Administrator Michael Huerta reported over 770,000 drone registrations in the last 15 months by the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA). The fast-rising numbers were shared at the second annual Unmanned Aircraft Systems Symposium.
Drone pilots in the United States are projected to surpass the 3.5 million mark by the year 2021, up from 1.1 million registered by the end of 2016. Both figures already exceed the number of manned aircraft in the country.
The flying devices come in all shapes and sizes, and the FAA requires both hobbyists and commercial users to register them for security reasons. Concerns about the increasing number of drones flying in American skies are rising.
Over 5 million drones will soar U.S. skies by 2021
Recode pointed out the rise in drone pilot registrations is much more significant when we look at it from a short-term perspective. In just three months, around 100,000 new users registered their devices.
FAA Administrator Michael Huerta provided registration numbers back in early January, reporting on year-end’s closing numbers for 2016. The records showed 670,000 back then, and now they are above 770,000 according to the latest briefing.
The Administration made it mandatory for users to register their unmanned aircraft units back in late 2015. Regulations establish that hobbyist flyers need to register only once, no matter if they have just one or several drones.
Professional pilots that fly drones as their job or with commercial purposes need to register each unit separately which is why the number of units is higher than the number of pilots in the FAA’s records.
Keeping track of so many drones is problematic
There are a lot of questions that surface as a result of drone usage projections in the coming years. So many devices flying above our heads represent a safety concern, but the FAA does not have all the answers.
“HOW CAN WE MAKE SURE UNMANNED AIRCRAFT DON’T GAIN ACCESS TO SENSITIVE SITES? AND AFTER SEEING HOW DRONES CAN BE USED FOR ILL-INTENT OVERSEAS, HOW CAN WE ENSURE SIMILAR INCIDENTS WON’T HAPPEN HERE?” Huerta said.
Security is, of course, the top priority for the agency. In light of the recent wave of terror attacks around the globe, some might infer the Administration wishes to proceed with caution when it comes to issuing licenses for local drone users.
After that, there are more obvious concerns like unregistered units flying around or domestic incidents like drones falling on people’s heads without warning due to some sort of malfunction.