Report: Large UAVs could bring explosive growth to US

By Luke Geiver | February 27, 2018

A major shift in aviation could be on the horizon according to the Aerospace Industries Association. In a new report, AIA states that large unmanned aircraft could encounter explosive growth during the next two decades. UAVs deployed for cargo, passengers, industrial applications, public safety or telecommunications could dramatically reshape aviation and the unmanned sector.

“We have got to think bigger when it comes to the future of unmanned aviation,” said AIA President and CEO Eric Fanning. “The future unmanned systems market will change the way we travel and transport products. We could see entirely new economic centers where they don’t exist today. It’s an incredible opportunity, if government and industry start now on the regulations and technology to realize the potential.”

The AIA believes the economic potential with larger UAVs could exceed $30 billion annually by 2036. The rise in economic impact will come from manufacturing and services for long-haul cargo and passenger aircraft along with up to 60,000 research, manufacturing and service jobs annually by the end of that timeframe. “Cargo aircraft operating over remote airspace or large bodies of water may become fully unmanned and autonomous in the not too distant future, operating in a conveyor belt fashion that is hard to imagine today,” the AIA said in the report, “Think Bigger: Large Unmanned Systems and the Next Major Shift in Aviation.”

Fanning believes the biggest hurdle for the U.S. to seize the growth opportunities present with large UAVs is in regulations. U.S. leadership needs to continue developing detect-and-avoid operations, autonomous certification, spectrum allocation, international harmonization of regulations and performance-based consensus standards, and, modifications of civilian UAS-related export and trade restrictions.

“The biggest barrier in the way toward this future is a status quo mindset toward unmanned aircraft,” Fanning said.

To learn more or view the report, click here.