FAA Certifies 17,000 Drone Pilots with a 91% Pass Rate

SHAKOPEE, MN, February 1, 2017 – Gowdy Brothers Aerospace, LLC who closely tracks and monitors the FAA Remote Pilot knowledge test numbers, estimate that 17,000 UAS Drone operators will have passed the FAA Remote Pilot knowledge test by the first week in February 2017.

According to the FAA UAS Integration Office, over 16,700 UAS Drone Operators have already passed the Part 107 Remote Pilot Knowledge test with a UAS rating this January with a 91% passing rate.

Stephen Gowdy, Chief Pilot of Gowdy Brothers Aerospace, LLC believes the high passing rates are largely due to many of the existing non-current part 61 pilots taking the Part 107 test.

Gowdy states, “The high passing rates are a little misleading.  Due to the number of existing certified private pilots, the passing rates appear skewed a little higher. We have not seen anyone without studying and without previous private pilot experience pass the test.”

The Remote Pilot test is comprised of 5 broad topics and 60 randomly selected questions from a bank of 536 test questions:

  1. UAS Regulations
  2. Airspace & Requirements
  3. Weather
  4. Loading & Performance
  5. Operations

With 1.2 million drones given at Christmas and more than 2.8 million purchased in 2016, it is now widely estimated somewhere between 22% to 30% will be used for commercial purposes.

The results: 750,000 new UAS operators will need to get a Remote Pilot Certificate this year. UAS operators will need to get started studying now and get their Part 107 Remote Pilot testing completed now before the rush on the limited testing FAA centers.  Some FAA testing centers are so busy they are scheduling tests out 45 to 60 days out.

Gowdy Brothers Aerospace, a Part 107 Education company has developed both an online self-study learning center and a live online interactive workshop where students can attend a traditional class taught by an experienced and certified instructors via a webinar. This Gowdy Brother’s interactive workshop is especially successful since students can ask questions as they go.

Upon successful completion of the workshop guarantees the student will pass on their first attempt.


About Gowdy Brothers Aerospace

Gowdy Brothers Aerospace, LLC ( is the Premier Provider of UAS educational resources to FAA Remote Pilots.

Please contact about Gowdy Brothers’ Part 107 Learning Center, Interactive Workshops and Waiver-able activities.

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Gowdy Brothers Aerospace, LLC on Fox 9 News on Part 107 Changes










Gowdy Brothers Aerospace was interviewed as a subject matter expert by Fox 9 News regarding the latest updates on Part 107’s Release. Check it out here!

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Which Drone is for You?

If you are unsure about which UAS to purchase, take a look at Embry- Riddle’s consumer guide. It details many entry-level UAS to compare in a comprehensive list.

thumbnail of ERAU sUAS Consumer Guide



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Colleges and Universities Read the Fine Print

Many Colleges and Universities with an UAS education program have been calling us and telling us that they no longer need the Section 333 any more because they were “Good to fly Drones”, based upon the FAA Administrators comments at the AUVSI trade show in New Orleans earlier this month.
Acting as Chief Pilot for Gowdy Brothers Aerospace, LLC, I was at the event and heard the FAA administrator, Michael Huerta, in person. Based upon the announcement it really did sound like the College and Universities were given a “free pass” on the Section 333 exemption requirements. But after reading the “Education Use of Unmanned Aircraft Systems” by Reginald Govan, Chief Counsel, FAA, dated May 4, 2016, it is clear that Colleges and Universities will need to read the fine print.
The Memorandum states and clarifies students operating the UAS for hobby and recreation use only according to part 336 is permissible as long as direct or indirect compensation is not given.  Secondly this new interpretation gives students the rights to conduct UAS activity in accordance to Section 336 in furtherance of the students aviation related education at an accredited educational institution.
The Memorandum states that facility members teaching at aviation related courses at an accredited educational institutions may assist students who are operating the UAS, the facility member is not intended to be the direct operator of the controls, but is secondary and only there to take change and immediately land in case of loss of control (Sorry … No demonstration flights by the Professor).
The FAA restates the four ways UAS flights are permitted:
(1) Under Part 336 operating as a hobby or recreation with no economic benefit;
(2) as a Public Aircraft owned by the Public entity and operating under a Certificate of Authorization/Wavier (COA);
(3) Under a UAS Aircraft Certification Type Rating with a COA (costs the Mfgr over $2 million per Model);
(4) Under the Section 333 exemption grant process and a COA.
Today, if a professor wants to fly an UAV/UAS/Drone during a college or university class as a demonstration or as part of the course curriculum the professor would need to: (1) operate under a Section 333 exemption grant or (2) use one of the very, very few drones that have received a UAS Aircraft Certification Type Rating with a COA; (3) be certified as a Public entity and own or lease their own public drones and apply for and receive a Public COA.
 Bottom line: Students are given a pass to fly drones as hobbyists for their own educational activities as long as the student does not gets paid, professors can help land the drone in case of a problem, but are still under the old rules.
To see a copy of the FAA Memorandum please go HERE

