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    In this January 13, 2013 photo provided by DJI North America is the Phantom drone. The $700 Phantom, made by Chinese company DJI, is at the forefront of bringing drone technology to the masses.

    Popularity of Drones as Christmas Presents Scares FAA

    © AP Photo / DJI North America
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    The Federal Aviation Administration, together with drone industry groups, launched a safety initiative aimed at unmanned aerial systems, as drones have become one of the most popular gifts this Christmas.

    MOSCOW, December 25 (Sputnik) — Once known only as huge, multimillion-dollar military weapons, drones have now become 21st-century popular toys, some of which cost as little as $20, reports Washington Times.

    In this January 13, 2013 photo provided by DJI North America is the Phantom drone. The $700 Phantom, made by Chinese company DJI, is at the forefront of bringing drone technology to the masses.
    © AP Photo / DJI North America
    The Federal Aviation Administration, together with drone industry groups, has launched a safety initiative intended for unmanned aerial systems, as drones have become one of the most popular gifts this season, according to companies such as Amazon and Best Buy.

    The low cost and comparatively easy operation makes drones alluring presents for tech junkies, teenagers and others.

    “Over the next five days or so, you’re going to have tens of thousands of 10-year-old to 90-year-old people that are going to have this capability, being exposed to it. And we want to make sure they understand how to use it in a safe and responsible way,” said Michael Toscano, president and CEO of the Association for Unmanned Vehicle Systems International, the drone industry’s largest trade group.

    The safety initiative was launched on the website KnowBeforeYouFly.com, which contains information on federal regulations and safety guidelines for operating the craft.

    According to FAA guidelines, for example, flying a drone higher than 400 feet or within 5 miles of an airport is prohibited. The campaign wants drone manufacturers to provide safety information and details on FAA regulations along with the products.

    “There are rogue actors out there, or there are some not aware of existing laws and rules, so a campaign like this is absolutely crucial,” said Michael Drobac, executive director of the Small UAV Coalition, a drone advocacy group told The Washington Times.

    An unmanned US Predator drone
    © AP Photo / Kirsty Wigglesworth, File
    Demand has moved “pretty dramatically out of being a pretty niche field into more of a consumer electronics field,” Michael Perry, spokesman for drone manufacturer DJI, told AP.

    Globally, drone spending is anticipated to double over the next decade from $6.4 billion annually to $11.5 billion each year, according to research firm the Teal Group.  

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    Tags:
    weapons, drones, Amazon, U.S. Federal Aviation Authority (FAA), United States
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