AOPA’s drone-flying members will have a leg up on the competition and new discounts to look forward to thanks to a new partnership with PrecisionHawk.
The partnership was announced July 27 at EAA AirVenture, the world’s largest aviation show, and matches the world’s largest aviation membership organization (AOPA) with the largest network of commercial drone pilots, Droners.io, a division of North Carolina-based PrecisionHawk.
“It’s another one of the value adds that we’re bringing to the membership,” Swain said. “We listened to what our membership was telling us, and one of the big concerns was networking and resources to help find work flying under Part 107.”
Thousands of new members have joined AOPA since the association began welcoming drone pilots in 2017. The FAA announced in July that more than 100,000 remote pilot certificates have been issued since Part 107 took effect in August 2016, and that list includes many pilots (and AOPA members) certificated under Part 61 as well as Part 107. Under the new PrecisionHawk partnership, AOPA will offer a one-time $25 discount on Drone Pilot Plus membership to any pilot registered with PrecisionHawk via Drones.io. This is AOPA’s top-tier drone membership option, normally $168 per year, and includes Pilot Protection Plus, which covers legal representation costs for matters pertaining to a remote pilot certificate.
“AOPA is a true pioneer in aviation advocacy and has cultivated a vibrant and diverse community of aviation enthusiasts that directly complements PrecisionHawk’s work with drone pilots,” said Irina Denisenko, vice president of the PrecisionHawk Drone Pilot Network, in a news release. “This partnership further demonstrates the value of industry collaboration to ensure that drone operators have access to quality job opportunities and are equipped with the tools and support they need to build their portfolio and grow their business while flying safely and efficiently.”
Renewing AOPA members who participate in the PrecisionHawk network will be eligible for a one-time $20 discount on the annual renewal of a Drone Pilot Plus membership. All AOPA drone members who are also among the 15,000 Droners.io pilots will enjoy preferred access to enterprise jobs (which are offered directly to selected and qualified Droners.io members, and not posted with the rest of the job listings), along with a discount on the standard commission charged to pilots by Droners.io—that rate will drop to 7 percent, compared to the standard 10 percent charged to non-AOPA remote pilots.
“That puts a few more dollars in our members’ pockets,” Swain said. “If you fly often, it can really add up.”
Swain said AOPA Drone Pilot Plus members will also be recognized with a special AOPA Pilot Protection badge on their Droners.io profile. All of these changes will become evident to members of the respective organizations in the weeks to come. Swain said AOPA and PrecisionHawk are now working on the infrastructure and logistics that will facilitate the discounts and incentives through the respective websites, and members can expect email notification as the discounts and other perks become available.
The PrecisionHawk partnership was announced during the AOPA Drone Social at EAA AirVenture in Oshkosh, Wisconsin, which drew more than 100 attendees (despite a rather interesting F-22 Raptor demonstration underway at the same time). PrecisionHawk sponsored the event, which has become one of AOPA’s staple offerings at the world’s largest airshow.
AOPA continues to work on expanding opportunities and advantages for pilots of all kinds, including those who fly unmanned aircraft. The association has introduced a number of safety training and education resources for remote pilots, and remains committed to supporting safe integration of unmanned aircraft through various initiatives including membership on the FAA Drone Advisory Committee. AOPA members are also eligible for discounts on training, equipment, and drone-related events.
Swain said the PrecisionHawk partnership is exclusive, meaning that no other aviation organization (manned or otherwise) will be able to offer similar incentives to members of PrecisionHawk’s pilot network. AOPA, in turn, will offer membership discounts exclusively to PrecisionHawk’s Droners.io pilots.