FAA predicts significant growth in commercial drone use

May 19, 2019

The Federal Aviation Administration projects the number of commercial drones—or unmanned aircraft systems—in the skies could triple by 2023, according to www.constructiondive.com.

The non-commercial, or model, drone market seems to be slowing. The FAA registered more than 900,000 owners and about 1.25 million model drones by the end of 2018, but the market only is projected to grow to 1.39 million units by 2023.

The FAA says drones have led to "operational challenges" integrating the vehicles and pilots into existing airspace.

Companies are starting to explore further the potential use of drones for business purposes, such as package delivery and medical services. In 2018, the FAA chose 10 cities for its UAS Integration Pilot Program, giving governments the chance to test real-world drone applications and see how they would affect airspace.

The FAA has been trying to address potential airspace issues involved with increased drone use. In 2015, the agency required owners to register their drones online to better track their use. Although registration grew more slowly in 2018, at the current rate, the number of commercial drones by the end of this year is projected to surpass last year's projections for the year 2022.

With the commercial drone market set to continue growing, more governments likely will start to address new applications and permitting issues.