Unmanned Aircraft Systems (UAS) also known as Drones, Remotely piloted Vehicles (RPV), Models and Radio Control (R/C) aircraft are airborne unmanned vehicles which are used in wide range of applications worldwide. Initially constrained for military sector, in the past 2 decades these systems are gaining importance across industries due to cost effectiveness offered by these systems.
The potential applications of these systems is into rapid expansion leading to broad range of activities such as aerial photography, communication & broadcast, surveying land & crops, monitoring environmental conditions as well as forest fires and so on.
However, government regulations are one such factor constraining the growth of UAS systems. In certain countries such as Canada, China, Japan, France; the government is quite liberal regarding the use of drones in public space. On contrary, in countries such as U.S., U.K.; operation of drones in public space is restricted.
Until recently operation of commercial drones was banned by the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) in the U.S. From mid-2014, FAA started permitting businesses and organizations to incorporate UAS into their businesses. At the start of 2015, a number of companies were granted exemptions by FAA to fly UAS. However, businesses are permitted to operate UAS systems under stringent regulations.
FAA granted nearly 2672 exemptions till 22nd Dec 2015 of which majority of the exemptions we granted for small businesses. Of the total number of exemptions, majority of the exemptions was granted for the use of Rotary Winged UAS across business segments (nearly 70% of overall market). Majority of the exemptions were granted for real estate segment followed by general aerial survey, agriculture and construction sectors.
Integration of UAS systems into commercial space is in-turn beneficial for the FAA as these systems are effective for missions that are dangerous for manned aircrafts to perform; these systems are relatively low cost; they present opportunity for a growing U.S. based industry by aiding job as well as growth opportunity. Also, the United States is the global leader in the aerospace industry, hence incorporating these systems into public space would enhance their leadership position.