The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) estimates the number of drones flying in US skies to nearly triple to seven million by the end of 2020. The FAA’s “Aerospace Forecast Report Fiscal Years 2016 to 2036” (PDF) predicts that drones “will be the most dynamic growth sector within aviation” in that timeframe.
The FAA says the number of hobbyist drones will climb from 1.9 million in 2016 to 4.3 million in 2020, while commercial drones are predicted to soar from 600,000 to 2.7 million. The report does say that predictions for commercial drones “are more difficult to develop given the dynamic, quickly-evolving nature of the market.”
An estimated 90 percent of the drone fleet in 2020 will cost an average of $2,500. The most expensive models may reach $40,000.
The FAA, of course, in December 2015 implemented mandatory registration on drones that weigh between 0.55 pounds and 55 pounds. Registration costs $5 and is valid for three years. Upon completion of the registration process, the web application generates a Certificate of Aircraft Registration/Proof of Ownership that includes a unique identification number for that must be marked on all of your drones.
Failure to register a drone can result in civil penalties up to $27,500, and criminal penalties for failure to register can include fines of up to $250,000. “This registration rule will aid in investigations and allow the FAA to gather data,” the agency said in its report.
A recent study from George Mason University found that an incident in which an airplane is damaged by a drone weighing 4.5 pounds should happen once every 1.87 million years of drone flight time.