9 (Tied) | Nevada

June 27, 2022
  • Airspace Lease Law: 0/30
  • Avigation Easement Law: 25/25
  • Task Force or Program Office: 20/20
  • Law Vesting Landowners with Air Rights: 10/10
  • Sandbox: 0/10
  • Jobs Estimate: 2/5

Factors Helping the State Score

  • Avigation Easement Law: Nevada law creates an avigation easement, which means drone operators are protected from nuisance and trespass laws as long as their drones do not disturb people on the ground.
  • Task Force or Program Office: The state created a drone program office—the Nevada Institute for Autonomous Systems—within the Governor’s Office of Economic Development. The program office develops statewide drone policy and leads the commercial drone industry through business relations and collaboration with research institutions.
  • Law Vesting Landowners with Air Rights: Nevada law expressly provides air rights to landowners, which reduces litigation risk for drone operators because landowners know the extent of their property rights.

Factors Hindering the State Score

  • Airspace Lease Law: Nevada law does not allow public authorities to lease low-altitude airspace above state and local roads. An airspace lease law would allow state or local officials to create drone highways above these roadways.
  • Sandbox: Nevada does not have a drone sandbox. State officials should consider dedicating state facilities and airspace to commercial drone testing and should have a prominent, open invitation for drone companies to test their hardware and services.
  • Jobs Estimate: Nevada is in the fourth quintile when it comes to the number of drone-related jobs per 100,000 people, receiving two out of five points.

These factors make Nevada tied (with Montana) for the 9th most drone-friendly state in the country.

40 | Alabama

June 27, 2022
  • Airspace Lease Law: 0/30
  • Avigation Easement Law: 0/25
  • Task Force or Program Office: 10/20
  • Law Vesting Landowners with Air Rights: 0/10
  • Sandbox: 0/10
  • Jobs Estimate: 5/5

Factors Helping the State Score

  • Task Force or Program Office: Alabama gets partial points because it had a temporary drone task force. In 2014, Governor Robert Bentley established a drone task force, which produced a one-time report for the governor and state legislature. For a full score, the state needs an active drone task force or a program office within the state transportation department.
  • Jobs Estimate: Alabama is in the top quintile when it comes to the number of drone-related jobs per 100,000 people, receiving five out of five points.

Factors Hindering the State Score

  • Airspace Lease Law: Alabama law does not allow public authorities to lease low-altitude airspace above state and local roads. An airspace lease law would allow state or local officials to create drone highways above these roadways.
  • Avigation Easement Law: Alabama law does not create an avigation easement, which means drone operators may be subject to nuisance and trespass laws, even if their drones do not disturb people on the ground.
  • Law Vesting Landowners with Air Rights: Alabama law does not expressly provide air rights to landowners, which raises litigation risk for drone operators because landowners do not know the extent of their property rights and may sue to protect their interests.
  • Sandbox: Alabama does not have a drone sandbox. State officials should consider dedicating state facilities and airspace to commercial drone testing and should have a prominent, open invitation for drone companies to test their hardware and services.

These factors make Alabama the 40th most drone-friendly state in the country.

NA | Puerto Rico

June 27, 2022
  • Airspace Lease Law: 0/30
  • Avigation Easement Law: 0/25
  • Task Force or Program Office: 0/20
  • Law Vesting Landowners with Air Rights: 10/10
  • Sandbox: 0/10
  • Jobs Estimate: NA/5

Factors Helping the Territory Score

  • Law Vesting Landowners with Air Rights: Puerto Rico law expressly provides air rights to landowners, which reduces litigation risk for drone operators because landowners know the extent of their property rights.

Factors Hindering the Territory Score

  • Airspace Lease Law: Puerto Rico law does not allow public authorities to lease low-altitude airspace above territory and local roads. An airspace lease law would allow territory or local officials to create drone highways above these roadways.
  • Avigation Easement Law: Puerto Rico law does not create an avigation easement, which means drone operators may be subject to nuisance and trespass laws, even if their drones do not disturb people on the ground.
  • Task Force or Program Office: Territory leaders should consider convening a territory-wide drone task force or creating a drone program office within the transportation department.
  • Sandbox: Puerto Rico does not have a drone sandbox. Territory officials should consider dedicating state facilities and airspace to commercial drone testing and should have a prominent, open invitation for drone companies to test their hardware and services.
  • Jobs Estimate: Our data source does not provide jobs data for Puerto Rico, so we do not have a drone jobs estimate for the territory. We also do not rank the territory overall.

24 (Tied) | Wyoming

June 27, 2022
  • Airspace Lease Law: 0/30
  • Avigation Easement Law: 25/25
  • Task Force or Program Office: 0/20
  • Law Vesting Landowners with Air Rights: 10/10
  • Sandbox: 0/10
  • Jobs Estimate: 3/5

Factors Helping the State Score

  • Avigation Easement Law: Wyoming law creates an avigation easement, which means drone operators are protected from nuisance and trespass laws as long as their drones do not disturb people on the ground.
  • Law Vesting Landowners with Air Rights: Wyoming law expressly provides air rights to landowners, which reduces litigation risk for drone operators because landowners know the extent of their property rights.
  • Jobs Estimate: Wyoming is in the middle quintile when it comes to the number of drone-related jobs per 100,000 people, receiving three out of five points.

