Drones keep flying higher in 2016.
One year after implementation, more than 616,000 owners and individual drones have been registered using the FAA’s web-based drone registration system.
“That means more than 600,000 drone operators now have the basic aviation knowledge to keep themselves and their friends and neighbors safe when they fly,” an FAA press release stated.
Commercial, public and other non-model aircraft operators were stuck using paper-based registration system until March 31 when the federal agency expanded the system to non-hobbyists. The federal agency opened the online system on Dec. 21 after creating a rule requiring owners of UAVs weighing more than .55 pounds to register their drones.
In addition, commercial and hobbyists drone registrations have more than tripled since January.
According to FAA stats, nearly 23,000 commercial drone pilots had been certified by Dec. 5. During the first meeting of the Drone Advisory Committee in September, Earl Lawrence, director of the FAA’s UAS Integration Office, said that around 2,000 drone registrations were flowing in daily.
The agency predicts more than 1.3 million drone pilots will be licensed by 2020. The process of drone certification took off with the unveiling of Part 107 rules which allow drone users – hobbyists and commercial pilots – to operate small, unmanned aircraft below 400 feet at a maximum speed of 100 mph during daylight hours.
Within the first two weeks, more than 5,000 drone users completed the required FAA Part 107 Aeronautical Knowledge Test with hundreds of businesses lining up for launch. Drone users may apply for specific waivers to Part 107 and several companies have done so in order to open new market applications.
However, the FAA has taken its share of criticism after the U.S. Department of Transportation Inspector General released a scathing report regarding the FAA’s oversight of commercial drones this past month.
As reported previously in DRONELIFE, the DOT report blasted the FAA’s streamlined “process of granting commercial licensing for drone operators too quickly. The report added the process resulted in “slipshod procedures that did not track operators effectively or even ensure that operators understood the requirements clearly.”