The FAA’s Wost Nightmare: 1 Million Drones Expected As Christmas Gifts This Year

The FAA's Wost Nightmare: 1 Million Drones Expected As Christmas Gifts This Year

A Parrot Bebop quadcopter drone flies at the Parrot stand at the 2015 IFA consumer electronics and appliances trade fair on Sept. 4, 2015 in Berlin, Germany
The FAA's worst nightmare is set to come true as a million UAVs are anticipated to be handed out as Christmas present this holiday season.
(Photo : Sean Gallup | Getty Images)

Hankering after a drone for Christmas this year? Guess what – so are a million others!

The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) is about to live its worst nightmare as a million drones are anticipated to be handed out as Christmas presents this holiday season.

With so many unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) likely to be on the loose, the estimation is undoubtedly concerning for the FAA.

The apprehensions are not unfounded as Rich Swayze, the FAA's administrator let on that most people who operate the drones in the airspace lack a piloting background. The sentiment is echoed by Mike Dunkerley, the CEO of Hawaiian Airlines.

"From an operating perspective, [small UAVs are] a very serious issue and there's considerable concern that it's going to end in tears. It's not just in and around airports where drones present a danger to the traveling public. There are many areas outside of 5 miles of an airport where a drone conflict could occur," opines Dunkerley.

Drones are easily accessible as the price of the UAVs can range from as little as $20 for the lower-end versions to $1,000 for the top-end ones. The lower priced drones are likely to be popular with holiday shoppers looking to fulfil wish lists.

While the FAA encourages drone operators to register the flight plans, this process is optional for those using the gadget as a hobby. As a result, several issues surrounding UAVs have occurred as the demand for drones grows among hobbyists.

In 2015, reports of approximately 700 close encounters between airplanes and drones were reported to the FAA. The UAVs have come under scrutiny for encroaching privacy as was illustrated by the incident of a drone spying on the filming of Game of Thrones. They have also been accused of bringing in drugs into jails, as well as interfering with wildfire fighting efforts in California.

As the incidents continue to rise, a debate over whether their use should be regulated continues to wage. Those in support of regulation such as Congressman Peter DeFazio call it an irresponsible use of toys and opine that they "should be set up so they can't be sold unless they're geo-fenced for altitude and perimeters."​

With drones being blamed for creating more nuisance than serving a utilitarian purpose, come Christmas, the FAA should brace itself for a UAV onslaught.