FAA Airman and Airspace Rules Division (Federal Aviation Administration) has approved 5,076 Section 333 petition grants, the division said.
The FAA said there were another 7,000 petitions waiting to be approved as of April 20th at the FAA UAS symposium hosted by Embry-Riddle University.
This is significantly up from approximately 50 approved exemptions this time last year. Nevertheless, there has been a recent slowdown as individuals, businesses, non-profits and governmental agencies all anticipate regulatory changes.
It is currently illegal to operate an UAS (Unmanned Aerial System) for any commercial purpose (or of any economic benefit) under the current FAA regulations without first receiving a Section 333 Exemption Grant, among other requirements.
Proposed regulations are already in the works, currently being reviewed by various governmental agencies and branches, the White House, industry stakeholders, and FAA personnel alike. The Advisory and Rulemaking Committees (ARC) for Unmanned Aircraft Systems (UAS) has already proposed and implemented a number of new rules, most notably, the new online registration processes for hobbyists and commercial users. The foundation for these new set of more permanent regulations for UAS is being referred to as small rule Part 107, which is due for release in June 2016 and has significant implications for the UAS industry.