11 | Virginia

Score: 55/100

  • 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.