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Drone Privacy Practices Adopted by Stakeholder Group

Consensus was reached in a proceeding of the National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA) of the U.S. Department of Commerce on a set of privacy practices for the commercial and recreational use of unmanned aerial systems (UAS), more commonly referred to as “drones.”

This agreement, reached on May 18, 2016, successfully concludes a process initiated by President Obama on February 15, 2015, when he called on NTIA to convene a multistake holder process to develop and communicate best practices in order to “promote the responsible use of this technology in a way that does not diminish rights and freedoms.”

In the resulting process, dozens of representatives of diverse industry sectors, civil society and academia formally met a half dozen times under the auspices of the NTIA.

The final best practices were drafted and supported by a combination of civil society groups:

  • Center for Democracy & Technology
  • New America’s Open Technology Institute
  • Future of Privacy Forum
  • Online Trust Alliance
  • NetChoice

and industry participants with diverse interests in the use, manufacture and/or sale of UAV technology:

  • Amazon
  • X—formerly known as Google X
  • CTIA, Consumer Technology Association
  • Small UAV Coalition
  • Association for Unmanned Vehicle Systems International
  • Software & Information Industry Association
  • PrecisionHawk

as well as media groups:

  • News Media Coalition
  • Newspaper Association of America
  • National Association of Broadcasters
  • Radio Television Digital News Association
  • Digital Content Next


The best practices, which apply to both business and private use of drones, are voluntary and do not supplant any applicable federal or state law.  They nonetheless provide guidelines that may be helpful to businesses and hobbyists as they seek to use drones in a privacy-protective manner.

Highlights of the consensus best practices below.

Highlights of Consensus Best Practices

What’s Covered.  The best practices apply to the collection, use or disclosure of data that identifies a particular person and will likely be linked to a person’s name or other personally identifiable information.  Blurring a photograph or otherwise de-identifying data takes it outside the scope of the best practices.

Notice.  As a general matter, businesses should offer a privacy policy if they anticipate collecting personal information.

Reasonable Expectation of Privacy.  When individuals have a reasonable expectation of privacy, drone operators should not purposefully collect personal information unless they have permission or a compelling reason to do so.  In addition, drone operators should avoid the persistent and continuous collection of personal information without permission or a compelling reason.

Minimize Flights Over Private Property.  Drone operators should make a reasonable effort to minimize flying over or within private property without permission or legal authority, unless it would impede the purpose of the drone operation or conflict with FAA guidelines.

Timely Deletion or De-Identification of Personal Information.  Drone operators should generally delete or de-identify personal information no longer needed for the purposes explained in their privacy policy, unless they have permission to keep it longer or if there are exceptional circumstances.

Limits on Public Disclosure.  Operators should avoid knowingly making personal information public, except with consent or if necessary to fulfill the purpose for which the drone is used.

Specific Use Limits.  Operators should not use personal information for employment eligibility, promotion or retention; credit eligibility; or healthcare treatment eligibility other than when expressly permitted by and subject to the requirements of a sector-specific regulatory framework or with permission.

Security.  Drone operators should take reasonable measures to secure personal information collected via UAS.

Next Steps for Drone Privacy Concerns

The privacy best practices emerged from the NTIA process as many businesses eagerly await the FAA’s final rule for the widespread commercial use of drones, which the FAA has made clear will not address privacy issues.

In addition, the FTC has announced a public workshop on October 13, 2016 to address drone privacy issues.

For questions on the best practices produced through the NTIA’s multistakeholder process, please contact Gowdy Brothers Aerospace Consultants.

