Although the new year has just started, 2015 could be the big year for unmanned aerial vehicles. In the first full week of the new year, mainstream media pointed out several tidbits of information worth sharing.

The Wall Street Journal included drones in its forecast of factors shaping the U.S. industry in 2015. The article mentions that the Federal Aviation Administration is due to release proposed rules in early 2015. In the meantime, the FAA is approving drones for commercial use on a case-by-case exemption basis. As of Jan. 6, the FAA has received 214 requests for exemptions from commercial entities.

Until final rules are adopted, pent up demand will continue to overshadow this market for both agriculture and other industries that are chomping at the bit to use them.

The FAA has approved about a dozen exemptions so far for drones in multiple industries. As of this week, the FAA granted an exemption to Advanced Aviation Solutions, which plans to use a fixed-wing eBee Ag UAS to make photographic measurements and perform crop scouting for precision agriculture. The FAA also jointly approved an exemption for use with a real estate company.

According to the FAA, “Both applicants also must obtain a Certificate of Waiver or Authorization (COA) that ensures the airspace for their proposed operations is safe, and that they have taken proper steps to see and avoid other aircraft. In addition, the COAs will mandate flight rules and timely reporting of any accident or incidents.

“Secretary of Transportation Anthony Foxx found that the UAS in the proposed operations do not need an FAA-issued certificate of airworthiness because they do not pose a threat to national airspace users or national security. Those findings are permitted under Section 333 of the FAA Modernization and Reform Act of 2012.”

Drones are here to stay, according to the U.S. Consumer Electronics Association (CEA). The group predicts that the global market for commercial drones is estimated to be worth $1 billion by 2018.

Speaking at the 2015 International Consumer Electronics Show (CES) in Las Vegas, CEA’s chief economist, Shawn DuBravac, said approximately 100 different types of drones could debut just this year, The Guardian reported. The question will be how strict the FAA will restrict commercial drone use in the U.S.  

View the FAA’s exemption grants

For more information on the FAA and UAS, vist our UAS website.