average drone flights per month

Do you fly drones more or less than the average person? Here’s how to find out

If you’re out flying drones every day — or at least a couple times a week — then, congrats! You’re above average. That’s because, when it comes to the average number of drone flights per month, drones are actually spending most of their days on the ground.

The Federal Aviation Administration conducted a survey between Sept. and Oct. 2019 of people registered as recreational sUAS operators under Section 349 about their flight behavior and activities.

The FAA asked pilots how many drone flights per month they complete. Respondents reported that, on average, they fly approximately seven flights per month (well, 7.1, to be exact).

average drone flights per month FAA
Data and chart courtesy of the FAA

But the mean (which the FAA reported) is a bit of a funky number, as there are a huge chunk of pilots who fly far beyond the mean of 7.1 flights. Some pilots reported flying as many as 300 flights per month — which would be about 10 flights per day.

Most respondents said they actually only fly one flight per month.

And keep in mind that despite being an “average,” this data likely skews even higher than the true average of how many flights per month every drone out there actually flies. The FAA only offered this survey to registered pilots. There are likely many more unregistered pilots out there, but they’re also more likely to be the casual consumers who bought a drone only to fly a couple times on a vacation or for an event, and didn’t bother to register it, to boot. And even of the registered pilots, the survey was totally voluntary. People who registered but ignore their drone more often than not probably also ignoring answering a government survey. We’re willing to bet the average drone flights per month is far fewer than even 7.1.

The FAA’s data looked at flights that were about 30 minutes or less. That’s about the battery life of most drones (the DJI Mavic 2 Pro maxes out at 31 minutes). So pilots working on an all-day flight project who need to take off and land to swap out batteries would count each battery swap as a different flight.

average drone flight time duration of flight length FAA data
Data and chart courtesy of the FAA

And most pilots aren’t maxing out that full flight time. The FAA also asked pilots how long their drone flights lasted. Their survey found recreational respondents tend to fly about 16 minutes per flight.

Though, some industrial drones can fly far longer than that. DJI says its Matrice 300 has a flight time of 55 minutes. That’s well beyond the Matrice 200’s 38-minute battery life, and more than double the 27-minute life found on the prosumer Inspire 2.

How often do you fly your drone per month? Leave a comment below!

6 Comments

  • Gary Burdick says:

    Hi Sally,
    I am, at this point a recreational pilot. I fly usually 2 times a week with 2 batteries of 15 minutes each. So, about a 1 hour total for the week.

    Really enjoying your site and the valuable context you always offer us. Great Work!

    Take Care and Be Safe,
    Gary Burdick

  • Gerald B. Lee says:

    Hello Sally. I’m a big fan of your newsletter. I live in the Houston Metro area and work with Eagleview Onsite Solutions thru DroneUp. We had major storms in April of this year that did significant damage to home in the area. From about May thru July, I was averaging 2-3 roof inspections per day. Of course, things tapered off until Hurricane Laura. Did about six inspections over a Friday-Sunday. Its quiet now, averaging 2 personal deploys per month. I cant go too long without flying; I feel like i loose proficiency. Plus you have to keep the birds updated!

    Thanks again. Gerald Lee-Intelligent Stardust LLC.

    • Sally French says:

      Totally agree…it’s like riding a bike. It feels awkward if you go too long without having done it in a while!

  • I just figured up my flight statistics. I know I fly a lot and have been blessed with a good amount of business since starting. In the past 3 1/2 years I have logged 1009 flights for a total of 276.6 hours of actual flying time. This translates to an average of 23 flights per month at an average flight time of 16.5 minutes or 6 1/2 hours of flight time every month. As I tell people who I teach and discuss drone industry information with, the majority of time is spent selling, phone callos, emails, presentations, cold calling etc… and follow up administration, editing, and organizing my work. Makes me feel good to know I am doing quite well. But still so much more to do. Now is the time for me to start scaling up my business with the support of other experts who can help me deliver top notch solutions.

    • Sally French says:

      These calculations are brilliant! Thanks for putting the work into doing these. That’s a lot of flights! And also a great point…most of the work of being a “drone pilot” is sending emails and making phone calls. 😉

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