Using drones to bring in business

Steve Milan
Steve Milan

Steve Milan thinks drones are cool. And he suspects others would love to get their hands on the technology, too.

Milan, a founding partner of Charlotte-based Fuse Financial Partners, learned first-hand how to build one of the unmanned aircrafts for himself after his company signed a client in the drone business.

“The difficulties in obtaining reliable information were enormous – what technologies were right for my application, how to make the components work together, and how to comply with regulations,” Milan said by email recently.

“We all felt that thousands of other users were struggling with the same problems, and that we could get in a position to help them.”

He and his business partners created a course on using drones to be offered through the Small Business Center at Central Piedmont Community College.

“Understanding and Using Drones: Regulations, Equipment and Business Applications” kicks off August 18 at CPCC’s new Ballantyne Center. They hope to draw entrepreneurs considering using drones in their business or those looking to start a commercial drone business, Milan said. Course fee is $1,699.

Yes, students will get hands-on flying time, practicing with a small quadcopter.

“It’s probably not what you would need for operating your business, but everybody who tries to learn how to fly a drone crashes a lot,” says Milan, who is 62.

But before that final three-hour flight training, there’s ground school. An important part of that is helping participants navigate the still-evolving federal rules on drones for commercial use. Instructors include Fuse partners and Mike Ouimet of Aerial Captures in Concord.

Although small businesses in Charlotte and elsewhere use drones in fields such as real estate, wedding photography, security and agriculture, final government requirements on usage are still likely years away. In February, the Federal Aviation Administration proposed rules that commercial operators must meet in order to fly small drones, such as passing a knowledge test.

Milan says plans also are underway to present their course at Anne Arundel Community College in October.

Ultimately, the goal of Milan the instructional team is to have an established, two-part curriculum once Federal Aviation Administration rules are clear on commercial use of the unmanned aircrafts.

“We want to be in a position to be a certified flight school, when that day arrives.”