FAA Administrator Michael Huerta says that the number of drones in the National Airspace has now eclipsed the number of piloted aircraft. Huerta reports that there have been more than 325,000 drone registrations, compared with 320,000 piloted aircraft registered. Huerta says the numbers indicate an even larger number of drones, as the average registered operator has 1.5 drones.
What Huerta does not seem to have mentioned is that according to holiday sales figures, nearly 1,000,000 drones were sold in the US; not including those drones purchased well before the holiday season. The apparently vast number of unregistered drones could skew the figures considerably, although USA Today reports that Huerta is calling the registration program a success: “We’re very encouraged by the registration numbers we’ve seen so far,” Huerta said. “Safety is at the heart of this new registration system. We need to bring the unmanned aircraft enthusiasts into the culture that has characterized aviation throughout its history – that is a culture of safety and a culture of responsibility.”
New drones are supposed to be registered before first flight, while drones purchased before the program announcement on December 21 must be registered by Feb. 19.
Huerta spoke this morning at an invitation-only event held at law firm K & L Gates titled “Aviation’s Next Frontier.” When asked to comment on the proposed AIRR Act, which seeks to privatize the air traffic control responsibilities of the FAA, Huerta reportedly declined to comment. The FAA has been under significant criticism for mismanagement and lack of progress after a number of damning reports from the Office of the Inspector General were published, lending fuel to the Republican-backed plan to privatize air traffic control.
Miriam McNabb is the Editor-in-Chief of DRONELIFE and CEO of JobForDrones, a professional drone services marketplace, and a fascinated observer of the emerging drone industry and the regulatory environment for drones. Miriam has a degree from the University of Chicago and over 20 years of experience in high tech sales and marketing for new technologies.
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