1M New Drones Could Buzz Skies This Christmas
The FAA is very worried
By Michael Harthorne,  Newser Staff
Posted Sep 30, 2015 1:25 PM CDT
The FAA is concerned about reports of 1 million new consumer drones crowding the skies this Christmas.   (AP Photo/Sauk Valley Media, Philip Marruffo)

(Newser) – Santa better be extra careful during his rounds this year or Rudolph is going to get a faceful of drone. The FAA expects up to 1 million small unmanned aerial vehicles—from cheap toys to high-end quadcopters—to be sold for Christmas this year, and it's extremely concerned about that, Popular Mechanics reports. "From an operating perspective, [small UAVs are] a very serious issue, and there's considerable concern that it's going to end in tears," the CEO of Hawaiian Airlines said during an industry summit Monday. That's because what consumers see as a fun hobby, the FAA sees as a million new amateur-operated aircraft crowding the skies.

Popular Mechanics reports the popularity of consumer drones is prompting some legislators to call for limits on what they can do. "A lot of what pilots are seeing is irresponsible use of toys," one congressman said during the summit. "The toys, in my opinion, should be set up so they can't be sold unless they're geo-fenced for altitude and perimeters." But regulation has been difficult. The FAA's Rich Swayze says he's never seen so many separate interests—safety, privacy, security, consumer desires—involved in one issue, according to Air Transport World. In the meantime, NPR reports the FAA will be working with Walmart to teach holiday customers about drone safety. “We’re trying to get out and educate people about potential dangers,” Swayze said during the summit.