Factors Hindering the State Score

  • Airspace Lease Law: Wyoming law does not allow public authorities to lease low-altitude airspace above state and local roads. An airspace lease law would allow state or local officials to create drone highways above these roadways.
  • Task Force or Program Office: State leaders should consider convening a statewide drone task force or creating a drone program office within the transportation department.
  • Sandbox: Wyoming does not have a drone sandbox. State officials should consider dedicating state facilities and airspace to commercial drone testing and should have a prominent, open invitation for drone companies to test their hardware and services.

These factors make Wyoming tied (with Colorado) for the 24th most drone-friendly state in the country.

17 | Wisconsin

June 27, 2022
  • Airspace Lease Law: 10/30
  • Avigation Easement Law: 25/25
  • Task Force or Program Office: 0/20
  • Law Vesting Landowners with Air Rights: 10/10
  • Sandbox: 0/10
  • Jobs Estimate: 1/5

Factors Helping the State Score

  • Airspace Lease Law: Wisconsin law allows local authorities to lease low-altitude airspace above local roads. Such a law allows local officials to create drone highways above these roadways. However, the state did not receive full points, because the law is silent as to whether state officials can lease airspace above state roads and state property.
  • Avigation Easement Law: Wisconsin law creates an avigation easement, which means drone operators are protected from nuisance and trespass laws as long as their drones do not disturb people on the ground.
  • Law Vesting Landowners with Air Rights: Wisconsin law expressly provides air rights to landowners, which reduces litigation risk for drone operators because landowners know the extent of their property rights.

Factors Hindering the State Score

  • Task Force or Program Office: State leaders should consider convening a statewide drone task force or creating a drone program office within the transportation department.
  • Sandbox: Wisconsin does not have a drone sandbox. State officials should consider dedicating state facilities and airspace to commercial drone testing and should have a prominent, open invitation for drone companies to test their hardware and services.
  • Jobs Estimate: Wisconsin is in the bottom quintile when it comes to the number of drone-related jobs per 100,000 people, receiving one out of five points.

These factors make Wisconsin the 17th most drone-friendly state in the country.

30 (Tied) | West Virginia

June 27, 2022
  • Airspace Lease Law: 10/30
  • Avigation Easement Law: 0/25
  • Drone Task Force or Program Office: 20/20
  • Law Vesting Landowners with Air Rights: 0/10
  • Sandbox: 0/10
  • Jobs Estimate: 5/5

Factors Helping the State Score

  • Airspace Lease Law: West Virginia law allows state authorities to lease low-altitude airspace above state roads. Such a law allows state officials to create drone highways above these roadways. However, the state did not receive full points, because the law is silent as to whether local officials can lease airspace above local roads and local property.
  • Task Force or Program Office: West Virginia gets full points. In 2022, the state legislature created a drone and advanced aviation mobility task force, overseen by the Department of Economic Development.
  • Jobs Estimate: West Virginia is in the top quintile when it comes to the number of drone-related jobs per 100,000 people, receiving five out of five points.

Factors Hindering the State Score

  • Avigation Easement Law: West Virginia law does not create an avigation easement, which means drone operators may be subject to nuisance and trespass laws, even if their drones do not disturb people on the ground.
  • Law Vesting Landowners with Air Rights: West Virginia law does not expressly provide air rights to landowners, which raises litigation risk for drone operators because landowners do not know the extent of their property rights and may sue to protect their interests.
  • Sandbox: West Virginia does not have a drone sandbox. State officials should consider dedicating state facilities and airspace to commercial drone testing and should have a prominent, open invitation for drone companies to test their hardware and services.

These factors make West Virginia tied (with Oregon) for the 30th most drone-friendly state in the country.

12 (Tied) | Washington

June 27, 2022
  • Airspace Lease Law: 30/30
  • Avigation Easement Law: 0/25
  • Task Force or Program Office: 20/20
  • Law Vesting Landowners with Air Rights: 0/10
  • Sandbox: 0/10
  • Jobs Estimate: 4/5

Factors Helping the State Score

  • Airspace Lease Law: Washington law allows public authorities to lease low-altitude airspace above state and local roads. Such a law allows state or local officials to create drone highways above these roadways.
  • Task Force or Program Office: Washington gets full points. The Washington Department of Transportation created and oversees a program office devoted to drone technologies.
  • Jobs Estimate: Washington is in the second quintile when it comes to the number of drone-related jobs per 100,000 people, receiving four out of five points.

Factors Hindering the State Score

  • Avigation Easement Law: Washington law does not create an avigation easement, which means drone operators may be subject to nuisance and trespass laws, even if their drones do not disturb people on the ground.
  • Law Vesting Landowners with Air Rights: Washington law does not expressly provide air rights to landowners, which raises litigation risk for drone operators because landowners do not know the extent of their property rights and may sue to protect their interests.
  • Sandbox: Washington does not have a drone sandbox. State officials should consider dedicating state facilities and airspace to commercial drone testing and should have a prominent, open invitation for drone companies to test their hardware and services.

