In its 2017-2027 Aerospace Forecast, the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) predicted that commercial drone use will reach 442,000 units by 2021 as a base estimate, but could rise as high as 1.6 million in its high estimate. Prior to the FAA licensing drone operators, certified pilots were the only individuals authorized to operate commercial drones and companies needed to secure an exemption for any use, often making operations expensive and cumbersome. 

The FAA also reported that out of all industry segments, the construction, industrial and utility inspection segment has a 26 percent share of current commercial drone uses, second only to aerial photography and tied with real estate. Since the FAA introduced its commercial drone regulations last summer, 44,000 units have been registered, and the agency has issued more than 29,000 remote pilot certifications. The pass rate for the certification exam is 90 percent.