Source: PerkinsCoie:


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Top 5 “Need to Know” sUAV Facts!

 This is a “need to know” list of SUAV facts composed by Gowdy Brothers Aerospace created to help you comply with the FAA’s regulations, keep you updated on the latest SUAV news, and to guide you through the next steps into the upcoming changing requirements.

1. Night Flight

Unfortunately, night flight is not presently allowed.  All drone operation, both commercial and hobbyist, must occur in daylight hours under clear meteorological operating conditions.  This is specifically stated in FAA’s Article 15 of a granted 333’s Conditions & Limitations. Moreover, flights with drones under Special Visual Flight Rules (SVFR) are not permitted.

The definition of “night” can be found in Title 14 Code of Federal Regulations (14 CFR) Part 1, stating, “night means the time between the end of evening civil twilight and the beginning of morning civil twilight, as published in the American Air Almanac, converted to local time.”

2. Operating a Drone from a Moving Vehicle

Gowdy Brothers Aerospace regulatory consultants have had many conversations with the FAA about the legality of operating a drone from a vehicle as a means to maintain the requirement for visual line of sight (VLOS), while enabling the pilot in control (PIC) and his/her visual observer (VO) to cover larger distances.

This would enable a much more efficient and cost-effective alternative to more traditional manned aircraft inspection, especially for applications to inspect linear infrastructure like power lines or oil pipelines.

Unfortunately, the FAA currently forbids this activity.  The FAA’s Article 25 of a granted 333’s Conditions & Limitations is explicitly clear  “The UAS may not be operated by the PIC from any moving device for vehicle.”  No operation from a moving vehicle is permitted.

3.Current Drone Pilot License Requirements

Before getting into the particulars, it is noteworthy that “a pilot’s certificate is required for operation, but not required to apply for – and be granted – a 333 Exemption.”  So having a 333 Exemption does not necessarily allow you to operate a drone.

On the other hand, holding a FAA issued pilot’s license does not allow you to fly a drone for commercial purposes either.

These are not mutually exclusive – both are needed. A pilot’s license is required to operate a drone for commercial purposes.

According to the FAA’s Article 13 of a granted 333’s Conditions & Limitations“Under this grant of exemption, a PIC [Pilot in Command] must hold either an airline transport, commercial, private, recreational, or sport pilot certificate… The PIC must also meet the flight review requirements specified in 14 CFR § 61.56 in an aircraft in which the PIC is rated on his or her pilot certificate.”

All commercially operated drones must be operated by an FAA-certified pilot.

4. The Current 32 Regulations

The standard current rules under the 333 include certifications, operations and situations relevant to your drone circumstances and flights.  This list of regulations will be given to you from the FAA once you’ve received your exemption.

The FAA states “failure to comply with any of the conditions and limitations of this grant of exemption will be grounds for the immediate suspension or rescission of this exemption.”

So it’s important to uphold the requirements. Here is a link to the list on our website labeled “FAA Section 333 Example” .

5. Part 107 Information

The “Summary of Major Provisions of Proposed Part 107” is an article from the FAA with information about Part 107.

Here are the following provisions being proposed in the FAA’s Small UAS NPRM.

Within the “Operational Limitations” section, it includes reference to speed, time, visibility, and inspection regulations.

  • The “Operator Certification and Responsibilities” section refers to requirements to pilot age, the knowledge test, and reporting flights to the FAA.
  • The “Aircraft Requirements” section details preflight checks and n-number displays.
  • The “Model Aircraft” section explains aircraft criteria and NAS safety.
  • If you would like to see the detailed summary list of Part 107, GowdyBrothers has posted it to our website titled “Overview of Proposed Part 107”:

Thank You!

GowdyBrothers will keep you well informed through all of the FAA’s upcoming changes and development. Our goal is to have all of our clients flying legally and safely, updated on the regulations and prepared for the future.


Thank you for your continued trust and business!  We look forward to helping you grow your business and please don’t hesitate to contact us with questions. Forward this email to friends or colleagues who could benefit from this newsletter as well!


DISCLAIMER: Communication of information by, in, to or through Gowdy Brothers Aerospace’s site, email communications, and newsletters is (1) is not intended to convey or constitute legal advice, and (2) is not a substitute for obtaining legal advice from a qualified attorney.   You should not act upon any such information without first seeking qualified professional counsel on your specific matter.

