The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) released its Fiscal Years 2018-2038 Aerospace Forecast last week, indicating, among other things, that the FAA expects small model hobbyist unmanned aerial systems (UAS or drones) to more than double from 1.1 million in 2017 to 2.4 million by 2022, while the commercial drone fleet will grow from 110,604 in 2017 to 451,800 by 2022. This is a growth rate of over 16 percent over that five year period for hobbyist drones and a growth rate of over 32 percent for commercial drones. Additionally, it is important to note that this forecast is based on the assumption that the operating limitations for drones are the same as they are now; if the regulatory environment evolves and allows more flights beyond visual line of sight, over people and at night, the FAA predicts that the number of commercial drones in the National Airspace could be closer to 717,895 by 2022.
The report also indicates that the FAA expects the number of remote pilots to skyrocket from 73,673 in 2017 to 301,000 in 2022. This is about a 32 percent increase.