













Several military spec platforms being sold into the civil market pre date the 333 exemption, from the sandy war era. So several of the others are not 333 airframes.

If I do this exercise again in 12 months time I expect that to be more obvious.


The most popular platform from DJI is the Phantom 2 Vision + but the newer Inspire is only a couple of airframes behind so no doubt will become the 333 DJI airframe of choice. The Inspire has a 4K camera created especially for it by DJI and is the natural successor for the GoPro Phantom class owners that want to stick with DJI. Its a polished platform that can do just about everything most small business users would want to do.

JordiandSolo3DR see success with its X8 and I was very surprised to see two SOLO’s already granted N numbers. The Solo quadcopter has only just come to market. It is able to control a GoPro from it accompanying ground control station app but the main difference between it and the Phantom series is the accessories bay. Vertical cameras and other sensors already have a spot to be placed. Expect to see many more N Number SOLOs when next I do this.

One 3DR platform made me smile, N515NU a Bixler that belongs to NASA Langley!

3DR sells multirotors, aircraft and autonomous ground vehicles as well as autopilots to other manufacturers.


PrecisionHawk makes drones for agriculture. The airframe uses an autopilot from 3DR and is the wings and tail section from an Eflite Apprentice with bespoke fuselage.

Leptron has sold several helicopter systems to Police forces around the USA.

There are many many people resisting the 333 FAA stop gap route to legal operation. They believe its too difficult and things will be easier once the outcome of the small rule NPRM is known. It certainly is one way to play it but every day more 333 companies are licenced and getting the work.

Can your RPAS start up really wait at least two more years for the FAA?

It will be interesting to look again at who’s who in the zoo in six months time.