38 (Tied) | Illinois

Score: 23/100

  • Airspace Lease Law: 10/30 
  • 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: 3/5

Factors Helping the State Score

  • Airspace Lease Law: Illinois law allows Chicago authorities to lease low-altitude airspace above city streets. Such a law allows local officials to create drone highways above these roadways. However, outside of Chicago, the law is unclear. Municipalities are prohibited from airspace sale and lease for “purely private uses.” It is uncertain whether drone operations would qualify as a private or public benefit, and there are other minor state limits on airspace leasing.
  • Task Force or Program Office: Illinois gets partial points because it had a temporary drone task force in 2016 under the Illinois Unmanned Aerial System Oversight Task Force Act.
  • Jobs Estimate: Illinois 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

  • Avigation Easement Law: Illinois 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: Illinois 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: Illinois 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 Illinois tied (with Alaska) for the 38th most drone-friendly state in the country.