FAA Drone Pilot Numbers Hit Milestone

The association recently issued its 1 millionth sUAS airspace authorization.

As of February 2022, about 860,983 drones have been registered by the FAA. [File Photo: Adobe Stock]

Check those NOTAMs carefully—drones may be nearby. 

The FAA issued its 1 millionth airspace authorization for a small unmanned aircraft systems (sUAS)—also known as drones—to use busy airspace. 

The authorizations are issued by the FAA's Low Altitude Authorization and Notification Capability (LAANC). LAANC is an automated process for drone pilots who need to quickly gain authorization for flying in controlled airspace. LAANC provides air traffic with information about the location of drone operations.

Drones, once the purview of hobbyists, are becoming increasingly popular in the industrial sector where they are used to inspect tall buildings, construction sites, reseeding forests and for the observation of animal migration. Law enforcement and the military also use drones for surveillance and search and rescue, as the drones can cover terrain much faster than a person on foot.

Drones By the Numbers

The FAA keeps track of drone restoration as well as the number of people who apply for and receive drone pilot certificates. As of the first week of February 2022:

  • 860,983 drones registered
    • 328,670 drones registered for commercial use
    • 528,725 drones registered for recreational use
    • 3,588 drones registered on paper 
  • 261,952 remote pilots certified
  • 187,644 completion certificates issued by test administrators
Meg Godlewski has been an aviation journalist for more than 24 years and a CFI for more than 20 years. If she is not flying or teaching aviation, she is writing about it. Meg is a founding member of the Pilot Proficiency Center at EAA AirVenture and excels at the application of simulation technology to flatten the learning curve. Follow Meg on Twitter @2Lewski.

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