As many as one million drones could be sold during this year’s holiday season, FAA official Rich Swayze has told ATW Online.
Unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) have proven to be dangerous in the past — pilots have reported drones flying too close to their aircrafts, and some have even impeded firefighting efforts. Officials are understandably concerned about what a million drone sales will mean for the safety of both their operators and the public, and they want to inform people about the risks.
The FAA will send a representative to Walmart (WMT) to educate its salespeople about UAVs, and how to pass that information along to customers. This might not be all that helpful if people purchase them online. Walmart currently offers 19 drones on its website, the cheapest one going for just $19.99.
Mark Dunkerley, Hawaiian Airlines (HA) president and CEO, commented on the expected drone sales and imminent safety issues:
From an operating perspective, [small UAVs are] a very serious issue and there’s considerable concern that it’s going to end in tears … It’s not just in and around airports where drones present a danger to the traveling public. There are many areas outside of five miles of an airport where a drone conflict could occur.
It has been difficult for government agencies to implement regulations regarding UAVs because there are so many different aspects to attend to. Swayze mentioned that in the 15 years he has been working on policy in Washington, D.C., he has “never seen so many divergent interests driving one topic.”