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
Jobs Estimate: 4/5
Factors Helping the State Score
- Airspace Lease Law: Texas 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: Texas gets full points. In 2021, a state law created a drone task force—the Urban Air Mobility Advisory Committee—within the Texas Department of Transportation. Among other things, the task force makes recommendations about passenger drones and airspace policy. The state also has an autonomous vehicle task force that examines drone issues.
- Jobs Estimate: Texas 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: Texas 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: Texas 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: Texas does not have a drone sandbox. Researchers at Texas A&M University–Corpus Christi manage several drone test sites and offer airspace access, but they do 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 Texas tied (with Washington) for the 12th most drone-friendly state in the country.