The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) recently released its two-decade Aerospace Forecast for fiscal years 2019-2039. While they've successfully predicted steady growth in the drone industry over the past five years, this latest annual update reveals that they've underestimated the phenomenal rate of adoption for unmanned aerial vehicles.

'A comparison of last year’s data with this year’s (2018) shows that the annual growth rate to be around 13 percent,' reads the report. 'This continues to be substantial growth as anticipated from the introduction of drones as a recreation activity facilitated by falling equipment prices and improved technology, such as built-in cameras and relatively easy maneuvering.'

Last year, predictions put roughly 452,000 commercial (non-model) drones in the sky by 2022. Now it appears that the industry will reach that landmark around the beginning of next year. According to the latest data collected, if trends continue, the FAA foresees market growth tripling in size over the next five years, topping off at 835,000 drones by 2023 - an average annual growth rate of 24.7 percent.

The FAA has registered more than 116,000 remote pilots through the end of 2018. Officials expect that number to reach roughly 350,000 pilots with Part 107 certification by 2023.

The FAA has registered more than 116,000 remote pilots through the end of 2018. Officials expect that number to reach roughly 350,000 pilots with Part 107 certification by 2023. In this category, “the pace of monthly registration, almost 15,000, is nearly 3-times higher than the pace at which non-model aircraft owners registered their craft during the same time last year.”

Despite the significant growth, the FAA acknowledged that as with all technologies, model aircraft (non-commercial drone) sales will inevitably slow as 'the pace of falling prices diminishes and the early adopters begin to experience limits in their experiments or simply eagerness plateaus.'

Since the FAA's online registration system went into effect on Dec. 21, 2015, more than 900,000 owners have registered their drones through September 2018. The agency estimates 1.25 million drones are currently in use across the U.S. with growth projected to reach 1.4 million by 2023. Monthly owner registration for model aircraft averaged around 8,000 - 9,000 per month from January - December, 2018. The overall pace of registration has decreased to about half compared to the same period the year before.

As the commercial industry continues to grow, new sectors and uses for drone technology will continue to emerge. Google's Wing recently received permission to deliver small commercial goods to consumers, a first for the FAA to grant any company. A kidney was transported, via drone, to a transplant patient this past week.