A new report from The Washington Post’s Jason Horowitz shows how the rapid expansion of commercial drone operations, combined with the increasing availability of the devices, has pushed the number of people flying drones to new levels.
Horowitz and two others, Sarah Segal and James Haines, reviewed data from FAA-approved flights and drone flights that occurred from January 2014 to December 2017 and found that from January to December, more than 930,000 people flew unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) within 50 miles of their bases.
The number of flights, however, fell off as drone flights grew more frequent and were more widely used by UAV pilots.
The Post’s analysis also shows that, even as drones have become increasingly common in commercial aircraft, their usage has actually been declining in recent years, with drone use up a mere 1 percent from December 2015 to December 2016, compared to a 6 percent increase in drone use from 2015 to 2016.
According to the FAA, drones currently can be operated from anywhere in the country without being subject to any kind of FAA oversight.
The FAA also noted that the number and range of drones in use has increased dramatically over the past decade, and the number in the United States is expected to increase even more over the next decade.
The drone industry has been a big contributor to the explosion in drone flights, with many drone manufacturers relying on the government’s approval for their products, even if those products are only for small, private use.
Some of the biggest drone makers, such as DJI, which makes drones for commercial use, have been criticized for having a heavy-handed regulatory approach to drone safety, despite having an extensive drone-safety history.
Many of the most common concerns raised about drone safety have focused on how much more sophisticated drones are compared to those of the past.
The report found that, from January 2015 to June 2017, drone flights near military installations increased by more than 5,000 percent.
That was the largest increase in aerial drone use on the entire calendar year.
As a result, the report found, “there are now more than 2,200 drones on active military installations.”