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FAA Approves 5,000 Section 333 Exemption Petition Grants; Gowdy Brothers Aerospace Consults on Next Steps

SHAKOPEE, Minn., April 28, 2016 /PRNewswire/ — FAA Airman and Airspace Rules Division (Federal Aviation Administration) announces 5,076 approved Section 333 exemption petition grants. The FAA further clarified there were another 7,000 petitions waiting to be approved as of April 20th at the FAA UAS symposium hosted by Embry-Riddle University.  This is significantly up from approximately 50 approved exemptions this time last year. Nevertheless, there has been a recent slowdown as individuals, businesses, non-profits and governmental agencies all anticipate regulatory changes.

It is currently illegal to operate an UAS (Unmanned Aerial System) for any commercial purpose (or of any economic benefit) under the current FAA regulations without first receiving a Section 333 Exemption Grant, among other requirements.

“The section 333 process for commercial UAS operations was never intended to be a long term solution – only a stop-gap while the FAA under section 332 gathers information and decides how to fully and safely integrate these unmanned aircraft into the National Airspace. To this end, the FAA has been diligently working on framing the new regulations to ensure the safety of persons, property, and airman.” stated Stephen Gowdy, Chief Pilot with Gowdy Brothers Aerospace, LLC, in a recent interview.

Proposed regulations are already in the works, currently being reviewed by various governmental agencies and branches, the White House, industry stakeholders, and FAA personnel alike.  The Advisory and Rulemaking Committees (ARC) for Unmanned Aircraft Systems (UAS) has already proposed and implemented a number of new rules, most notably, the new online registration processes for hobbyists and commercial users.  The foundation for these new set of more permanent regulations for UAS is being referred to as small rule Part 107, which is due for release in June 2016 and has significant implications for the UAS industry.

Anticipation for Part 107’s release has already had some impact on the stakeholders’ decision-making process.  According to Jason Christenson, President with Gowdy Brothers Aerospace, LLC, a company which consults UAS operators, agencies and businesses with regulatory requirements, “…off hand, I would estimate that the number of Section 333 petition filings have dropped by about 20-30% in the last 45 days.  This slow down is probably due, in part, from the anticipation of the small rule part 107 release and uncertainty with what those rules will ultimately contain.  Despite the apparent slow-down in Section 333 filings, interest in providing UAS services, as a part of an existing business’ ancillary service or a new standalone service entirely, continues to climb to new, unprecedented levels.”

Among the proposed rules in Part 107, one of the most anticipated might be the FAA consideration for relaxing the current mandate on commercial UAS users to hold at a minimum of a Sports Pilot’s certification.  “When the Pilot requirement is reduced to a “knowledge test” of some kind, the FAA will be immediately inundated with thousands upon thousands of applicants who do not currently hold a pilot’s certification but wish to operate for commercial purposes,” states Christenson.  “Although the process for application may become more defined and a little less esoteric than the current 333 process, the requirements for application may immediately congest already strained FAA resources.”

So what actions should you take do in the meantime? Gowdy suggests that you avoid waiting for the new rules to be released by “hedging your bets” and go ahead and petition for the Section 333 exemption while waiting for Part 107.  Part 107 still has several steps that it must take before becoming a part of the regulations.  Among other steps, the small rule will need to go through a (circulatory) regulatory approval process.  Currently, it is under review by the OMB [The Office of Management and Budget].  If the proposed rules are delayed at any point during the process, the FAA by law, will continue to operate under the Section 333 process in the meantime.

“At the end of the day, we encourage and assist our clients to take concurrent paths with the developing FAA process to position them in the best possible way, regardless of the outcome.  This is an election year – anything can happen,” noted Gowdy.

About Gowdy Brothers Aerospace

Gowdy Brothers Aerospace, LLC ( is the nation’s leader in providing consulting services and assistance to organizations, companies and individuals who are seeking to fly Unmanned Aircraft Systems (UAS) commercially under Section 333 of the Modernization and Reform Act of 2012.  Gowdy Brothers Aerospace leads the field in FAA section 333 petition filings. Gowdy Brothers assist with traditional N-number aircraft registration, COA (certificate of authorization/wavier), LOA (letters of authorization) to air traffic control, amendments to existing 333 holders to add 1,150 drones and additional purposes (such as motion picture, television, closed set filming and search and rescue operations to existing exemptions).

