Drone Popularity Draws Concern From Pilots, Federal Officials

PHOTO: A drone is flown for recreational purposes in the sky above Old Bethpage, N.Y. on Sept. 5, 2015.PlayBruce Bennett/Getty Images
WATCH FAA Raises Flags as Drone Demand Increases

Roughly 700,000 drones are expected to be sold in the United States this year, according to the Consumer Electronics Association.

The figure marks a 63 percent increase over last year’s total, but comes with added concerns about safety. The popularity of drones worries both pilots and government officials.

“All aviators are worried about hitting anything in the air. That's basically what we always worry about,” said Brian Wynne, president and CEO of the Association of Unmanned Vehicle Systems International.

The Federal Aviation Administration plans to meet with Walmart, which has 19 different kinds of drones for sale on its website, to teach salespeople about what it should tell its customers about safe drone operation.

Walmart did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Pilots report seeing drones in airspace reserved for aircraft several times each day.

The Consumer Electronics Association projects the U.S. drone market to climb above $100 million in revenue this year, an increase of more than 50 percent from last year’s total. The organization predicts there will be more than 1 million drone flights every day by 2025.