Consumer electronics group joins safe UAV flying campaign

By Patrick C. Miller | January 08, 2015

The Consumer Electronics Association (CEA) is the latest organization to join the “Know Before You Fly” campaign intended to educate small unmanned aerial vehicle owners about flying safely and responsibly.

CEA announced its support of the safety campaign during the 2015 International CES it’s producing in Las Vegas this week. The effort is spearheaded by the Association for Unmanned Vehicle Systems International (AUVSI), Academy of Model Aeronautics (AMA) and the Small UAV Coalition in partnership with the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA).

“We are thrilled to have CEA support the campaign and help spread the word about safe and responsible flying,” said Michael Toscano, AUVSI president and CEO. “The ‘Know Before You Fly’ campaign fills a critical education gap. We want to ensure that all prospective operators—from consumers to businesses and public entities—know what they should and should not do with an unmanned aircraft.”

The campaign comes as CEA debuts the Unmanned Systems Marketplace at CES, and as more consumers and businesses seek to use unmanned systems technology. As the founding organizations of the campaign, AUVSI, AMA and the Small UAV Coalition represent a large majority of UAS users and manufacturers.

The campaign plans to team with manufacturers and distributors to inform consumers and businesses about what they need to know before taking to the skies. It includes a website, educational video, point-of-sale materials and a digital and social media effort to ensure that prospective operators have the information and guidance they need.

Based on market research, CEA said it expects 2015 to be a defining year for unmanned systems. According to the association’s projections, the global market for consumer UAVs will approach $130 million in revenue in 2015, increasing by more than 50 percent from 2014.

“Unmanned vehicles have the potential to create new businesses and new jobs and give consumers unprecedented remote access to our skies,” said Gary Shapiro, president and CEO of CEA. “In short, drones are not just for fun, they are an economic game-changer—one that will transform the way we do business. We look forward to working with the FAA as it provides timely, innovation-friendly regulatory guidance.”

CEA projects that unit sales of consumer UAS are expected to approach 425,000 in 2015, an increase of 65 percent. Including the accompanying services, the market for drones could easily exceed $1 billion in just five years’ time.

"Safety is the FAA’s top priority and we are pleased to join AUVSI, AMA and the Small UAV Coalition in spreading the word about ways to fly safely and responsibly,” said FAA Administrator Michael P. Huerta. “The ‘Know Before You Fly’ campaign is critical in helping us maintain the safest, most efficient aerospace system in the world.”