The Association for Unmanned Vehicle Systems International (AUVSI) has released an interactive analysis that finds 38 types of business operations have been approved by the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) to fly unmanned aircraft systems (UAS) commercially in the National Airspace System.
According to the report – which analyzed the first 3,136 commercial exemptions (through Jan. 16 of this year) – aerial photography received the most, followed by real estate and aerial inspection. The report also finds that exemptions have been approved in all 50 states and Puerto Rico.
“The UAS industry is poised to be one of the fastest-growing sectors in the U.S., and these numbers demonstrate that a wide variety of industries are eager to take advantage of this technology,” says Brian Wynne, president and CEO of AUVSI. “From inspecting our nation’s infrastructure to providing farmers with aerial views of their crops, the applications of UAS are virtually limitless. It’s no wonder businesses – small and large – are clamoring to use this technology.”
California received the most exemptions with 360, followed by Florida with 328 and Texas with 268.
The number of exemptions granted each month grew sharply from March 2015 to May 2015 – reaching a peak in October of that year at 419. Over 360 exemptions were granted in January 2016 alone, says AUVSI.
The report notes that most commercial UAS operators are small businesses. About 90% of the nearly 3,000 companies receiving exemptions make less than $1 million in annual revenue and have fewer than 10 employees.
In addition, according to AUVSI, about 65% of all platforms mentioned in the exemptions are manufactured by DJI Global, and rotary-wing platforms are used about six times more than fixed-wing platforms.
“While some businesses are flying, this current system of case-by-case approvals isn’t a long-term solution,” says Wynne. “For the full potential of the UAS commercial market to be realized in the U.S., the FAA needs to finalize its small UAS rule, without further delays.”
Click here for the full analysis.