Contact Information

Andrew Brandt
Client Traffic Controller
Tel: 763-463-5885

Gowdy Brothers Aerospace, LLC
8170 Old Carriage Court N., Suite #200
Shakopee, MN 55379

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SOURCE Gowdy Brothers Aerospace, LLC

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FAA Approves New sUAV Flight Rules and it’s GREAT news for drone pilots!

As of March 29, 2016.

“After a comprehensive risk analysis, the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) has raised the unmanned aircraft (UAS) “blanket” altitude authorization for Section 333 exemption holders and government aircraft operators to 400 feet. Previously, the agency had put in place a nationwide Certificate of Waiver or Authorization (COA) for such flights up to 200 feet.
The new COA policy allows small unmanned aircraft—operated as other than model aircraft (i.e. commercial use)—to fly up to 400 feet anywhere in the country except restricted airspace and other areas, such as major cities, where the agency prohibits UAS operations.

“This is another milestone in our effort to change the traditional speed of government,” said FAA Administrator Michael Huerta. “Expanding the authorized airspace for these operations means government and industry can carry out unmanned aircraft missions more quickly and with less red tape.”
The FAA expects the move will reduce the workload for COA applications for industry UAS operators, government agencies and the FAA’s Air Traffic Organization. The agency also estimates the move will lessen the need for individual COAs by 30 to 40 percent. Other provisions of an FAA authorization, such as registering the UAS and making sure pilots have the proper certification, still apply.

Under the blanket COA, the FAA will permit flights at or below 400 feet for UAS operators with a Section 333 exemption for aircraft weighing less than 55 pounds and for government UAS operations. Operators must fly under daytime Visual Flight Rules, keep the UAS within visual line of sight of the pilot and stay certain distances away from airports or heliports:
Five nautical miles (NM) from an airport having an operational control tower; or
Three NM from an airport with a published instrument flight procedure, but not an operational tower; or
Two NM from an airport without a published instrument flight procedure or an operational tower; or
Two NM from a heliport with a published instrument flight procedure.”


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Press Release: FAA Approves 1,120 Drones (sUAV) for Gowdy Brothers Aerospace

FAA 333 Exemption


SHAKOPEE, Minn., March 7, 2016 /PRNewswire/ — FAA Airman and Airspace Rules Division (Federal Aviation Administration) announced today that the 20 of Gowdy Brothers Aerospace’s ( customers were the first ever to receive 1,120 Drones/sUAV (small Unmanned Aerial Vehicles) on their Section 333 Exemption petition grants.

The FAA requires all individuals and companies desiring to fly a drone/sUAV for commercial purposes to petition the FAA and receive a Section 333 Exemption grant.








This is the largest grant of drones on an exemption since Measure, a 32 Advisors Company, LLC, was awarded 324 drones on August 28, 2015 under FAA Sect 333 exemption #12646.

“Virtually every Drone or sUAV ever manufactured under 55 pounds is on the Gowdy Brothers approved lists of 1,120 Drones.” According to Jason Christenson, President of Gowdy Brothers Aerospace, LLC.

“This new process of adding 1,120 approved small Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (sUAV) to Gowdy Brothers Aerospace’s customers petitions will expedite the commercial UAV operators approval process and meet both the FAA, Airman and Airspace Rules Division’s objectives and Congress’ Modernization and Reform act of 2012, to safely integrate UAS/UAV’s into the National Airspace System (NAS),”according to an Washington, DC, FAA Airman and Airspace Rules Division source.

As of March 7, 2016, the FAA has been working to review and approve 3,799 Section 333 petitions to fly drones/sUAVs commercially from the 13,712 submissions within the past 12 months.

About Gowdy Brothers Aerospace

Gowdy Brothers Aerospace, LLC ( is the nation’s leader in providing consulting services and assistance to organizations, companies and individuals who are seeking to petition for an exemption to fly Unmanned Aircraft Systems (UAS) commercially under Section 333 of the Modernization and Reform Act of 2012.  Gowdy Brothers Aerospace leads the field in FAA section 333 petition filings. Gowdy Brothers assist with COA (certificate of authorization/wavier), LOA (letters of authorization) to air traffic control, traditional N-number aircraft registration and amendments to add 1,120 drones and additional purposes such as motion picture, television, closed set filming and search and rescue operations to existing exemptions.