These factors make Washington tied (with Texas) for the 12th most drone-friendly state in the country.

11 | Virginia

June 27, 2022
  • Airspace Lease Law: 30/30
  • Avigation Easement Law: 0/25
  • Task Force or Program Office: 20/20
  • Law Vesting Landowners with Air Rights: 0/10
  • Sandbox: 0/10
  • Jobs Estimate: 5/5

Factors Helping the State Score

  • Airspace Lease Law: Virginia law allows public authorities to lease low-altitude airspace above state and local roads. Such a law allows state or local officials to create drone highways above these roadways.
  • Task Force or Program Office: Virginia gets full points. The Department of Aviation created a program office devoted to drone technologies, overseen by the manager of aviation technology. Furthermore, a state law, passed in March 2020, created a drone policy group that reports to the Department of Aviation.
  • Jobs Estimate: Virginia is in the top quintile when it comes to the number of drone-related jobs per 100,000 people, receiving five out of five points.

Factors Hindering the State Score

  • Avigation Easement Law: Virginia law does not create an avigation easement, which means drone operators may be subject to nuisance and trespass laws, even if their drones do not disturb people on the ground.
  • Law Vesting Landowners with Air Rights: Virginia law does not expressly provide air rights to landowners, which raises litigation risk for drone operators because landowners do not know the extent of their property rights and may sue to protect their interests.
  • Sandbox: Virginia does not have a drone sandbox. The Mid-Atlantic Aviation Partnership manages a drone test site and offers airspace access, but it does not appear to have an affiliation with the state transportation agency. State officials should consider dedicating state facilities and airspace to commercial drone testing and should have a prominent, open invitation for drone companies to test their hardware and services.

These factors make Virginia the 11th most drone-friendly state in the country.

21 | Vermont

June 27, 2022
  • Airspace Lease Law: 0/30
  • Avigation Easement Law: 25/25
  • Task Force or Program Office: 0/20
  • Law Vesting Landowners with Air Rights: 10/10
  • Sandbox: 0/10
  • Jobs Estimate: 5/5

Factors Helping the State Score

  • Avigation Easement Law: Vermont law creates an avigation easement, which means drone operators are protected from nuisance and trespass laws as long as their drones do not disturb people on the ground.
  • Law Vesting Landowners with Air Rights: Vermont law expressly provides air rights to landowners, which reduces litigation risk for drone operators because landowners know the extent of their property rights.
  • Jobs Estimate: Vermont is in the top quintile when it comes to the number of drone-related jobs per 100,000 people, receiving five out of five points.

Factors Hindering the State Score

  • Airspace Lease Law: Vermont law does not allow public authorities to lease low-altitude airspace above state and local roads. An airspace lease law would allow state or local officials to create drone highways above these roadways.
  • Task Force or Program Office: The state created a UAS program within the Vermont State Police. However, the program’s main use is governmental. Its functions include aiding that agency in emergency operations, infrastructure inspection, and construction site monitoring. State leaders should consider convening a statewide drone task force or creating a drone program office within the transportation department.
  • Sandbox: Vermont does not have a drone sandbox. State officials should consider dedicating state facilities and airspace to commercial drone testing and should have a prominent, open invitation for drone companies to test their hardware and services.

These factors make Vermont the 21st most drone-friendly state in the country.

34 (Tied) | Utah

June 27, 2022
  • Airspace Lease Law: 0/30
  • Avigation Easement Law: 0/25
  • Task Force or Program Office: 20/20
  • Law Vesting Landowners with Air Rights: 10/10
  • Sandbox: 0/10
  • Jobs Estimate: 2/5

Factors Helping the State Score

  • Task Force or Program Office: Utah gets full points. The state has a drone program office within the state department of transportation’s Division of Aeronautics. The program office aims to educate the public about drone technology and encourage commercial drone services.
  • Law Vesting Landowners with Air Rights: Utah law expressly provides air rights to landowners, which reduces litigation risk for drone operators because landowners know the extent of their property rights.

Factors Hindering the State Score

  • Airspace Lease Law: Utah law does not allow public authorities to lease low-altitude airspace above state and local roads. It does allow UDOT, municipalities, counties, and airport authorities to lease, for airport purposes, “any available property that is owned or controlled by the department or by a municipality, county, or airport authority.” However, it is unclear whether the law applies to drones. An airspace lease law would allow state or local officials to create drone highways above these roadways.
  • Avigation Easement Law: Utah law does not create an avigation easement, which means drone operators may be subject to nuisance and trespass laws, even if their drones do not disturb people on the ground.
  • Sandbox: Utah does not have a drone sandbox. State officials should consider dedicating state facilities and airspace to commercial drone testing and should have a prominent, open invitation for drone companies to test their hardware and services.
  • Jobs Estimate: Utah is in the fourth quintile when it comes to the number of drone-related jobs per 100,000 people, receiving two out of five points.

These factors make Utah tied (with Pennsylvania) for the 34th most drone-friendly state in the country.

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