Drone pilot numbers increase, Part 107 updates from the FAA

Drone pilot numbers increase, Part 107 updates from the FAA

In January the FAA gave us a total number of, 20488 active Part 107 Remote Pilots. By the beginning of April, that number had risen above 30k. The rise is not as rapid as some might have thought. Two data points are not enough though, the year’s tally will be revealing.

Patrick Egan quite rightly suggests that the size of the market is the sum of pilots so right now it stands at 32214.

Many people believe the slow rise can be attributed to a rush of Part 61 pilots adding a drone ticket to their licences at the start of the year. Others new to aviation are still studying.

Click on each state for their January and April numbers, the average number of pilots per state is 528, with California top of the pile with 3687 remote pilots.


One thing is for certain, training materials are arriving fast. There are several free resources, including notes from one of our favourite drone lawyers, Jonathan Rupprecht.

Aviation training stalwarts Kings Schools have a Part 107 course. I am not sure I agree with their assessment of the market!

The combination of low-cost and very high value is driving fast adoption of drones for many businesses. New uses for UAS aircraft include law enforcement, search and rescue, agriculture, oil and gas line surveillance, entertainment, videography, photography, real estate sales, and aerial surveying. Eventually, there will be many hundreds of uses.

This is becoming big business—FAST and will generate many new job opportunities.

One of these new, highly-paid jobs is being a UAS pilot. Just remember, there are requirements to legally operate a drone for commercial purposes. Even if you aren’t being paid to operate a drone if you are using the drone to support a business the FAA considers it a commercial operation.

Something in the Kings being all Part 107 that makes RPA in the USA seem more legit!

A publication that also underlines that UAV’s have arrived is the Aviation Supplies and Academics (ASA) Remote Pilot Test Prep.

I cannot think of a pilot shop anywhere in the world that I have visited that did not have an ASA book of some sort in it.

The industry is growing up, that’s a good thing.


Gary Mortimer

Founder and Editor of sUAS News | Gary Mortimer has been a commercial balloon pilot for 25 years and also flies full-size helicopters. Prior to that, he made tea and coffee in air traffic control towers across the UK as a member of the Royal Air Force.