Gowdy Brothers Aerospace, LLC History:

Gowdy Brothers Aerospace, LLC has carved a unique sector of business in one of the fastest growing industries in the world, as an independent consultant for hundreds and hundreds of companies and individuals wishing to petition the FAA for an exemption to fly sUAV (small Unmanned Aerial Vehicles) commercially under Section 333 of the FAA Modernization and Reform Act of 2012.

Gowdy Brothers Aerospace, LLC was founded in April of 2015.  “Our team has a wide variety of backgrounds and experiences to offer.  We are not lawyers – we are licensed pilots, businessmen and experienced enthusiasts that can bring practical experience, knowledge and compliance to individuals and companies who wish to capitalize on the massive growth in the drone industry,” commented by Jason Christenson, President, Gowdy Brothers Aerospace.

“We are relieved that the FAA released its Notice of Proposed Rules for sUAV in 2015, but until the proposed rule, or any other proposed legislation becomes a final, to fly commercially and legally a Section 333 exemption grant is still required,” according toZack Gowdy, UAV Specialist, Gowdy Brothers Aerospace.

“As a 333 Exemption holder ourselves, and helping a little short of a thousand customers from virtually every state and multiple foreign countries, Gowdy Brothers Aerospace, with the massive amount of submissions we have filed, has become intimately familiar with the nuances of filing and receiving an approved FAA 333 Petition grant,” says Stephen Gowdy, Chief Pilot, Gowdy Brothers Aerospace.

Contact Information

Andrew Brandt
Client Traffic Controller
Tel: 763-463-5885

Gowdy Brothers Aerospace, LLC
8170 Old Carriage Court N., Suite #200
Shakopee, MN 55379

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SOURCE Gowdy Brothers Aerospace, LLC

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Gowdy Brothers Featured In USA Today

Buying a drone for Xmas? What you need to know

LOS ANGELES – Drones are expected to be one of the hottest gifts for the holiday season. But buyer beware -there’s a lot more to owning a drone than taking home that new video camera.

Drones, on view in major force here at the International Drone Expo, which ends today, are legal for non-commercial use only. Industry experts, we interviewed here said photographers, real estate agents and others who want to use drones for their businesses need to put in a good 20 hours getting approvals from the Federal Aviation Administration.

And everyone needs to obey local rules–many cities, including New York and Phoenix, have banned the use of drones.

“The rules are pretty simple,” says Steve Petrotto, a product manager for Horizon Hobby, a Champagne, Illinois drone re-seller. “Don’t fly by airports, don’t fly over 400 feet, and don’t fly for commercial purposes.”

That can be arranged–with what’s called a 333 waiver from the FAA, which requires 20 hours of training to learn how to fly–airplanes. Yes, that includes learning how to take off and land a plane. You’ll also need a sport pilot’s license.

Stephen Gowdy, who runs the Gowdy Bros. Aerospace company from Shakopee, Minnesota, offers 333 waiver assistance, helping applicants fill out their paperwork and process the applications for around $1,500.

Companies like Amazon and Google are looking to drones to deliver products more efficiently than traditional delivery services.

At the Expo, we saw drones of every shape and variety on display–from a $30 mini drone toy to a $150,000 unit that was pitched as a helicopter.

That new eagerly awaited new drone from GoPro, called Kharma, wasn’t on display here, nor was that new Drone from DJI that can operate in the dark.

Edward Ren from AAE Technology in China displayed a huge new $250,000 model aimed at flying for way longer than a few minutes.

The larger FEE drone, “is for stability,” says Ren. “It’s for high altitude flight. Takes better wind resistance, and gets a high altitude. For law enforcement. This a drone for people who need go very far away, and needs to stay in the air for a very long time.”

The FAA predicts sales of over 1 million drones in 2015, and that easily dwarfs the 250,000 airplanes and helicopters that currently occupy out air space, says Keith Kaplan, the interim CEO of the Unmanned Ariel Vehicle Systems Association.

“‘They won’t be flying at the same time, but have to think about, you’re a responsible pilot now,” he says.

Follow USA TODAY Tech columnist Jefferson Graham on Twitter: @jeffersongraham

Source: USA Today

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