FAA Unveils Drone Stats, New Rulemaking Committee

During his opening remarks at this week’s UAS Symposium in Reston, Va., Michael Huerta, administrator of the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA), laid out some notable statistics on the unmanned aircraft systems (UAS) industry, as well as announced a new drone advisory committee.

“We’re ushering in a new age of American aviation: the unmanned aircraft era,” he said. “And it’s moving at a quicker pace than anything we’ve seen before.”

And here are the numbers: Since the FAA finalized its Part 107 rulemaking for commercial drone operations at the end of August, the agency has issued more than 37,000 remote pilot certificates thus far, said Huerta.

In addition, roughly 15 months after the agency’s UAS registration mandate took effect, the FAA has processed a whopping 770,000 registrations – “and counting,” according to the administrator.

As for the FAA’s drone safety efforts, its B4UFLY app has been downloaded 200,000 times, and its “No Drone Zone” campaign has “helped keep events safe” for several Super Bowls, as well as the presidential inauguration, Huerta added.

However, noting the security and safety challenges that still exist, Huerta announced the formation of a new aviation rulemaking committee that will help “create standards for remotely identifying and tracking unmanned aircraft during operations.” (Notably, earlier this week, DJI proposed its own method for the task.)

In response, the Small UAV Coalition is welcoming this Remote Identification Aviation Rulemaking Committee.

“The coalition and its members regularly participate in public-private partnerships with the FAA and other federal agencies and look forward to continuing to engage with all parties to expedite implementation of a forward-leaning regulatory framework that will embrace the vast economic and consumer benefits of this burgeoning technology in a safe and efficient manner,” the group says in a statement.

Huerta reinforced during his speech that the FAA is, indeed, looking to support further drone integration, as well as companies’ “new drone designs and capabilities.”

“And we don’t want bureaucratic red tape to hamper your progress,” he said. “On the contrary, we want to support it.”

“When we all work in good faith … when we all share the same safety goals … we can accomplish some truly impressive things.”

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