Whether used commercially for industrial inspections, aerial photography, border patrol, emergency deliveries and crop surveys or recreationally by millions, drones or unmanned aircraft systems (UAS) have the potential to become a multi-billion dollar business and deliver problem-solving technologies across numerous industries. However, more drones in the skies also raise a number of new safety concerns, ranging from collisions and crashes to cyber-attacks and terrorism. To ensure safe UAS operations, systematic registration of unmanned aircraft and robust education and training of operators is necessary, according to a new report from aviation insurer Allianz Global Corporate & Specialty (AGCS): Rise of the Drones: Managing the Unique Risks Associated with Unmanned Aircraft Systems.
“There have already been enough incidents and near-misses to date involving UAS to generate concern that the likelihood of collisions and other loss events will grow as numbers multiply,”
says James Van Meter, an Aviation Practice Leader at AGCS
. As drones are becoming smaller, cheaper and easier to use – and regulatory change, particularly in the US, lowers barriers to entry - growth prospects are surging: The US Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) forecasts that by the end of 2016 in the US over 600,000 UAS will be deployed for commercial use alone – three times the number of registered manned aircraft. In addition, 1.9 million UAS are expected to be in recreational use. Globally, the UAS market is forecast to reach 4.7 million units, or higher, by 2020 with the market for commercial application of UAS technology estimated to soar from $2bn to $127bn.