If your guess is over a million you hit the jackpot. That’s right, industry estimates are that in excess of 1 million drones will find themselves under Christmas trees with batteries and ready to fly. So, how many of those drones will have been registered under the FAA’s mandate? A very small fraction at best. And how many of those “drone pilots” are ready to safely solo? A smaller fraction at best.
If you’ve been following the news on drones you already know that the FAA mandate is that any UAS (Unmanned Aircraft System) aka a drone, weighing over 250 grams – approximately .55 pounds – must now be registered with the FAA. Slight glitch. The FAA Drone Registration site crashed on its first day of going live. Although the site is allegedly up and running again registration is expected to include only a very small percentage of flying drones.
To actually pilot a drone there’s also an age requirement. If you have a drone and you’re older than 13 years of age you’re good to go. If you’re under 13 you must find someone at least 13 years old to register your drone. To say the least, it’ll be interesting to see how well the nation’s 13 year olds teach one another to navigate the highways in the skies.
As you might suspect, the “near misses” between drones and airplanes or helicopters has continued to increase at an alarming rate. Safety concerns have led many to believe that “non-commercial” drone flights should have a safety switch that shuts down the propulsion at a designated altitude or distance from the operator. Does that make it safe? Maybe. But of course that depends on where the operator of the UAS is located at the time of launch.
Obviously the safety factors surrounding drone operation is a hot topic, to say the least.
But one thing is for sure. With a million new drones estimated to be under the Christmas trees, we’re about to find out in a hurry.
Written by Patrick Bailey at Bailey & Partners