FAA’s 2023 holiday marketing campaign suggests agency is bracing for onslaught of drone Christmas gifts

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The Federal Aviation Administration is rolling out its 2023 holiday marketing campaign this week — and it suggests that many drones will be given as Christmas gifts this year. That means a fresh crop of new drone pilots.

The FAA’s 2023 Holiday “12 Days of Drones” Safety Campaign runs each weekday from now through Dec. 22. Each of the 12 days hones in on a different aspect of drone safety. Given that the topics are beginner focused, it’s clear that the campaign is largely centered around people planning to give or receive a drone as a holiday gift.

For example, the first day (that was yesterday) was all about taking the Recreational UAS Safety Test (TRUST), which is a free-to-take online training course that culminates with a fairly simple online quiz. Today (Day 2) is about drone registration, which is required by the FAA for all drones weighing 0.55 lbs or more and can be done for $5 through the FAA.

Though, some topics are a bit more relevant and applicable to the pros. On Day 3 (coming on Monday), it’s all about Remote ID, which is one of the hottest topics in drones right now. Remote ID regulation technically went into effect in September 2022, but the enforcement deadline has been extended until March 2024, making for some spicy conversations around the rollout (and the lack of available Remote ID modules).

That said, while the FAA may be bracing for a set of new drone pilots, that hardly means the drone industry is growing as former recreational pilots drop out (and presumably take on new hobbies). That’s at least according to the Drone Market Report 2023, which is put together by German market research group Drone Industry Insights (DII). DII predicts the recreational side will “essentially remain stagnant,” though it could actually slow, given a compound average growth rate (CAGR) of -0.3%. In contrast, the overall drone market, which includes both commercial and recreational, is set to grow to $54.6 billion by 2030. That breaks down to a compound average growth rate (CAGR) of 7.1% — clearly driven by growth on the commercial side.

So what does each day of the FAA’s 2023 holiday marketing campaign entail? In short, it’s a series of safety messages which will be posted on the FAA’s DroneZone Twitter (erm, X) and Facebook accounts throughout the month. It also entails a cute little video with festive animations:

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The exact rundown of topics goes like this:

  • Day 1 (12/7): The Recreational UAS Safety Test (TRUST) 
  • Day 2 (12/8): Register and mark your drone
  • Day 3 (12/11): Remote ID
  • Day 4 (12/12): Become a certificated remote pilot
  • Day 5 (12/13): Where can I fly
  • Day 6 (12/14): Airspace authorizations — LAANC
  • Day 7 (12/15): “Weather” or not to fly
  • Day 8 (12/18): Flying at night
  • Day 9 (12/19): Drones for everyone
  • Day 10 (12/20): Flying over people
  • Day 11 (12/21): Drones and careers
  • Day 12 (12/22): Drones for good

By the way, if you need Christmas gift ideas, check out my 2023 Holiday Drone Gift Guide. It outlines the best drones to gift this year. And even if your budget isn’t that book, it’s got tons of other ideas of gifts for drone pilots.

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