Dan Gettinger Arthur Holland Michel at the Center for the Study of the the Drone at Bard College have published an excellent analysis of FAA drone registration data the provides confirmation to some commonly held opinions as well as surprising insights. The analysis covers both hobbyist and non-hobbyist segments. It is a data driven report that identifies which drone are being used and where.
They note that their study, Drone Registrations: A Preliminary Analysis, is “based on the raw, unedited dataset published by the FAA, which may contain errors such as misspelled place names or duplicative reg- istrations.” Regardless, it is a must read for anyone with an active interest in the industry.”
The authors have identified the following key takeaways:
- As of October 31, 2017, there are 836,796 hobbyist users and 106,739 non-hobbyist drones registered with the Federal Aviation Administration.
- Non-hobbyist drone registrations have increased in 2017, while hobbyist user reg- istrations have slowed.
- States with low population densities are more likely to have high rates of non-hob- byist drone registrations.
- The 30 most common non-hobbyist drones account for 88 percent of all non-hobbyist registered systems.
- The most popular non-hobbyist drone is the DJI Phantom 4. Drones made by the China-based DJI account for at least 70 percent of all non-hobbyist drones.
- The data contains registrations from users in 123 countries.
There are numerous other interesting takeaways. For example, they write:
A more telling metric of how common non-hobbyist registered drones are in each state is the number of drones per capita. The ve states with the greatest number of non-hobbyist drones per capita are, in descending order, Alaska (71 drones per 100,000 residents), Idaho (71 per 100,000), North Dakota (64 per 100,000), Colorado (61 per 100,000), and Montana (59 per 100,000). Together, these states’ account for 5.4 percent of all drones, even though they only make up about three percent of the U.S. population.
Though the database does not represent every single drone user in the U.S. (by some estimates, over 5 million drones have been sold in the country in recent years), the registration database offers an unparalleled insight into the geographic spread of people who operate drones in the U.S. In particular, it lends itself to a number of possible conclusions around the non-hobbyist drone sector. For example, drones made by the China-based manufacturer DJI make up over three-quarters of non-hobbyist drone registrations. (emphasis ours).
Did you know that the five states with the most registered hobbyist users per capita are, in descending order, Hawaii, Alaska, Utah, Colorado, and Washington?
You can learn more and find the full text of the report here.