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Number of Drones and Part 107 Pilots


Jan 9, 2018
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Massachusetts, USA
A few days ago, I posted the following information about the number of Part 107 pilots:

As of September 6, 2017, FAA's Michael Huerta reported the number of Part 107 pilots to be 60,000. Avionics article HERE.

LAANC can't get here soon enough! However, there will be only 49 Beta airports in 2018 and none of them in my area. :mad:

An update to drone registrations was given to us at CES this month by Elaine Chao, Secretary of Transportation. Her statistics are based on the two types of drone registrations: Part 101 versus Part 107. The FAA has logged more than 1,000,000 drone registrations in total: 878,000 under Part 101 and 122,000 under Part 107. Of course, I think it is probably safe to say that there may be many more Part 101 drones that are not registered.

Since she cites 122,000 commercial, public and other drones (excluding Part 101), it may be hard to separate-out the number of Part 107 drones from the "public and other drones". Additionally, registrations (not licenses) make it particularly difficult to estimate the number of Part 107 pilots since multiple drones may be registered to one Part 107 pilot (under 91.203(a)(2)).

However, let's make some broad assumptions. According to Michael Huerta in Avionics magazine:
  1. In September, approximately 80,000 commercial and public drones had been registered;
  2. At that time, there were approximately 60,000 Part 107 pilots.
So the ratio between the number of commercial and public drone registrations to Part 107 pilots was 4:3. Now, with the new January number of commercial and public (and other) drone registrations at 122,000 and the application of the same ratio (4:3), that would mean a January estimate of approximately 91,500 Part 107 pilots.

Of course, this is just an estimate. I have not found a good tool to use with the FAA certification database to determine the number of Part 107 pilots based on counting certifications. The current tool (AFAIK) does not allow wildcarding of names (the name is a required field), though it does allow you to pick country/state.

At this rate (extrapolating the above numbers),
by September of 2018 there may be upwards of 154,500 Part 107 pilots! This assumes a linear growth, of course.

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I have (5) Commercial UAS registered and approximately (15) hobby but all hobby are under 1 registration #.

If this helps (or not) the formulation. . .
Yup. That’s why trying to find the number of pilots from registration numbers is so difficult! What would it take to change the front end of the FAA’s registration database tool to accept a wildcard (“*”) for the name field???
I have 2 commercial both separate registration numbers that stretch from the nose to the tail and 1 recreational under one separate number with the understanding that I can use that number for as many recreational aircraft as I want.
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I think these numbers do not accurately represent the number of hobbyist registrations. The fact is, the majority of hobbyists do not register as they simply do not care or have been confused beyond words with the FAA's bouncehouse registration policies.
Example - I polled 10 local casual UAS hobbyists. 2 of them had registered under the first, original registration. Most of the others were like, "yeah, whatever." I think this more accurately represents actual numbers.
I agree with the shortcomings of inferring the number of Part 107 pilots from Part 107 registrations; a number of Part 107 pilots have >1 sUAS. However, my estimate was made based on the 107 registrations to pilots (80,000/60,000) data from September 2017 where there was a 4:3 ratio of registrations to pilots. Assuming that the same ratio exits in a linear fashion, the Part 107 registration only numbers released in January (122,000) may reflect about 91,500 Part 107 pilots by that same month; far less that the actual number of Part 107 registrations!

It will be interesting to see if the 4:3 ratio holds up the next time a Part 107 registrations to pilots number shows up.
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