By 2036, unmanned aerial systems (UAS or drones) will represent a $30 billion industry according to a new report released by the Aerospace Industries Association (AIA) and Avascent, “Think Bigger: Large Unmanned Systems and the Next Major Shift in Aviation.” Specifically, the report says that cargo and passenger service will represent a very large portion of that $30 billion UAS industry, and support about 60,000 jobs in research, manufacturing and service. Overall, these larger UAS are expected to drive over $150 billion in total spending.
However, the biggest barrier to this growth is the regulatory framework. AIA President and CEO, Eric Fanning said, “Global competitors are working to seize the market from the United States, the country that invented this technology. We must start now on certification standards, exports, and spectrum to ensure the opportunities stay American.”
Many industry leaders recommend that the United States codify legislation needed for detect-and-avoid operations, autonomous certification, and spectrum allocation; international harmonization of regulations and performance-based consensus standards; and modifications of civilian UAS-related export and trade restrictions so that the United States can stay on top of the market.